The Un-shattered Glass

Take a story, a story that was a total accident and yet probable. Now put a name to that story, a name that is an author in which many have recognize and would believe it to be unbelievable. This is the story of a fun party trick between a husband and wife missing the mark. This is the story of William Burroughs.

William Burroughs

The background of the inspiration of this story is an author who was known as William Lee. He graduated from Harvard University and was part of the “Beat Generation” and was a postmodern author. His main works were, Naked Lunch (1959) and Junkie (1953). Naked Lunch  which covers his addiction to drugs, (heroin, opioid, morphine) uses a structure that has no steady plot. There is no specific flow and there is no clear mapping of which direction the story is going. This novel ended up in Time magazine’s “100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.” 

Naked Lunch

Junkie is similar to the first novel but varies that this was more of a mixture of fiction and autobiography. This novel reveals not only his drug use but also being a drug dealer. It can be viewed as an addicts novel and the life that they lived by during this time period. This novel was very controversial so some parts were left out and weren’t released until later on. “In 1997 a complete edition of the original text was published by Penguin Books with an introduction by Allen Ginsberg; sections of the manuscript referring to Burroughs’s homosexuality,”Junkie

In this electronic literature created by Alan Trotter, The Brain Drawing the Bullet the author created a hypertext story that was unlike others that would take you to different spaces. The story wouldn’t move but the words would change. They would physically change. Just like a murder when there are multiple witnesses the fabrication of the story line of the events unfolding becomes more and more complicated. Recollection of how the events came to be are adjusted, the reason behind the event, was there ever a motive? The night of Joan Burroughs murder wasn’t one of shock or surprise. Plenty of people were enjoying a drink, her and her husband would play a trick of skill with his gun and too much alcohol in the mix led to her untimely death. This part of the story is understandable, it is the editor of this story that makes it interesting. Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 4.08.54 PMThe obsession took a toll as the editor became more and more invested into making sure the book was to be published. As if the editor took over the persona of William Burroughs, “L” which full name is never revealed tries to recreate the events of the night of Joan’s death. Trying to hire women to take part of his game, purchasing a gun and marking a woman’s forehead as if this was target practice. It was the overwhelming determination to get this published and his rationalization of the event that became revealed at the end of the story. After hearing all of the stories from the guests which all remember the panic of the husband and the shock, that is not what was taken from this event. The conclusion from the editor in turn was that the wife and Inga the woman who was used in his version of the experiment had it coming. That the bullet was drawn to their heads. The glass never shattered.

“31 January

I took the gun from the suitcase and said ‘It’s time for our William Tell act.’ She wouldn’t put the glass on her head, not to begin with. She was the one who had been drinking all day, but I was shaking violently, even though it was important that I was sober. Joan, Burroughs’ wife, had once been walking down the road and thought white worms were crawling out of her skin. She had a junk habit and a benzedrine habit. She had a death wish and her brain drew the bullet toward it. Inga had a junk habit and a death wish, and the cut worm forgives the plow. The mark 4.5 mm left of the midline of her forehead bled, and the glass rolled on the floor and the brain drew the bullet toward it.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 3.22.43 PMThis was such a compelling piece of electronic literature in not only the way it intertwined with a true story, but it draws you into a world of fascination and overwhelming obsession. The mind set that the editor was in, writing emails over and over as it was the only thing on his mind. There was nothing else that mattered only the story and believing that there was an intention. It was an addition that I wish William Burroughs would have read because I believe he would have been fascinated just as I was with this piece. I recommend going to the author’s site and finding more of his works because even his personal site takes you on a hypertext journey. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *