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The Place of Dead Roads (The Red Night Trilogy #2)

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  1,776 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
A good old-fashioned shoot-out in the American West of the frontier days serves as the springboard for this hyperkinetic adventure in which gunslingers, led by Kim Carson, fight for galactic freedom. The Place of Dead Roads is the second novel in the trilogy with Cities of the Red Night and The Western Lands.
Paperback, 306 pages
Published May 2001 by Picador (first published 1983)
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Arthur Graham
Jul 11, 2016 Arthur Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In The Place of Dead Roads, Burroughs takes a detour through the American Old West, beginning with the 1899 death of writer/gunslinger Kim Carsons in a Colorado shootout. From there the story unfolds in a nonlinear telling of Kim’s past experience -- across vast swaths of time and space, under various forms and guises -- as professional assassin and prominent member of “The Johnson Family” (incidentally, the novel’s original title). The Johnsons are a brotherhood of honorable thieves and other i ...more
Nate D
Aug 29, 2014 Nate D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: raccoo-oo-oons
Recommended to Nate D by: language is a virus
In the 80s, Burroughs was back in New York, appearing in Laurie Anderson songs, and writing his last trilogy of strange and garbled not-exactly-sci-fi novels. And this fragmented western, starring Denton Welch (according to Burroughs' introduction for In Youth is Pleasure -- what would Welch have thought of this? I see the connection, but Welch's subversion and antisocial impulses are deliciously subtle, Burroughs' billboarded constantly) -- but anyway, this fragmented postmodern western was the ...more
Rosa Ramôa
Feb 13, 2015 Rosa Ramôa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A heroína,as armas e as lutas loucas!
Apr 30, 2008 Tosh rated it really liked it
William Burroughs comes in at least three stages. I would recommend reading his books in order, because in a sense one gets a narrative history of the Avant-Garde writing via his works.

This is his last great period in literature. Here he's an old man commenting on the Western of sorts. A place where a liberated man could do his own thing withhout anyone bothering him. The ultimate libertarian, Burroughs is actually very conservative soul which may surprise people. But again what makes him great
Aug 15, 2011 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, american
I read this about 15 years ago when my tastes were apparently more callow than they are now, because flicking through it now I don't like it nearly as much as I did then. It reads like the rough sketch for a screenplay or for a comic strip - kind of slapstick. Burroughs might not be trying to shock all the way through, but I suspect he is - yet it's not written well enough to trigger much shock. The f word certainly doesn't do it anymore, and the gory scenes in the book are too unpolished to evo ...more
Michinio Camorelli
If The first book of this trilogy starts in more or less normal way and slowly slips into the madness, The Place of Dead Roads begins with the developed mild schizophrenia and very soon the set is left with no reasonable logic and this is what amazes me so in this book... no rules, no controls - just pure flow of creativity, something like free jazz. and to stick with the analogy - if you don't know the standards - you cannot improvise.

But this is not an easy book to read - on the contrary. Some
Kurt Gottschalk
Feb 25, 2014 Kurt Gottschalk rated it liked it
First later Burroughs I've read and it was a pleasant surprise. He still leaves you to fill in some of the blanks but it is almost a through-narrative. That in itself doesn't make it better or worse, and ultimately it isn't as good as his best work, but it is now my favorite novel about a queer, time-traveling cowboy.
Josiah Miller
Jun 08, 2014 Josiah Miller rated it it was amazing
This book is real. These are real characters and their abilities to cope with the real world. Some of the best language I've read from Burroughs. This book has everything I ever wanted in a novel. Masterpiece.
J de Salvo
Mar 04, 2011 J de Salvo rated it it was amazing
A great Novel. All the borrowing here has been acknowledged.
Sep 05, 2011 Arlo rated it really liked it
Slightly more coherent in terms of plot than Burroughs other work, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Oleg Redko
Jan 12, 2017 Oleg Redko rated it did not like it
A protest against religion, church, government, intelligence services, humans and the all institutional society. Novel full of ideas, so much ideas, you don't really see the woods behind the trees.

Something I won't read again. Something I wouldn't read if I knew to where I get my self (hours of useless read).
Mar 07, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: College students, Burroughs fans, sci-fi fans
Recommended to Michael by: Tom Jennings
I read this book, and its prequel, Cities of the Red Night, for the first time when I was in college, and a lot of it went over my head. Interestingly (and perhaps because of this), I also came out of it convinced that Burroughs was a genius, and that his every word should be taken as the Gospel Truth. Looking at it now, I "get" what he's saying a lot better, and I find that I disagree with him more.
This book begins as a gay Western, with some sci fi interludes, and gradually becomes more bizarr
Perry Whitford
Mar 02, 2016 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Place of Dead Roads, literary outlaw William Burroughs writes himself an alternative autobiography in the figure of Kim Carsons, frontiersman, homosexual gunfighter and agent of the subcultural Johnson Family.

