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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  5,701 ratings  ·  216 reviews
For more than three decades, while its writer's world fame increased, Queer remained unpublished because of its forthright depiction of homosexual longings. Set in the corrupt and spectral Mexico City of the forties, Queer is the story of William Lee, a man afflicted with both acute heroin withdrawal and romantic and sexual yearnings for an indifferent user named Eugene Al...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 6th 1987 by Penguin Books (first published 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Here's the thing that puzzles me about this book: why was it not published until 1985 while the far, far more offensive Naked Lunch was published (not without obstacles) in 1959? One idea is that Burroughs put the manuscript for Queer away for many years and chose not to revisit it because it reminded him of a extremely terrible time in his life, the time surrounding the well-known (and unfortunately adapted to the screen) accidental killing of his wife during a drunken game of William Tell (a "...more
MJ Nicholls
Certain “cult” writing earns this status because the prose is so transparent and simple it instantly appeals to teenage males done with Easton Ellis and Kerouac who want to up their shock quotient before attempting to read Gravity’s Rainbow for the first and last time. Queer fits the bill except, by today’s standards, the book is a little prude in tight Speedos with its danglies between its thighs asking us to love it if we’d only give it a chance. Will Lee is a homosexual-in-training in pursuit...more
I have a passionate hatred for William Burroughs. I think even his fans have to concede that he's a degenerate piece of shit. I admit my prior experience with him consists of 5 pages of Naked Lunch and a couple biographies of various sorts, none of which fail to mention the pedophilia and him murdering his wife (I'm from Detroit, don't think for a second I buy his bullshit story), not that I'd hold that against him when rating this book.

I went into this book expecting it to be about heroin abus...more
mark monday
seriously, Lee, will you give it a rest? stop trying to get into the pants of that straight guy. get some dignity. Lee, i hate to tell you this, but you are embarrassing yourself. you're desperate and that is highly unattractive. even worse, you surround yourself with the same decay that is present in your decayed view of the world. and when that isn't enough, you seek out even more decay, until the novel becomes a travelogue of depressing decay, decay, decay. all the while trying pathetically t...more
Lee, Chapter 4: "Got an idea for a new dish. Take a live pig and throw it into a very hot oven so the pig is roasted outside and when you cut into it, it's still alive and twitching inside. Or, if we run a dramatic joint, a screaming pig covered with burning brandy rushes out of the kitchen and dies right by your chair. You can reach down and pull off the crispy, crackly ears and eat them with your cocktails."

Junky is tougher, and Naked Lunch is weirder, but this is the best Burroughs' book I've...more
L.A. Witt
I tried. I effing tried.

I can appreciate the book for what it is. Publishing (even writing) a queer-themed book was daring and subversive in that era. Living that life was dangerous. So in that respect, I can appreciate it for breaking ground, etc.

That said, I hated the book. Or I should say, I hated the half of the book I managed to get through before I finally gave up because...I hated it. Lee is obnoxious, judgmental, entitled, and at times downright creepy in his pursuit of Eugene. I don't...more
Aunque no lo sea de forma explícita, ‘Queer’ parece la representación de la exploración del dolor y de la huída psicológica del propio Burroughs. Una muestra de su necesidad de calor humano y de afecto aderezada con una escritura visceral. Lo importante es que, al contrario de lo que pasa con ‘En la carretera’, no se queda en lo banal. Un poco superior a 'Los subterráneos'. A falta de conocer ‘Aullidos, ‘Yonqui’ o ‘El almuerzo desnudo’ es el mejor beat que he leído.
James Munt
Ennui might be the biggest literary cliche of the past century, but here Burroughs really does capture discontented loneliness and unrequited desire wonderfully. If the book’s prequel Junkie is ‘on the junk’, then Queer is ‘off the Junk’, and it's this interplay between the desire of withdrawal and Lee’s physical desire for Allerton which the book hinges on. As Burroughs states in his introduction, the withdrawing addict has the emotional excess of an adolescent and their sex drive comes back in...more
John David
This book has been sitting on my library shelves for a couple of years untouched. Since it was William Burroughs, and looked like a fairly quick read, I decided to pick it up. Burroughs is one of the seminal American authors of the underground gay experience, right? I thought it would be like reading Alan Hollinghurst on cocaine - something I was looking forward to.

