William Burroughs closed his classic novel Junky by saying he had determined to search out a drug he called ‘Yage’, a drug that could be ‘the final fix’.
In The Yage Letters, a mix of travel writing, satire, psychedelia, and epistolary novel, he journeys through South America, writing to his friend Allen Ginsberg about his experiments with the strange drug, using it to travel through time and space and derange his senses.
Burroughs’ letters reveal his desire to escape the norms of American society which hemmed him in, and the extraordinary steps he took to break free.
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
The true travelers of the Beat Generation were not Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady but Burroughs and Ginsberg - they traveled the world looking for answers, drugs, a way out of their lives and their pasts - I think this is a poetic and satirical gem. Burroughs accidental shooting of his wife haunts him and he is looking for an answer to a question he can hardly form - Ginsberg letters in response are wild, frightened, an explorer who seems to be terrified by every step - electric poetry.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
his has to be a complete in inane question to any question about any book - if I changed it it wouldn't be this book - and you can't change this book without making it so much less than it is...even if you improved it.
Did The Yage Letters inspire you to do anything?
I have been inspired to travel to South America, take a truly spectacular amount of drugs, sleep with many and varied species whilst writing letters home to tell them just how irresponsible I'm being.
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