cover image The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico%E2%80%A8

The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico%E2%80%A8

Jorge Garc%C3%ADa-Robles, trans. from the Spanish by Daniel C. Schechter. Univ. of Minnesota, $17.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-0-8166-8063-4

Mexican novelist, critic, and translator Garc%C3%ADa-Roble's account of Burroughs's time in Mexico from 1949 to 1952, which included the accidental shooting of his common-law wife Joan Vollmer, proves absorbing, but ultimately unsatisfying. Garc%C3%ADa-Robles first introduces Burroughs's relationships to fellow Beats Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Vollmer, among others, before attempting, with varying degrees of success, to differentiate Burroughs's Mexican experience from the Mexican experience of other authors. The book is less about the "stray bullet," and more about how the shooting of Vollmer influenced Burroughs's writing. Depending on the reader, the majority of the book may prove unpleasant because of its depiction of Vollmer, with her death painted as something she wanted, without giving her much of a voice in a voice-filled text. Burroughs fans may enjoy this look at his experience in Mexico (first published in Mexico in 1995), but others will be troubled by the portrayal of Vollmer's death as a fated part of Burroughs's evolution as a writer. 7 b&w photos. (Oct.)