But I was highly disappointed. The novel's plot revolves around gay two heroin addicts, William Lee and Eugene Allerton. Lee's attra...more
Not sure what to say about this one, except that I wish I could un-read it.

Do you know that song by the Lords of Acid that repeats forever and ever and ever: ”And this is what the Devil does?" No matter. This is what socialization does.

Burroughs makes his alter-ego William Lee thoroughly unlikable -- whining and bitchy and morose and pathetically in love with a young, straight man who is equally pathetic and entirely uninterested in William's advances. However, William buys his way into Alle...more
Razvan Zamfirescu
Am făcut foarte greu rost de această carte. De fapt, cineva mi-a făcut rost de ea, cadou fiind de ziua mea. Nu pot să vă spun ce a trebuit să facă persoana respectivă pentru a procura, dar pot să vă spun că a stat la telefon cu cei de la depozit de la Polirom exasperîndu-i să o găsească. Un mic detaliu picant, menit a sublinia obsesia mea legată de acest autor. Cartea a costat 3.99 lei. Mai mult a fost efortul depus şi taxele poştale pentru o cărţulie groasă de 150 de pagini.

Pederast este aproa...more
An ode to misery! Corruption , misery and shocking images having as a background the torturous effort of a gay man, to stop his addiction. Along with the effort to «choke» the narcotic madness , Lee is being fed with moments , sick many times , sprouting through a grueling and totalitarian desire for another drug user.
Through this miserable love absoluteness Lee, using as a «literary paradigm» the Mexico City, will bring to the surface the darker side of American society . A picture of the most...more
Kyle Shroufe
A William S. Burroughs novel that had been written just after his controversial novel "Junky" except it never got to see the light of day until the 1980's when, frankly, it was safe to publish it (and Burroughs finished the text). The idea that Burroughs even wrote this account of a homo-sexual relationship that spans continents and also inhabits heavy drug use and other topics that would be very played upon for our white picket fence society of post war America in late 40's early 50's, is just...more
Mark Picketts
This was the third book selected for the guys book club here in Mexico and it was a real interesting read. Definitely from a genre that I haven’t had any exposure too and i enjoyed learning more about William S. BurroughsBurroughs and Jack KerouacKerouac (who I regularly site as one of my favorites). Those guys moved to Mexico and just, well...they must have had some crazy stories. Definitely pushing the envelope.

Rambling at parts and too discombobulated (undoubtedly due to “Henry”) to really fo...more
Guy Portman
Queer is an unreciprocated love story, in which the protagonist Lee craves love and attention from a young American by the name of Eugene Allerton.

Set in the American ex-pat scene of hedonistic, lawless 1940s Mexico, the first half of the story centres around a number of bars and gay joints where Lee spends his days, drinking, drug-taking and going through set routines, whereby he attempts to regale his audience with intellectualness and bizarre humour.

Later in the book Lee persuades Allerton...more
This is an interesting look into the heart and hormones of William S. Burroughs. In many ways it is quite sad how being a member of a counter-culture group back in an era where the homophobia and persecution of those who were not WASP's was violent and deadly stunted the expression and romantic feelings of a gay man. It is equally as sad, how little this nation has changed with his hatred and judgement of people.

