The Wild Boys

03-197207XX-09THE WILD BOYS: A Book of the Dead. William S Burroughs (Calder & Boyars £2.50)

If you were in Marrakesh and heard about a gang of petrol-bomber boys, you too could start a fantasy of sexy teenage boys in the future. They wear only rainbow-coloured jockstraps and roam the bandit lands, a law unto themselves. You also want to be nostalgic about 1920 and a shy boy called Audrey who goes for a car ride with his mysterious schoolmate. You remember all those aloof youths in America and Mexico who seem to belong in another alien time-dimension and you transport them through the barriers. Then, if you are William Burroughs, you see it all like a movie, with all the rough-cuts and re-takes left in. and you get the marvellous kaleidoscope called The Wild Boys.

The plot only reveals itself two thirds through this short book, although all the ingredients are around from the beginning. In 1976 General Greenfield reads out a letter:

“Dear Mom and Dad:
I am going to join the wild boys. When you read this I will be far away.

Can we stand idly by while our youth, the very life-blood of our nation drains away into foreign sewers?” They couldn’t. Of the 20,000 soldiers who marched away, only 1,500 staggered back from the desert, the rest sent mad by a killer virus, and finished off by the boys with machine guns. That was the last Great American Crusade, a chapter which is a hilarious send-up of all the expeditionary forces that ever were.

Then in 1989, the story and civilisation is abandoned. Nobody is really alive. In Morocco the rich live in total luxury and cynically finance the saboteurs. The poor go to the wall and the CIA prowl knowledgeably but ineffectually around. But the wild boys are evolving by themselves. With the help of Mayan magic they have jerked through the barriers to gain the other time-dimension.

There are glider boys with laser guns, naked bow gun boys, shaman boys who ride the wind, and many more, including those who have control of beasts and bugs: “Five naked boys release cobras above a police post. As the snakes glide down, the boys move their heads from side to side. Phalluses sway and stiffen. The boys snap their heads forward mouth open and ejaculate. Strangled cries from the police box. Faces impassive the boys wait until their erections subside”. They can create offspring by pulling down mist to make flesh, forming from the anus outward on the prick of the entranced boy in the middle of the orgy ring. A great fantasy of penis power, but no practical ideas for GLF.

Many of the early scenes in the book are about innocent sex between ordinary boys, like the time when Johnny has crabs and Mark makes him undress. The same encounters take place again and again in successive paragraphs. like re-writes or an attempt to remember a long time ago. The action is always fast and ultra-graphic, but not really pornographic which would be the attempt to supply the reader with all the details for a substitute sex life. But for any male gay. this book is very very erotic.

Straight reviewers have carefully said that the sex nearly overwhelms the rest of the book; that it is of only academic interest to the heterosexual reader, and so forth. Let others write in praise of older women or nymphets (and without getting such censure). We can only rejoice at this celebration of one form of good sex. Read it once to enjoy the brilliant pictures passing by. Read it twice to judge for yourself if there is any significant theme other than Burroughs himself (probably not), and a third time for the writing of all the other sideshows. Read it once anyway.

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