Title: The Western Lands
Author: William Burroughs
Page Count/Review Word Count: 258
Okay, I admit it – I read this series in the wrong order. The Western Lands is the final book in Burroughs’ notorious ‘Red Night‘ trilogy, and yet it’s the first Burroughs novel that I read. It’s typical of the majority of his work – difficult to read, but even more difficult to put down, with a rambling, disjointed narrative that’s probably partly down to his experiments with morphine.
Interestingly enough, the novel is heavily influenced by Ancient Egyptian mythology – in particular, the legend of the Land of the Dead, which was guarded by the jackal-headed god of Anubis, has a huge bearing on the story. I found Egyptian history and culture fascinating, and while this influence is warped and bastardised in to something that’s almost unrecognisable, it was certainly interesting to see it offset against references to modern music, culture and civilisation.
And actually, it doesn’t really matter which order you read Burroughs’ work in – in fact, due to the author’s peculiarities, I imagine that he’d probably prefer for you to read them out of chronological order. Each book is like a silo, but put together they form a web of work that transcends literary genres and common sensibilities. This is what happens to you when you take a lot of heroin and sit around in orgone accumulators, kids. Still, he lived until a ripe old age and his fiction is phenomenal, so who am I to judge?