Kim works by stealth to turn America into the sort of place Burroughs himself would like to live in. Then he plans to colonize outer space along the same lines.

Carson's youth is pure Burroughs, repelling adults ('he looked like a a sheep-killing dog and smelled like a polecat') and w
Scott Neuffer
Nov 22, 2015 Scott Neuffer rated it really liked it
William Burroughs' "The Place of Dead Roads" is best described as a cosmic postmodern western. Featuring a gay, gun-toting antihero named Kim Carson, the nonlinear novel mixes its western tropes with sporadic sci-fi genre elements, hallucinatory stream-of-conscious passages, and knife-sharp social satire. It is perhaps the strangest book I've ever read. But what Burroughs lacks in coherency he makes up for with the surreal and haunting resonance of his imagery:
"There is a swamp with a nest of wh
Jan 04, 2011 Cody rated it really liked it
2nd in the trilogy and think i preferred this to Cities of the Red Night which was also pretty "For The Win". maybe i just got lucky and the focus on cowboy kim was a lot strong than the rebel captain stuff from Cities, wish i read it more recently, but will mos def be cappin the trilogy after this... gay alien cowboy asassins are really really really really really cool


They capture hyenas and blind them with red-hot needles and burn out their vocal cords while they intone certain spells bind
Ryan Sloan
May 24, 2012 Ryan Sloan rated it it was amazing
As a confessed Burroughs fanatic, I gotta say this is probably one of his best. It seems to have just the right mix of everything WS Burroughs is known for ... All in the context of a post modern western. Which in itself I find hilarious (in the wry sort of sardonism he offers so often ["offered" I suppose, considering he's not with us anymore]).
Kim Carsons, the protagonist, is one of my favorite characters of fiction, though I think he may be a quasi-autobiographical fictional vision of the au
Jun 27, 2010 Cassian rated it it was amazing
You know, I wish I could find some kind of fault, somewhere, with this book. Other reviewers seem to have no problem with this task, and I'm sure the faults are there, somewhere — but the truth is that I fully enjoyed every single page of The Place of Dead Roads, and not once wished anything about it different.

Burroughs is truly at his best here: serious and satirical, hilarious and thought-provoking, sexy and stomach-turning, oftentimes all in one scene, one paragraph, or even one sentence. His
On the cover Native American males + one 'white' guy (whatever the fuck that is) - all looking pretty illuminated from my seat. It reminds me of an excerpt from "Naked Scientology", one of the Burroughs bks I haven't listed here b/c I'm not sure I've read it entirely. In this excerpt, Burroughs defends things he's written about the Church of Scientology from a Church representative whose 'facts' against Burroughs are quoted:

7) Item: Wog
'Fact': A term not used by the Church. After all, all Sci
Ed Smiley
Mar 01, 2013 Ed Smiley rated it really liked it
This is the second of the Red Night trilogy; I have yet to read the other two.
Readers unfamiliar with Burroughs should, as always be warned that, like most of his works, this is hallucinatory, disjoint, violent, and graphic.
However, as always, it is leavened by wacky black humor, and vivid writing that has a paradoxical dark beauty.

It's more narrative than his cut-up works, which took language to near-Joycean-Wakean extremes.

There is a Western narrative of sorts, although there is considerable t
Aug 04, 2011 Stephen rated it liked it
The cover blurb was very misleading. It quoted like one page of a book that really jumps all over the place, which was really annoying. Although I generally enjoyed this book, it wasn't what it purported to be about. It should have just read "bizarre, misogynistic, brutal and gay." I've never read any Burroughs before, so it was a bit of an experience. I couldn't help but read it as little more than a power fantasy, in which Burroughs, through Kim Carsons struggles against a world he doesn't fit ...more
Jun 17, 2012 Jorge rated it it was amazing
Uno de mis libros favoritos y considero el mejor de Burroughs, que hay en ese lugar: imagenes que abren ese intersticio donde aparece un mundo alterno, donde el viento rompe esa película llamada realidad y donde un tornado de imagenes construye aquel mundo que pudo cambiarlo todo.

Aca una muestra en un cita sobre la trilogía del espacio:

"Este libro está dedicado a los Antiguos, al Señor de las Abominaciones, Humwawa, cuyo rostro es una masa de entrañas, cuyo aliento es el hedor del estiércol y e
Kirk Johnson
Jul 28, 2015 Kirk Johnson rated it it was amazing
Burroughs picks up his writing style where he left off in the last half of Cities of the Red Night and writes a masterpiece, his best book since Naked Lunch and arguably better - certainly more even. He doesn't fall back on his old crutches and creates something bizarre and brilliant the whole way through. Frequently his prose is astounding: the electricity of Naked Lunch; the lyricism of Port of Saints; and tasteful, controlled hints of the cut-up trilogy. He riffs on history and literature, ra ...more
Jan 04, 2008 Levon rated it really liked it
Shelves: magical-sarcasm
More homo-mysticism and rod rubbing from W S Burroughs, probably the greatest writer in the "action" genre. Faster in some parts than others, like most things written by W.S.B. it is both a great tale unto itself and development upon Cities of the Red Night.

