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And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks (2008)

by William S. Burroughs(Favorite Author)
3.7 of 5 Votes: 2
0802118763 (ISBN13: 9780802118769)
Grove Press
review 1: This seems to be a very unlikely collaboration. Kerouac’s _Visions of Cody_ and _The Town and the City_ are so packed with almost mystical energy, and in the former work, a zen-like joy! As an early Burroughs work it is plausible. The downscale urban setting and variety of small-con, self-exploring, underclass and artistic “types” is quite similar to _Junkie_, as is the defiance of received values. Their secret maliciousness is shown by war, poverty, class division, and the priority of “keep what you have” over all else. That is more true today than ever (thanks to the enormous concentration of electronic surveillance, and bobbleheads and their redacted “news”). The protagonists of _Hippos_, _Junkie_, and _Naked Lunch_ are just as emotionally frozen. Sympat... morehy for other people, and even any regret for exploiting them, is just as paralyzed. Anarchy is what the society can expect, once the “long newspaper spoon” is seen for what it is. That phrase from NL, and another: “wouldn’t you,” echoes in this 1943 novel. The supposedly key event in the “birth of the Beats,” the murder of by Lucien Carr (Phil) David Kammerer (Al), occupies a just a few pages in _Hippos_. It sure isn’t “beat-ific”. See the film _Kill Your Darlings_ for that story, or the excellent Afterword to this novel by James Grauerholz.The killing of Al, and the response to it by Wil Dennison, Mike Royko, and Phil, are what make the book powerful. The perfect denouement. All three like each other. That’s all that counts. Wil, wily small-time criminal that he is, knows Phil’s parents will take care of their rich, shallow “boy”: maybe I’ll kill myself—but you don’t have bullets in your gun, do you --God forbid-- friend Wil? Ah, then I’ll just have to write poetry in prison. Burroughs wrote Ch 16, Kerouac the next chapter. They both knew the kind of schmuck Phil was, and the irony of Al conceiving a grand passion for him. Phil in this version kills Al, who was trying to fondle him, with a hatchet. Then he throws the body off the roof b/c Al was “leering at me through half-closed eyes.” Wouldn’t you?Actually, Al is older than the kids he hangs out with, is demeaned by them, and b/c he actually has something he wants more that the sensation that guides the girls and boys in the Village apartment that mon and dad pay for, hangs around, taking the abuse. If that also is pathetic, it is so in a different way than all the others except Wil, who really is a good observer who has made mature decisions and can take the consequences.The earlier chapters set up very well the setting, attitudes and personal give-and-take (mostly take) that lead up to the denouement. Kafka was not the rage; Woody Guthrie, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Joe Gould, and shipping out on the Merchant Marine were.And yet, it was Kerouac, not Burroughs, who tried to get this book published in the late 40s as the first novel about what the war and the bomb had done to the American sensibility.
review 2: The fictional story of an actual life event, in which the Beats truly began. I recommend just as the afterward states, to refrain from bringing in any knowledge of the Carr-Kammerer incident as it clouded my ability to truly see the characters for what they were meant to be.I also really enjoyed the contrast and back-and-forth between the two writing styles. It gave more meaning to the story for me. less
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I need to reread. It deserves more than a 3 but I need to reread after some time
Buena introducción a la literatura Beat, pero nada más.
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