The Secret Life of Books – GUEST POST

Surly Joe Dreams: A Mostly True Narrative of Literature and Nonsense

copperfield-cover-webThe sound that woke me from a semi-deep sleep was a loud dull thud. I sat up, startled and immediately alert. It was the middle of the night, not a time for loud, dull thuds. On the pillow next to me was my copy of David Copperfield, the copy that was supposed to be on my bookcase on the opposite side of my room. I had not touched this book in years, but it was on my pillow next to me.

Before I could say “what the…”, a second book, Dante’s Divine Comedy, shot out of the bookcase, cannonball-like, and slammed into my shoulder, spine-first. It was a paperback so it didn’t hurt too much, but that really wasn’t really the issue. The issue was that the books from my bookcase on the other side of my room were spontaneously launching themselves at me. A third, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, followed in quick succession by Fahrenheit 451 and all three volumes of the Lord of the Rings, ricocheted off my arms and chest. I covered my face, trying to protect myself, yelling over and over “Stop! Stop!”, screaming “What are you doing?” The attack continued. 1984, Crime and Punishment, Jude the Obscure, A Farewell to Arms, Under the Volcano, The Grapes of Wrath. A literary barrage. I yelled one more time, the sound of my voice competing with the thudding of the books.

Then I really woke up, relieved. Shaking my head into awareness, I marvelled at what must have been a book reviewer’s ultimate nightmare. The symbolism was so beautiful and perfect. It was the revenge of the books, their angry response to all the negative criticism that had been heaped on them over the centuries. For once, they were fighting back, attacking their critic in the only way they could attack. Pure violent retribution.

The Nightmare is a 1781 oil painting by Anglo- Swiss artist Henry Fuseli (1741–1825). Since its creation, it has remained Fuseli’s best-known work. With its first exhibition in 1782 at the Royal Academy of London, the image became famous; an engraved version was widely distributed and the painting was parodied in political satire. Due to its fame, Fuseli painted at least three other versions of the painting. – WIKIPEDIA


Then a second interpretation came to mind. Perhaps it wasn’t revenge. Perhaps it was a call from all the books I hadn’t yet reviewed, their blunt statement saying “pick me next, don’t ignore me”. It wasn’t anger, it was jealousy, a wish for inclusion.

I’m on my way to my local cafe now. Hemingway had his favourite cafe and I have mine. I have to read and write. I have a new review to begin. For the sake of my sleep, I’ll try to not be overly critical. I’ll try not to forget anyone.


In his own words – Surly Joe is a moderately nondescript Toronto-based white guy who spends too much time contemplating the nature of boredom.  His aspirations waver between wanting to be either a professional gambler or a Zen monk, with a touch of writing on the side.  After completing university with a degree in a subject that does not readily lead to any sort of viable employment, he wandered through Europe and Northern Africa for a while collecting stories and useless trivia,  Circumstance led to a career back in Toronto.  He now spends his money on food, friends, wine and annual trips to Las Vegas.

Note: Upon reading this post I couldn’t help but be reminded of the wonderful 2011 Academy Award winning short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore. I defy you to watch and not want to immediately drop everything and pick up the next book on your TBR list!

Dare to Love Kindle Worlds Release

Carly Phillips – Dare to Love Kindle Worlds Release

New York Times best-selling author, Carly Phillips has licensed her Dare to Love world to Amazon so that other authors can bring you stories that are extensions of her DARE TO LOVE world. You’ll see familiar faces, maybe even characters you met on my pages and wondered what happened to them.

As the world is licensed to Amazon, the books are available on Amazon only. If you aren’t a Kindle user, no worries! You can still read the stories on the FREE Kindle APP that you can download on your computer, smart phone or tablet.

Check out the 9 books releasing today below!


Hot Dare – Avery Flynn

Hot DareHe shows some of his best moves off the field.

Hell is a Miami Thunder fan cruise to the Bahamas—at least, that’s how Colt “45” Butler sees it. But with his job as the team’s starting linebacker in question, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to prove he’s a team player. Plus, the prospect of having his one-night Vegas fling, Angie Diaz, as his VIP liaison for the cruise just might make the whole ordeal tolerable. All he needs it to get her back in his bed for some Vegas-rules fun on the high seas.