As usual Burroughs makes silly putty newspaper prints of the truth as an attempt to reproduce his own visions. The outer space polemic had less of an impact on me, as I really see it as a metaphor for occultist exploration of inner space. B
Leonard Makin
Mar 14, 2014 Leonard Makin rated it it was amazing

I have read each of William Burroughs novels and personally regard him to be the most
important modern writer. THE PLACE OF DEAD ROADS - part of a trilogy - confirms his
place, for me, as a master of post-war fiction.

I read THE NAKED LUNCH when it was first published and I remember the TIMES LITERARY
SUPPLEMENT editorial commenting - 'If the publisher had set out to discredit literary
freedom and innovation they could not have done it more effectively' - and my feeling
was that here was a ser
Randy Lowe
Apr 13, 2015 Randy Lowe rated it liked it
like soaking in a barrell of images sweated out of you during some kind of multi-day, desert-indian sauna. not exactly pleasant, surely not all good, barely relatable, possibly meaningless, and unforgettable. This was better than the first in the trilogy (Cities of the Red Night), if only that the Galactic Western narrative provided more of a grounding and comforting structure. regardless of how tedious or disgusting it got at times, I was always just a sentence away from the beginning of an ent ...more
Aug 15, 2009 Phillip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i started reading war and peace but got restless so i came back to old favorite. really enjoying it once again.

I've read all of Burroghs' work, but this is my all-time fave - I don't think he ever matched his ability to create a surrealist (collage) structure that ellicits so much clear narrative - the perfect blend of chaos and clarity. I've read it three times, and look forward to reading it again next year (too much on the shelf at the moment).

As usual, he's up to
Bob Hartley
Apr 17, 2014 Bob Hartley rated it it was amazing
There's not much to say about this book. Well, there's a lot to say, but I don't know how because I was depressed yesterday. It's lovably surreal. It starts with a gunfight where the stray bullets rip holes in the universe, and, as you can imagine, there's an undercurrent throughout of Burroughs's style of "science fiction" - secret, interplanetary agencies, disjointed narration, and explanations of weird theories. Some parts are quotes from older fiction, some are like prophecies to newer (incl ...more
Benedict Benque
Aug 07, 2016 Benedict Benque rated it really liked it
A compilation of homosexual, rough sex scenes mixed with abstract philosophical thoughts, which are quite successfully camouflaged as a wild-west/science-fiction-story. Interesting narrative due to changes of time and place in an innovative way, thus using the same story of the famous and obnoxious shootist Kim Carsons with a variety of background sceneries. At times revolting, but worth the effort.
Leile Brittan
Mar 26, 2007 Leile Brittan rated it it was amazing
Incredible shit; by far the best Burroughs I've fucked with so far. The underlying theme is that mankind will never learn to cooperate until we develop a unified global space program so that we can all get the fuck off this planet. But it's about so much more...really this is a commentary and chronicle of the Western world as we know it. Simultaneously more accessible yet way crazier than any of the other Burroughs cut-ups projects I've read so far.
Guy Salvidge
Nov 25, 2015 Guy Salvidge rated it liked it
I adored this book when I first read it at age twenty - now I'm not sure why. There are some poignant passages but what's really infuriating is that the narrative simply doesn't move forward at all. Also, there's no conflict to speak of. This could best be described as a long series of Burroughs' fantasies (many of them sexual). Good writing in places, sure, but hardly a compelling read. I read up to about halfway and then skipped through to the end.
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Goodreads Librari...: Page count needs to be corrected - ISBN 9780312278656 2 14 Feb 08, 2016 09:24AM  
  • The Process
  • William S. Burroughs, Throbbing Gristle, Brion Gysin
  • William Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible
  • Indian Journals
  • Dr. Sax
  • Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs
  • Gentleman Junkie: The Life and Legacy of William S. Burroughs
  • The Last Opium Den
  • Rubicon Beach
  • Semiotext(e) SF
  • The Happy Birthday of Death
  • Heathern
  • The Atrocity Exhibition
  • You Bright and Risen Angels
William Seward Burroughs II, (also known by his pen name William Lee; February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century ...more
More about William S. Burroughs...

Other Books in the Series

The Red Night Trilogy (3 books)
  • Cities of the Red Night
  • The Western Lands

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“There is nothing more provocative than minding your own business.” 251 likes
“He remembers his fathers last words: “Stay out of churches, son. All they got a key to is the shit house. And swear to me you’ll never wear a lawman’s badge.” 18 likes
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