Eric’s Writing Blog

The writing blog of Eric Rosenfield

Notes Toward William S. Burroughs, Bad Roommate

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I don’t normally talk about things I haven’t written or finished yet, but I’m experimenting this one time with doing a brain dump for a story I may or may not write. It was originally an idea for a comic strip, and one day it may still be one, but I think I’d probably do it as a short story or something first, once I’ve done the proper research.

The idea is called William S. Burroughs, Bad Roommate. The premise is this: A graduate student is doing his doctoral dissertation on William S. Burroughs, but he’s stuck and has a block and can’t finish it. So naturally, he turns to black magic, and resurrects Burroughs from the dead. The problem: Burroughs has no interest in helping him, and mostly wants to sit on the couch doing heroin and staring at his own foot. So the graduate student ends up with this crazy junkie zombie living in his house who happens to be his idol.

Lots of fun plotlines can arise as the graduate student deals with having his hero-worship smashed, WSB searches the campus for a rumored stash of ayahuasca, and throws gay orgies, and the graduate student tries (unsuccessfully) to keep WSB a secret from his friends, etc. It’d also be interesting if the graduate student was straight and did not to any drugs or alcohol and his fascination with WSB has to do with his own fascination with the things that are taboo to him. He can also wrestle with notions of the relationship between art and drug use.

It’d even be fun to have a plotline where someone else gets resurrected too. I was thinking HP Lovecraft, because he would probably HATE WSB and think he was a reprobate and a dreg of society, and there would be lots of great clashing between their radically different worldviews. And it would be ironic that HPL would look down his nose at WSB, since HPL is considered a genre writer of the pulps, and WSB is considered a literary writer.

Just an idea, something to mull over. I haven’t read Burroughs in years, and I’d have to dive back into his life and work to do this thing justice. If I was going to do it, I’d have to do it right, with the level of research and care that goes into, say, the marvelous comic strip The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage about the steampunk-esque adventures of two real-life, 19th century mathematicians. Sydney Padua makes an art in that comic of taking real things and fictionalizing them in fun ways, like how Babbage hated street music or what Darwin thought of him.


Written by ericrosenfield

March 19, 2010 at 2:31 am

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