Thinking of the Original Junky


Some years ago, well, a bunch of years ago, I was working for Moe Moskowitz at his famous Berkeley bookstore.

The author William Burroughs was passing through, pitching some book or other, I no longer recall which. And he was set to do a book signing at Moe’s.

I was assigned to lay out a flyer. It was a treat of a task, and what to do was obvious. For the text I cut out letters from magazines and newspapers and arranged them together with a grainy photograph of the master, and stuck everything to a sheet of paper with celophane tape. I explained to the owner of the copy store down the street that I needed the tape to show on the page. He agreed to this only if I promised not to say where the copying had been done.

Later with just a handful of fellow booksellers, I got to sit with the master of cut and paste literature and world renowned reprobate as he in his raspy voice regaled us with stories, many of which I’m sure were true. I got a few seconds of special attention as he had found the flyer a delight…

It’s silly, but I treasure his praise…

William S. Burroughs, Beat, avant garde author of Junkie, Naked Lunch and much else, some of it good, and general all around bad man, was born on this day in 1914.

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