Cheap wine and expensive ice cream, that’s how anyone fool enough to get involved with a Thunder football player always drowns their sorrows after getting dumped. Angie Diaz isn’t about to become one of the many—no matter how close she got to the look-but-don’t-touch line with the hot linebacker. Mixing business and pleasure with Colt is one dare her heart can’t afford to take…but being with him day and night is making is a dare she can’t resist.

Dare Me – Kelly Jamieson 

Dare-Kelly1Love hurts…even when you don’t believe in it…

Interior designer Micki Arnott is anticipating her boyfriend’s marriage proposal with excitement. She and prominent businessman Garrett Caulfield have been seeing each other for over a year and they’re in love. Okay, maybe Garrett hasn’t actually said those three little words, but Micki knows he feels them. But instead of a diamond ring, Garrett hands her a contract…

Garrett wants Micki to move in with him, to commit to him and only him, but he doesn’t believe in love and marriage. After watching his parents cheat and hurt each other all while proclaiming their love, that’s not what he wants his life to be. A contract seems like the perfect way to make sure he and Micki both understand the parameters of their relationship.

When Micki throws Garrett’s contract in his face and tells him to never call her again, he’s shocked and confused. He’s not a quitter, but he’s not going to fight with Micki like his parents did. Micki knows she’s doing the right thing—she deserves to be loved and isn’t going to waste her life on a man who doesn’t even believe in love. Garrett blames his misery on too much scotch…but what if that pain isn’t really the mother of all hangovers…what if it’s…love?

Truth or Dare – Allie K. Adams

From the USA Today bestselling author of the Roadhouse series…

young couple in love, studio darkHe truthfully believes he’s better off alone. She challenges him to live up to the Dare family name.

Adam Dare has never asked for anything from his biological father. Robert Dare lives in Florida with not one but two families. While the rest of his half brothers and sisters grew up surrounded by family and eating from a silver spoon, Adam was an only child in Montana, living off the land and struggling to survive. Now a respected vet with his own practice, he’s facing an insurmountable task, one where he needs all the help he can get. Discovering a pretty, yet troublesome stowaway in the bed of his truck only adds to the mounting chaos. Adam doesn’t have time to deal with her during branding season, yet can’t deny the overwhelming draw to her. A litter of Dares are on their way to the luxury ranch he’s working at, and he can’t afford any distractions—especially one with golden blonde hair and pretty cornflower blue eyes.

Amber Bigsby has lived on her own since the day after graduating from high school. After a disastrous date takes a dangerous turn, she hides in a pile of hay in the back of a truck, only to awaken to find herself at a ranch in Montana, searching for the cowboy who saved her. When she spots Adam, she’s drawn to him to like a moth to a flame. Discovering he’s a Dare has her torn between running away and giving in to temptation. Maybe it’s time to play a little truth or dare…

If she wins, he’s forced to face what it means to be a Dare. If he wins, the truth comes out. The two may not be exclusive. All bets are off when love is on the line, especially when playing…


This story can be enjoyed without prior knowledge of the “Dare to Love” world created by Carly Phillips. However, it’s best served with a healthy dose of the other Dare stories on sale now.

I Dare You – Leslie Kelly 

A Leslie Kelly story set in New York Times Bestselling Author Carly Phillips’ “Dare To Love” Kindle World!

I Dare YouMarcus “Big” Bigsby is retiring after a successful NFL career, ready for a quiet, simple life on a ranch in Oklahoma. But his plan to forget the past is rocked when he comes face-to-face with his high school dreamgirl, the one who got away…the one he never forgot.

Blair Tremaine has heard Marcus is living in tiny little Caribou, but she’s done her best to avoid him. She’d been crazy about him in high school, but they’d always seemed miles apart–her the bookish rich girl, him the football-playing farmboy.

Now they’re thrown together again, and this time nothing will stop them from finally getting what they’ve always wanted: each other!

