Even if you were skeptical of the Beats, you’d have read a few Burroughs books back in the ’70s and ’80s, especially if you were a certain kind of nihilistic punk. His funereal stare and morbid image was a poor fit with the proto-hippie ecstatic poetics of his friends like Allen Ginsberg. Gun-toting and junk-shooting, Burroughs anticipated the hangover from hippie “liberation” in his books, which were grotesque and apocalyptic and very, very appealing to anyone who’d been unable to suppress a snicker while reading Howl.

  • Waffle

    Amazed that he lived as long as he did. Nauseating creature. Had to read him in my first year at university — for shock value, I think and to shake me out of my bourgeois delusions.