The Western Lands

William S. Burroughs, Author Viking Books $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-670-81352-0
The trilogy that began with Cities of the Red Night (1981) and continued with The Place of Dead Roads (1983) is completed here, and the result is a divine comedy. Although this final volume is a significant work on its own merits, one must wade through the chaotic and at times unintelligible Cities and the more coherent though by no means easy Place to fully understand why The Western Lands is a remarkable achievement. While the plot resists encapsulation, in general terms it concerns the search for eternal rest that is symbolized by the Western Lands of Egyptian mythology. Among those involved in the quest are many characters from the earlier books in the trilogy, as well as a few from Naked Lunch; not the least of them is Burroughs himself. While Burroughs's ability to create and describe vast, hellish landscapes has never been denied, often there has been no character with whom the reader can empathize. Here, however, an empathetic bond is established in passages describing the fear of death, where Burroughs speaks more directly than usual, sometimes in the guise of old, forgotten novelist William Seward Hall, sometimes forthrightly and freely in his authorial voice. As a result, Burroughs fans will find this narrative vivid, horrifying, beautiful and sad. (December)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1987
Release date: 12/01/1987
Hardcover - 978-0-517-06313-2
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-14-009456-5
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-0-330-30511-2
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