Daring Masquerade – Alannah Lynne 

Dare-AlannahWhen a hired heartbreaker falls for her target, both their hearts are at risk

For the past five years, Becca Irving (aka Carmella Jones, aka Karma) has worked as a hired heartbreaker, seeking revenge and justice against men who thoughtlessly hurt the women who love them. She expects her next mark to be just as callous, but Jon isn’t her typical target. He’s a good man with a loving nature and dominant streak that crushes her walls and tempts her into believing love can be real and lasting.

From the moment he lays eyes on the beguiling redhead, Jonathon Ridgeway is hooked. When a sensuous dance leads to an erotic weekend aboard his boat, he realizes he needs more than a brief affair with the complex and tantalizing woman.

But neither Jon nor Becca are who—or what—they seem. Will he be able to forgive her past actions? Can she overlook his? Or will they both be left broken-hearted by the secrets of their past?

Daring Attraction – Melanie Shawn 

Dare-MelanieWhen it came to star athletes, it didn’t get any hotter than Cole Carson. The starting quarterback for the Miami Thunder had game both on and off the field. But when he met Julianna, he knew that he’d have to bring more than just the status quo to the stunning, single mom’s already-hectic life if he had a chance of winning her heart.

Life had tackled Julianna Perez with some pretty harsh hits, but she’d take them and more if it meant providing her ten-year-old with a safe and stable environment. Living by her to-do lists and focusing on Anthony’s needs, the breathtakingly beautiful single mother never acknowledged her own until they were brought to the surface by a sexy football player.

A commanding captain on the football field, Cole knew how to take the lead in every situation and he wanted to be the solution and more for his newfound love. But will he be able to navigate through the complexities and realities of being with a single mom, no matter how badly he wants to right her world? Will Julianna trust Cole enough to let him into the stable life she created and protected for Anthony and for herself?

With love on the line, Cole and Julianna will both be forced out of their comfort zones in…Daring Attraction

Dare Me Once – Marquita Valentine

All police detective, Bryce Sinclair, wants is two weeks away from it all, and his grandparents’ cottage on the Chesapeake Bay shore fits the bill. A fridge full of beer and blue crabs is all he needs. Though, the hot, little waitress at the pier would be a welcome addition. He’s not looking for forever, just a good time.

Kayla White doesn’t have time for tourists who try to buy her personal time instead of her award winning crab cakes. She’s too busy trying to start over after the last man stole her heart…and cleaned out her bank account. But, when a sexy, smooth talking stranger catches her attention, will she dare take a chance on him?

The Billionaire’s Dare – Lauren Hawkeye 

This is a new story from Carly Phillips’ DARE TO LOVE series via Kindle Worlds.

From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Lauren Hawkeye/Lauren Jameson…

Portrait of a beautiful young couple embracing with passion. Studio shot.What happens in New York

Evangeline Wyatt, the brand new “team behaviour manager” for Miami Thunder, doesn’t have time for a relationship. At least, that’s what she’s told herself since being burned by one of the Thunder’s biggest playboys. It’s the height of humiliation when she finds herself stuck accompanying said ex to a New York kink club to keep him out of the tabloids. But when she meets a sexy, slightly familiar looking stranger with whom chemistry instantly sparks, she finds herself letting go… only to be reminded why her rules were there in the first place.

Nick Aitken is the star rookie of the New York Vikings, a team with a longstanding rivalry against Miami Thunder. At first he approaches the admittedly delectable woman only because she’s with one of his biggest opponents. But what ignites between them is more than he can resist…

Evangeline is certain that they’re all wrong for one another. Nick’s not so sure. But he’ll do anything for a second taste…

Anything. “Evangeline, I dare you…”

Daring the Player – Robin Covington 

Dare-RobinRaised by a pro football legend, Miami Thunder wide receiver Rep Grissom has a career most would envy.  A toxic marriage with a party girl almost put him on the sidelines, but now he keeps his head down and makes the moves on the field that leave younger players in his dust. Now all he has to do is maintain the status quo and he’s guaranteed a lucrative new contract at an age when most guys are retiring.

