Thursday, October 23, 2008


From time to time I'm going to throw in some brief thoughts on books I'm currently reading. I like to see what others are tuning their minds to, and I suppose some out there might like the same.

Having finished Cities of the Red Night a while back, I worked up the nerve to begin The Place of Dead Roads, but it didn't take much internal coaxing, as Burroughs always gets me excited. Not that way you dirty pricks!

The Place of Dead Roads is a sequel not so much in the sense that it picks up where Cities of the Red Night left off, but that it further explores the extremes of Burroughs homoerotic and violently drug addicted and sexually energized worlds. But there is so much more to it than that. Burroughs explores themes of class struggle, religious domination and the grey areas between good and evil with the wit and humor that only his mind can summon.

This time, the protagonist Kim Carsons leads the Johnson family (a group of rogues) on a journey to secularize and sanitize the world in this violent old-west shoot em' up. Be prepared for the fractured and fragmented, the gory and profane, and the real and unreal.

I've also been taking my time with Babel's Collected Stories. Having been interested in Russian history since I read The Gulag Archipelago, I had Babel on my reading list for a long time. These are gripping stories, with the most striking being the Red Cavalry stories, which take us through the horrors of war as sort of snapshots of humanity, and many times inhumanity, which detail the actions of Russian soldiers and civilians who cannot escape the inevitibility forced upon them by their mutual history and impossible circumstances. In these tales choices are made, choices are lived with, and rarely is the noble path taken, which makes them all the more real. Most of these stories are very short, but in their brevity lies a power of description which is benefited and sublimated by Babel's economy of words.

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