Author Archives: leewatkins

William Burroughs, Truth, and Storytelling

The young Burroughs liked to read adventure stories. The older Burroughs did too. Stories are about characters. What’s infuriating and gripping about a good character is that she’ll have blind spots, things the reader can see that she cannot. It … Continue reading

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A Walk in the Sun

Summer heat wrinkles the air and dries the brain. I move slowly, under pressure, as if pondering a great thought. All I’m trying to do is remember why I got out of bed this morning. The sun’s warmth swallowing me … Continue reading

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“Try going in reverse”: Henry Miller’s advice to writers

“For him who is obliged to dream with eyes wide open all movement is in reverse, all action broken into kaleidoscopic fragments. I believe, as I walk through the horror of the present, that only those who have the courage … Continue reading

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Nowhere Under the Sun

“This is the sun of the high plateau that bakes the land dry and leaves one nowhere to hide.” Ma Jian’s Red Dust is a book about escape, and discovering that there is no escape. A flight from something is … Continue reading

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Lessons from Los Alamos

Albert James Connell ran the Los Alamos Ranch school, which William S. Burroughs attended when he was a boy. “Many of Connell’s ideas were taken on board by Burroughs, such as that there was no such thing as an accident: … Continue reading

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The Greatest Gift

Father Zossima tells his followers that the greatest torment is discovering the meaning of love too late to profit by it. You’re on your deathbed, in your dying brain you seem already at the gate of Paradise itself, and soft … Continue reading

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The corners of rooms everywhere

There’s a shadow in the corner of my room. Sometimes as I sleep, peering at my room through my eyelids with the vision of dreams, it crawls near, sits down on the bed, and watches me. Night creeping close to … Continue reading

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