Author: William Seward Burroughs II
Dates: 5 February 1914 – 2 August 1997
Title of Book: Queer
Lee walked directly to the bar and ordered a drink. He drank it and ordered a second one before looking around the room to see if Allerton was there. Allerton was alone at a table, tipped back in a chair with one leg crossed over the other, holding a bottle of beer on his knee. He nodded to Lee. Lee tried to achieve a greeting at once friendly and casual, designed to show interest without pushing their short acquaintance. The result was ghastly.
As Lee stood aside to bow in his dignified old-world greeting, there emerged instead a leer of naked lust, wrenched in the pain and hate of his deprived body and, in simultaneous double exposure, a sweet child’s smile of liking and trust, shockingly out of time and out of place, mutilated and hopeless.
Allerton was appalled. “Perhaps he has some sort of tic,” he thought. He decided to remove himself from contact with Lee before the man did something even more distasteful. The effect was like a broken connection. Allerton was not cold or hostile; Lee simply wasn’t there so far as was concerned. Lee looked at him helplessly for a moment, then turned back to the bar, defeated and shaken.
Lee finished his second drink. When he looked around again, Allerton was playing chess with Mary, an American girl with dyed red hair and carefully applied makeup, who had come into the bar in the meantime. “Why waste time here?” Lee thought. He paid for the two drinks and walked out.
Brief Biography: Burroughs was a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major modernist author. Most of his work is semi-autobiographic drawing from his experiences of heroin addiction and homosexuality. In its time, his writing was considered experimental and subversive but as one of the major influential writers of the 20th century Burroughs work has been a contributory factor in the shift of social attitudes on addiction and sexuality.