Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Place Of Dead Roads” as Want to Read:
The Place Of Dead Roads
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,916 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
William Burroughs's surreal fable set in America's Old West features a cast of notorious characters: The Crying Gun, who breaks into tears at the sight of his opponent; The Priest, who goes into gunfights giving his adversaries the last rites; and The Nihilistic Kid himself, Kim Carson, who with a succession of beautiful sidekicks sets out to challenge the morality of smal ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published 1986 by Paladin (first published 1983)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Arthur Graham
Mar 09, 2012 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
Leo Robertson
This book is garbage nonsense and Burroughs is a terrible author—glad I double-checked those facts and don't have to again ;)
Nate D
Jun 16, 2014 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
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Nu kanske jag bara ger alla Burroughs böcker fem stjärnor av princip. Men. Det fanns passager i boken som var tillräckligt bortom-denna-värld i genialitet/galenskap att jag tycker den förtjänar det. Även om inget i boken var jämförbart med/lika kul som den bisarra politiken som styr den röda nattens städer i "Cities of the Red Night".)

"The place of Dead Roads" är andra delen av den trilogi som börjar med "Cities of the Red Night" och avslutas med "The Western Lands". Jag undrar hur mycket av tr
Rosa Ramôa
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A heroína,as armas e as lutas loucas!
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A totally awesome novel, the best I have read so far in 2014. Burroughs is one of my favourite writers and I feel he actually improved as he got older. His later books have all the outrageous flights of fancy of his more experimental work but they are expressed in much more tightly controlled prose.

The Place of Dead Roads is an ironic psychedelic Western but it's also a prime example of lateral science fiction; and the ideas and conceits it shoots off have enough potential energy and promise to
Oct 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Josiah Miller
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great Novel. All the borrowing here has been acknowledged.
Tom Kenis
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sure has a lot of dicks in it.
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slightly more coherent in terms of plot than Burroughs other work, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Aug 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
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.
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: po-mo-dahling
Was kind of indifferent to it, until the last part, when I just wanted it to end. And enough with the ellipses already!
Harry Casey-Woodward
FINALLY I finished the last Burroughs book on my shelves!!!! Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed his writing. Well maybe enjoyed is the wrong word, perhaps admired. Although I won't miss his repetition, especially with such phrases as 'rectal mucus'.
This is a good book to finish Burroughs on with a bang. I personally liked it because I'm a big fan of westerns and Burroughs had a go at writing his own... of sorts. The first half is the best, as we follow our protagonist super-shooter Kim Carsons
Frederick Heald
I gave up on this about 1/3 of the way through. It was too weird - read like a disconnected drug trip, loaded with homoerotic elements. Didn't make any sense. The language was interesting, but I just couldn't stick with it.
John Hatley
This is an astonishing book. It is full of surprises, or perhaps better, the unexpected. I'm now seriously considering reading "Cities of the Red Night" and "The Western Lands", the other two in this trilogy.
David Newton
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this book actually made me gay. I'm not joking.
Jan 29, 2012 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
Jul 29, 2013 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
kim carson viaggia nel tempo, attratto dal selvaggio west: scombina la storia, combatte contro le oligarchie (capitalistiche, mafioso e solo burroughs sa cos'altro...) in nome di un nuovo ordinale fuorilegge, quello del mondo dei johnson (capirete meglio cosa intendo se lo leggerete), e viaggia nel tempo e nello spazio, verso un duello che è l'alfa e l'omega del libro. allora, meno "estremo" di "le città della notte rossa", ma -in un certo senso- meno ricco di momenti illuminanti (che comunque c ...more
Ed Smiley
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
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

Share This Book

“There is nothing more provocative than minding your own business.” 263 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.” 19 likes
More quotes…