Review: Queer – William Burroughs

Queer - William S. Burroughs (1985)

Queer by William S. Burroughs has been shelved on my bookcase for the best part of five years. I bought it along with other famed Beat Generation pieces: Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Burroughs most famed novels, Junky and Naked Lunch. I read On the Road first; an arduous, albeit profoundly rewarding read. Due to On the Road’s unique style, I approach the Beat movement with trepidation. This time I opted for a decidedly slimmer volume: Queer.

A love story?

Written by Burroughs in 1952, and first published in 1985, Queer is the story of William Lee and his attempt to woo Eugene Allerton. The blurb describes Queer as ‘love story’, but describing it as a love story doesn’t quite sit right with me. Instead, it is a story about unrequited love: intense sexual desire and extreme desperation for human contact. Lee’s love interest, Allerton, is uninterested in his relentless advances. Eventually, he expresses curiosity in homosexuality, and succumbs to a physical relationship with Lee, but it becomes increasingly clear that they have differing agendas.

A feeling of deep tenderness flowed out from Lees body at the warm contact. He snuggled closer and stroked Allerton’s shoulder gently. Allerton moved irritably. pushing Lee’s arm away.

Although aware of, and extremely hurt by, Allerton’s disinterest, Lee continues to chase after him. Lee requires an audience and contact: he talks a lot (Allerton, on the other hand, has little to say), he tells fantastical stories and puts on over the top routines in an effort to attract Allerton’s attention. Continue reading

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Quote #1 | love in New York city

Jimmy Herf stood stockstill at the foot of the brownstone steps. His temples throbbed. He wanted to break the door down after her. He dropped on his knees and kissed the step where she had stood. The fog swirled and flickered with colors in confetti about him. Then the trumpet feeling ebbed and he was falling through a black manhole. He stood stockstill. A policeman’s ballbearing eyes searched his face as he passed, a stout blue column waving a nightstick. Then suddenly he clenched his fists and walked off. “O God everything is hellish,” he said aloud. He wiped the grit off his lips with his coatsleeve.

– Manhattan Transfer, John Dos Passos (1925)

The Scottish Book Awards 2011: Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay

The Scottish Book Awards 2011So let’s kick things off! In July I will be giving away the four titles that have been shortlisted for The Scottish Book Awards 2011 – find out how to enter the giveaway here! In the non-fiction category, Jackie Kay’s Red Dust Road is one of these titles and I reviewed it a couple of months ago…

Jackie Kay‘s writing oozes ‘normality’, it’s unashamedly honest and at times unapologetically simple. But her personal life has been neither normal nor simple, and her identity has very much influenced her work; a Scottish poet and writer, Kay was born in Edinburgh to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother. She was adopted at birth by a communist white couple and was brought up in Glasgow.

In Red Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey, Kay tells us about the journey she took to trace her birth parents. Her journey is a metaphorical and physical one: from Glasgow to Milton Keynes to Aberdeen to Nigeria and back again, to the forked roads and the roads not taken and the long winding roads. Emotionally, the journey is a difficult one, and Kay doesn’t take the easy route. Continue reading

The Scottish Book Awards 2011 Giveaway

To celebrate the 39th year of The Scottish Book Awards, hosted by Creative Scotland, I will be hosting a giveaway!

In the month of July, you will be given the chance to win all of the four titles shortlisted for this years award. Each of which exemplify Scottish literary excellence:

The Scottish Book Awards Creative Scotland 2011

  • Leila Aboulela, Lyrics Alley (fiction)
  • Jackie Kay, Red Dust Road (non-fiction)
  • Stewart Conn, The Breakfast Room (poetry)
  • Sue Peebles, The Death of Lomond Freil (first book)

The winner of the The Scottish Book Awards will have their book named Scottish Book of the Year, and the author will win a whopping £25,000. What’s more, for the first time in the history of the awards, you will be responsible for choosing a winner. The public vote will commence on the 16 May and end on 31 July 2011. So get voting here!! Continue reading

Guest review: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

This week, I’m letting my mum loose on Little Interpretations, as she reviews the second book in Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy…


Wow! What a fantastic late-into-the-night page turner. The Girl who Played with Fire is the second book in Millennium trilogy. While I am not a crime / thriller fan, I was encouraged to read Steig Larsson‘s series by my daughter Marie, and I have to say, this book is fantastic.

I had very much misunderstood the concept of the trilogy by making assumptions of what it was about without actually having read a page. I had no interest in it partly because it is based on murder (not my genre of choice) and also because it is set in Sweden. The  translated text and Swedish names and places put me off slighty, but how wrong I was.

Continue reading

Review: Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut

“you’ll either love it, or push it back in the science-fiction corner”, says the 1969 New York Times review of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5. When I purchased it on a whim, I wasn’t even aware that it possibly belonged in … Continue reading

Review: The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

I found Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea quite dull. Well, at least until page 57. I finished it almost two weeks ago, but I choose not to review it straight away, as I knew I couldn’t give it … Continue reading

Penguin Threads designed by Jillian Tamaki

Now before I begin, these beautiful Penguin Thread editions are not due to be released until October 2011 (I know, I can’t wait that long either!).

Illustrator and cartoonist Jillian Tamaki was commissioned by Penguin to design three embroidered covers for the following Penguin Classic Deluxe titles: Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, Frances Hodgsen Burnett’s The Secret Garden and Jane Austen’s Emma.

On her Sketchblog, Jillian sounds just as excited about this project as the rest of us are:

Penguin Classics! What a dream project. When I first did my Monster Quilt, I said I wouldn’t take commissions in embroidery… unless Penguin called me for a Penguin Classics cover. Sometimes you get what you wish for (times three).

Now. Take a deep breath… et voila!

jillian tamaki

Theres more!! Continue reading