Lola Corbin is used to leaving all the big boys in her rearview mirror. The lead singer in the worlds biggest rock band she fills up arenas and closes down the clubs but with the group on the brink of breaking apart her future is uncertain. Years spent on the road has left her with nothing at home except platinum records on the walls, an empty fridge and a cold bed. For the first time, she’s looking for something and someone beyond the spotlight.

When Lola’s first night in her condo ends with Rep breaking up a fight he realizes that temptation has moved in next door. Lola doesn’t usually go for the strong and serious type, but the more she sees of her neighbor, the more she wants. When a thank you dinner turns into dancing and a hot tryst in the back of the club their attraction cannot be denied. But when Lola-induced trouble results in a front-page-career-ending spectacle the player must decide if he’s going to be as daring with his heart as he is on the field.

DTL KW - General Large


Awakening From a Devastating Reading Slump – GUEST POST

GUEST POST – teachergirl73

 After reading Andrea’s humorous post “Auld Lang Syne”, I began to consider my own lack of motivation to pick up a book. I’ve been in a serious reading slump lately, whether it was the hustle and bustle of the holidays, or a bit of the winter blahs, or just simply a bit of “brain freeze” to quote one of my Grade 2 students who was trying to tell me that he had been “thinking” way too hard. While trying to contain my snort of agreement as best as I could, I just empathized with him and assured him that all we needed was the holiday to reboot so to speak. Upon reflection, I think that my reading slump might actually be attributed in part to the demise of a serious literary relationship spanning some fourteen years now.

WMOBI have made many attempts over the past few months to dive into Diana Gabaldon’s latest endeavour Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, the eighth book in the Outlander series, all without success and I finally gave up around mid-December. Even though I consider myself to be a true Outlander fan, for the last three books the only reason why I have continued with the series is because I am held captive, reading in horrified fascination unable to believe what has been done to the story and characters. I feel almost disloyal writing this, not to the author, but to the series itself. The story should have ended after the third book, Voyager, but by then there was a voracious audience awaiting each new installment, which no doubt impacted the arc of the story line. To clarify, I too was one of those people, waiting desperately for the next book in the series. As each new book was published, I kept waiting for that illusive reading “high” that I felt in the beginning but as with most addictions, it never quite happened. Even after the complete waste of time that was The Fiery Cross (hours, days and weeks of my life that I will never get back!) there was still a part of me hoping that one day the magic would return.


However all is not lost, thanks to visually stunning, and superior script writing that comes with “Outlander, the television series. As it appears the show is going to stretch each book out having only adapted a small part in the first eight episodes. I feel confident that I will get to enjoy all my favourite parts of the story as told through Ronald D. Moore’s unique yet faithful interpretation of the novels. I’m eagerly awaiting the mid-season return of the STARZ production of Season One Outlander” on April 4, 2015, along with millions of other women. I ask you this, is there anyone doesn’t want to see more of Sam Heughan?

Following the holidays, I realized that that the worst was over and I had finally seemed to be coming out the other side of my slump. I would like to say thank Auralee Wallace, who let me beta read an early version of her latest book, Skinny Dipping With Murder, that will be coming out in early 2016. It’s about a small-town girl who reluctantly returns home after years away and promptly becomes embroiled in hilarity, hi-jinks and a little dab of murder. I am looking forward to the finished product and for more stories involving Erica and her trusty side-kick Freddie!

When We Wake US cover

DESCRIPTION – My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her ead down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Image and description from:

I have just begun reading When We Wake by Karen Healey. It is a dystopian novel that examines many different themes including global warming, famine, civil unrest and overpopulation in the not-too-distant future. What is most intriguing is the possibility of what could happen if science fiction meets reality and we are able to pause a human life through the use of cryonic freezing, only to restart that life many years later. There are many ethical questions that come up early in the story around the consequences of bringing someone back to life. What are the political and legal ramifications of reviving someone who has been long dead? Are they still consider citizens under the law or the property of the institutions who have brought them back to life? How do you re-integrate someone into society who has been officially dead for a century? Who gets to decide who is revived and who isn’t? And would you want to be given a second chance at life if everyone you knew and loved was long dead and buried? I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story of Tegan unravels as she faces a brand new world in When We Wake.