You come away with a feeling of bleak sadness for Burroughs that all of the love he...more
Okay, Okay. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself 'homophobic' but let's just say I feel slightly uncomfortable reading a book with the title of Queer on a crowded train. And I am not talking about any standard commuter train. I am talking about a jam-packed sushi-fest of people that is the Tokyo commuter train. But I realize that it's nonsense to feel that way. Who cares?
I'm a heterosexual man but do have some friends who are homosexual/lesbian and am totally cool being around them. Have no p...more
John Molina
I really enjoyed this book. "Queer" is interesting to me as you can see Burroughs' evolution as a writer and the novel also has a foreboding quality that many attribute to Burroughs' accidental murder of his common law wife. The actual plot of the book is pretty basic, it involves William Lee's infatuation with a young man in Mexico. The novel is unflinching in it's portrayal of blind lust; Burroughs' character makes a fool of himself on many occasions, but the novel shouldn't just be seen as on...more
This is pulp fiction at its finest, and the perfect companion to Burroughs better known "Junky." I have always loved the introduction to the 1985 re-issue: "When I lived in Mexico City at the end of the 1940's, it was a city of one million people, with clear sparkling air and the sky that special shade of blue that goes so well with circling vultures, blood and sand -- the raw menacing pitiless Mexican blue." If you are turned off by his post-Naked Lunch writing style, one might consider this as...more
Aleksandr Voinov
It's a fragment that makes very little sense and it's hard to forecast where it was going, or whether I would have enjoyed the finished book. As a fragment, I didn't get much out of it. While a few lines are brilliant, the signal-to-noise ratio is not recommending this book. Funny, I enjoyed Naked Lunch more.
I enjoy a book about a hot mess, So I was more than a little excited when I came across this beauty at the thrift store. I mean how can you pass up a book with a penis on the cover written by a noted author?

I began reading Queer, to look at how Burroughs used his real life to write "fictional" stories. I have been struggling with how to do this in my own writing, so I am seeking out models. This is a good model for me, because I'm don't think any of the other "characters" in this story would be...more
Matt Piechocinski
I think the title of this book is a bit of a misnomer, and it appeals to everyone, regardless of sexuality. Why? Because everyone has been in the situation where they find themselves pining over, or maybe even loving someone, who doesn't reciprocate emotionally. The fact that Burroughs is gay, is irrelevent, because the hurt and sadness is real, and everyone has felt it. I found myself really identifying with Lee in this way, more so than I could in Junkie ... and Allerton read like a Bret Easto...more
I first read Queer in 2008. I had just moved back home to my parents after living in another town for almost half a year. As I flipped through the pages of the book I started to recall memories from that time. From people I lost contact with to strange episodes and weird dreams.

I remember I traveled alone that year to Berlin to see Current 93. I was just about to turn 19, as dashing and innocent as one can be, and on the flight to Berlin I end up talking with an elderly danish man (I think he wa...more
Brad Hodges
"When I lived in Mexico City at the end of the 1940s, it was a city of nine million people, with clear sparkling air and the sky that special shade of blue that goes so well with circling vultures, blood, and sand--the raw, menacing, pitiless Mexican blue." So writes William S. Burroughs in the 1985 introduction to Queer, his novel from the early '50s, which was not published for thirty years.

Today is Burroughs' 100th birthday. I've written about Naked Lunch, and I wanted to read something else...more
The early Burroughs which is not that different from the later Burroughs -except this is much more a straight forward narrative - and his voice, which is magnificent is here full force. The tragedy of him shooting his wife is not too far away from this book - and one would want to read things into it. Nevertheless the Burroughs world is far from perfect - and that is one of his charms.
Read it from curiosity, knowing that he was on of the important figures of the beat generation. Not impressed.

citita mai mult de curiozitate, stiind ca e un reprezentant destul de marcant al generatiei beat. neimpresionata in mod deosebit.
i understand this book's cultural/historical relevance. burroughs authors a book of his experiences as a gay man in the 1950s under a false name. i understand this to be incredibly brave.

the book, however, is unfortunately droll.
Kevin Cole
I actually think this one's more interesting than "Junky." Burroughs is almost tender in his affection for both men and drugs.
Shawn Keeney
If I could give the book 3.5 stars, I probably would, but I don't feel comfortable enough to round up to 4. As far as plot goes, there's not much to be found within the pages of this novella. It's more of a character study anyway, but the plot just seems rather arbitrary, and the epilogue doesn't do much for me at all. The best parts of the book are the "routines" that the main character puts on, fairly long monologues relaying some humorous anecdotes throughout the book. On the whole, the writi...more
This novel sits halfway between Henry Miller and Hunter Thompson -- a gonzo stream of consciousness roller coaster ride through the lower depths of humanity and of the soul. But ultimately Burrows' book may be better than the other two in working on a variety of levels. As other reviews here point out, it is surreal,it is political, and most of all it is about human longing and loneliness of a character who you can't like but can't help having empathy for.

This is his first book that I have read,...more
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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
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