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

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,374 ratings  ·  70 reviews
A good old-fashion 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.
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published January 1st 1984 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston (first published 1983)
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Arthur Graham
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Tosh
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...more
David
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
Kurt Gottschalk
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
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.
Bob Hartley
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
Arlo
Slightly more coherent in terms of plot than Burroughs other work, but enjoyable nonetheless.
J de Salvo
A great Novel. All the borrowing here has been acknowledged.
Michael
Mar 07, 2012 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Cody
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...more
Ryan Sloan
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...more
Frances
Finished this a few days ago. I think I am somewhat slightly in love with William S. Burroughs ('s writing...). After reading Cities of the Red Night and getting really psyched because I totally found myself a new favorite author (even though there are millions of penises parading proudly around every corner of his work), I bought Naked Lunch at the bookstore (haven't read that yet) and checked this out from the library, deciding to read it first because it's the sequel to Cities.

ANYWAY, about...more
Perry Whitford
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, who work by stealth to turn America into the sort of place Burroughs himself would like to live and then colonize 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 wallowing in fant...more
tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
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...more
Cas
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...more
Ed Smiley
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...more
Stephen
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
Leonard Makin


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...more
Jorge
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...more
Michinio Camorelli
If The first book of this trilogy starts in more or less normal way and slowly develops into madness, The Place of Dead Roads begins with already mild schizophrenia and very soon the set is absolutely out of any reasonable logic and this is what is so amazing in this book at least for me... no rules, no control - just pure flow of creativity something like in a free jazz. and to stick with the analogy - if you don't know the standards - you cannot improvise.

But this is not a easy book to read -...more
Levon
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...more
M.
I will potentially move this up to a higher rating at some future point, but right now I'm pissed off at how annoying I found the last 100 pages (I just wanted it to be over). I read the first half of this when I was like 13 after getting it from the library and it has been stuck in my subconscious ever since (at 13 I was mostly amused by the tight pricks and autonomous ephebes & adolescents). Cities of the Red Night is certainly "better" from a narrative point of view, but the sort of "tabl...more
Phillip
i started reading war and peace but got restless so i came back to this...an 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...more
Leile Brittan
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.
Andrew
Apr 11, 2008 Andrew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love reading
The previous book is like a vortex. Spinning story lines which blur together in their increasing brevity, Burroughs has brought the reader to his mouth. Now the storytelling begins without the constraints of time--and in order to gain its' immortality it must act out things that we would call evil. This book is utterly self-aware, defying death only as long as you can hold it open.

It is a story about time-traveling cowboys
READ IT!
Gary
Now over 200 pages and remain with a very seditious book comment and the essential need of beware, be calm, be liberated. The third chapter in Quien Es, book III is jaw dropping. Stunning exploration into cosmology ... wow.

Finished ... I regard the earlier portion of the book more favorably. The last section of the book stretched my believability factor too much after following a somewhat believable opening sequence.
Harrison


Mostly good, sometimes great and sometimes just pervy and unsavory. At times Dead Roads veers awfully close to being the ultimate wild west story jacked up on mescaline but too often it dwells on WSB's obsessions like small children with "over developed thighs and buttocks" and his morbid fear of insects. Still, I will eventually read the other two books in the trilogy.
Eric Bruen
Loved the first third, then I just got totally lost. I think I was rushing it a bit, trying to get it finished over my couple of days at the beach and it all just went over my head. I loved his writing style and it was a fun crazy graphic ride, but I just couldn't follow the plot - was there one? I may give it another try if my magic porridge pot of a book shelf ever relents
Bret Constantino
This a brutal sci-fi western tale about a gang of revolutionary gunslingers. While the narrative has much more cohesion than Naked Lunch, Burrough's articulations of sodomy and homicide are every bit as vile and repulsive. But buried deep within the muck you are likely to discover the most profound illusions and a very intriguing set of ideals.
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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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