Redemption Lane – Rachel Blaufeld

front cover redemption lane

Redemption Lane

Rachel Blaufeld

About Redemption Lane (Crossroads #1):

Sometimes the past bleeds into the future. Bess, a wild party girl running from herself, literally falls victim to her demons when she collapses in the most unexpected of places. Lane, a tightly wound, up-and-coming CEO who can’t seem to stop enabling his brother, doesn’t know what hit him when Bess falls at his feet and into his life. It was a night she doesn’t remember, and one he can’t forget. But rather than stay and help the needy college coed, Lane decides to teach his brother a long overdue lesson––a decision that later comes back to haunt him and only adds fury to the transgressions of his past he is already fleeing from. Years later, Bess and Lane meet again. She doesn’t know him, and he doesn’t share that he knows what happened on that ill-fated night when she almost died. After all, he has a web of complicated lies from his own youth to protect. Both are seeking salvation in the arms of others and ignoring the truth—that the only road to redemption lies in confronting your past. When the past and present collide, is there any chance at redemption?

Release date: February 19th, 2015


About Rachel Blaufeld:

rachel bRachel Blaufeld is a social worker/entrepreneur/blogger turned author. Fearless about sharing her opinion, Rachel captured the ear of stay-at-home and working moms on her blog, BacknGrooveMom, chronicling her adventures in parenting tweens and inventing a product, often at the same time. She has also blogged for The Huffington Post, Modern Mom, and StartupNation.

Turning her focus on her sometimes wild-and-crazy creative side, it only took Rachel two decades to do exactly what she wanted to do—write a fiction novel. Now she spends way too many hours in local coffee shops plotting her ideas. Her tales may all come with a side of angst and naughtiness, but end lusciously.

Rachel lives around the corner from her childhood home in Pennsylvania with her family and two dogs. Her obsessions include running, coffee, icing-filled doughnuts, antiheroes, and mighty fine epilogues.




Life Unaware – Cole Gibsen COMING SOON!

Life Unaware

Release Date: 04/28/15

Entangled Teen

Book Summary:

Regan Flay has been talking about you.

Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother’s “plan” for high school success―cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society—until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she’s ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school.

Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah. The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend’s hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan’s going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn’t really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she’s barely holding it together under her mom’s pressure. But the consequences of Regan’s fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched…

Especially Regan Flay.

 About the Author

Cole Gibsen author photoCole Gibsen first realized she different when, in high school, she was still reading comic books while the other girls were reading fashion magazines.

It was her love of superheroes that first inspired her to pick up a pen. Her favorite things to write about are ordinary girls who find themselves in extraordinary situations.

Author Links:

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Cover Reveal Organized by:

Reasonable Doubt Box Set – Whitney G. REVIEW & SALE ALERT


This trilogy is not to be missed, in conjunction with paperback release the box set is available for a limited time at the ridiculously low price of NINETY NINE CENTS!

  • Whit10Title: Reasonable Doubt
  • Author: Whitney Gracia Williams
  • ISBN13: 2940149543335
  • Series: Volume #1
  • Published: March 31st 2014
  • Format: eBook
  • Genre/s: Contemporary Romance
  • Print Length: 78 pages
  • Source: Puchased
  • Rating: A

There’s something about a rascal, and make no mistake Andrew Hamilton is a rascal. Add a handsome man in a three piece suit and I am a goner. I plead “no contest” to judging this particular book by it’s cover. Just please lock me up with everything Ms Williams has written and I will go quietly. When I spotted Reasonable Doubt on my Goodreads Home page and read the blurb I was instantly intrigued. It’s relatively short length was another significant point in it’s favour as I was sadly still overwhelmed with non-blog related projects at the time.

Since Fifty Shades of Grey the market has been absolutely glutted with copy cats to the point that I might injure someone if I read about another tortured billionaire who “boo freakin’ hoo” has to mop up his salty tears with hundred dollar bills and who confronts his demons with D/s. Reasonable Doubt is not another cookie cutter facsimile of what I feel is ultimately a very flawed story that inexplicably resonates with so many women today. Though one might mistake Andrew Hamilton’s “wham bam thank you ma’am” approach as just another fetish rather than the protective defence mechanism it, in fact, is. Reasonable Doubt is a more evolved tale and as such would appeal not only to the multitudes of Fifty Shades fans out there but also to the more discerning reader in my opinion.

As a high profile lawyer, I don’t have time to waste on relationships, so I fulfill my needs by anonymously chatting and sleeping with women I meet online.

My rules are simple:

One dinner. One night. No repeats.

This is only casual sex. Nothing more. Nothing less.

At least it was , until “Alyssa”…

I think what is so appealing about this serial is the humorous exchanges between the characters particularly those between Andrew and his dates who seem incapable of understanding the concept of “one night only“. Andrew is extremely deluded, he likes to believe that he is jaded and disillusioned yet even six years later he is continually amazed at the casual deceptions the internet dating world is rife with. He denies that he wants intimacy of a committed relationship but it is clear that this is not the case by his regular exchanges with Aubrey/Alyssa.

Just like that, my night was now ten times better. Even though I’d never met Alyssa in person and our conversations were restricted to phone calls, emails, and text messages, I felt a strong connection to her.

Despite the secrets and lies between them Aubrey and Andrew’s romance is a love story built on the foundation of friendship and mutual respect, granted there are some extremely explicit sex scenes however none of them are gratuitous and the reader is left with no doubt that these characters are falling in love. Whitney G. has written a deliciously satisfying story that you cannot help but devour and then gaze at your reader wishing there was more and then sigh and resign oneself to waiting impatiently for this wonderfully talented author’s next offering.



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A self diagnosed candy addict, travel junkie, and hypochondriac, Whitney Gracia Williams LOVES to write about characters that make you laugh, cry, and want to (in the case of Selena Ross) reach through your Kindle and slap them.

She is the “imaginary bestselling” author of the Jilted Bride Series, Mid Life Love, Wasted Love, and Captain of My Soul.

When she’s not locked inside her room, feverishly typing away on her laptop, she can be found here:

She also loves getting emails from her readers, so if you want to tell her how much you loved (or hated) her stories, email her at!


Junkie – William S. Burroughs GUEST POST REVIEW


  • junkieTitle: Junkie
  • Author: William S. Burroughs
  • ISBN: 0450010627 (ISBN13: 9780450010620)
  • Series: Stand Alone
  • Published: Published 1972 (first published January 1st 1953)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Genre/s: Fiction & Literature

From GoodreadsBefore his 1959 breakthrough, Naked Lunch, an unknown William S. Burroughs wrote Junky, his first novel. It is a candid eye-witness account of times and places that are now long gone, an unvarnished field report from the American post-war underground. Unafraid to portray himself in 1953 as a confirmed member of two socially-despised under classes (a narcotics addict and a homosexual), Burroughs was writing as a trained anthropologist when he unapologetically described a way of life – in New York, New Orleans, and Mexico City – that by the 1940’s was already demonized by the artificial anti-drug hysteria of an opportunistic bureaucracy and a cynical, prostrate media.

Junkie is not a book to be enjoyed.  It is a book to be endured.  There are no likable characters.  There are no feel-good moments, there is no happiness.  It is ugly, blunt, emotionless, occasionally vile.  It is car-wreck fascinating and probably one of the most honest accounts of drug addiction ever written.

William S. Burroughs, the godfather of American Beat literature, author of The Naked Lunch,  and seminal influence to Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and others, wrote the semi-autobiographical Junkie, his first published work, in 1953.  He was ivy-league educated, a kid with financial support from a respectable Midwest family.  But he was also a bored misfit and an outcast who rejected conformity for drugs and extreme experimentation.  “You become a narcotics addict,” he wrote, “because you do not have strong motivations in any other direction.  Junk (i.e. drugs) wins by default.”

Junkie spans the course of a few years and Burroughs describes his existence as an addict, traveling from New York to New Orleans to Texas and finally Mexico City, always with the goal of the next high in mind.  He hangs out with thieves, dealers and other addicts, chasing drugs, fleeing the law.  He describes his acquaintances, members of the junkie community, as “basically obscene beyond any vile act or practice.”   The typical addict “is socialized as an insect, for the performance of some inconceivably vile function”.  They feel no remorse because they are completely chemically-controlled.  Once hooked, “life telescopes down to junk, one fix and looking forward to the next”.  It is life on “junk-time”.

There were instances where Burroughs tried to break his habit.  The results were painful and short-term, junk-sickness suffering – “My body was raw, twisting, tumescent, the junk-frozen flesh in agonizing thaw.”  He substituted drugs with alcohol, once drinking for ten days straight, not bathing, not eating, almost dying.  And after two months of being clean, he went back to his needle, found the vein, and described the hit as pure bliss, writing “If God made anything better, he kept it for Himself”.

As Junkie ends, Burroughs’ search for new highs is still in its infancy.  His travels would take him to South America, Europe and North Africa.  It is rumoured that, while living in Morocco, he did not leave his apartment for a year, never washing, never changing his clothes.  He wrote and was an addict.  But he survived and produced, his tortured existence resulting in fame, notoriety as a completely amoral, tragic figure, with the label as one of America’s greatest and most influential writers and a hero to the counterculture for pursuing freedom at all costs.  Was it worth it?  In an interview late in his life, Burroughs was asked if he regretted anything.  He replied curtly – “Everything”.  A junkie’s honesty still intact.

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william-burroughsWilliam 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”. His influence is considered to have affected a range of popular culture as well as literature. Burroughs wrote 18 novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. Five books have been published of his interviews and correspondences. He also collaborated on projects and recordings with numerous performers and musicians, and made many appearances in films.

He was born to a wealthy family in St. Louis, Missouri, grandson of the inventor and founder of the Burroughs Corporation, William Seward Burroughs I, and nephew of public relations manager Ivy Lee. Burroughs began writing essays and journals in early adolescence. He left home in 1932 to attend Harvard University, studied English, and anthropology as a postgraduate, and later attended medical school in Vienna. After being turned down by the Office of Strategic Services and U.S. Navy in 1942 to serve in World War II, he dropped out and became afflicted with the drug addiction that affected him for the rest of his life, while working a variety of jobs. In 1943 while living in New York City, he befriended Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the mutually influential foundation of what became the counter-cultural movement of the Beat Generation.

Much of Burroughs’s work is semi-autobiographical, primarily drawn from his experiences as a heroin addict, as he lived throughout Mexico City, London, Paris, Berlin, the South American Amazon and Tangier in Morocco. Finding success with his confessional first novel, Junkie (1953), Burroughs is perhaps best known for his third novel Naked Lunch (1959), a controversy-fraught work that underwent a court case under the U.S. sodomy laws. With Brion Gysin, he also popularized the literary cut-up technique in works such as The Nova Trilogy (1961–64). In 1983, Burroughs was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1984 was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France. Jack Kerouac called Burroughs the “greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift”, a reputation he owes to his “lifelong subversion” of the moral, political and economic systems of modern American society, articulated in often darkly humorous sardonicism. J. G. Ballard considered Burroughs to be “the most important writer to emerge since the Second World War”, while Norman Mailer declared him “the only American writer who may be conceivably possessed by genius”.

Burroughs had one child, William Seward Burroughs III (1947-1981), with his second wife Joan Vollmer. Vollmer died in 1951 in Mexico City. Burroughs was convicted of manslaughter in Vollmer’s death, an event that deeply permeated all of his writings. Burroughs died at his home in Lawrence, Kansas, after suffering a heart attack in 1997.


In his own words – Surly Joe is a moderately nondescript Toronto-based white guy who spends too much time contemplating the nature of boredom.  His aspirations waver between wanting to be either a professional gambler or a Zen monk, with a touch of writing on the side.  After completing university with a degree in a subject that does not readily lead to any sort of viable employment, he wandered through Europe and Northern Africa for a while collecting stories and useless trivia,  Circumstance led to a career back in Toronto.  He now spends his money on food, friends, wine and annual trips to Las Vegas.


Book Reviews and Literary Musings


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