I walked downtown today, to the old library (you must refer to it heretofore as the ‘old’ library with the new one looming.) The Friends of the Library hold a book sale every Friday. I was fortunate enough this morning to pick up an extra copy of William S. Burroughs Naked Lunch.
Inside I found this note:
I love finding things in books. Notes or random bookmarks. Here are a few entries from The Book of Books which explore this near-fetish.
# Ashley reminded me that I once used a peeled sheaf of blistered skin from the bottom of my foot for a bookmark. I’ve used receipts, paper money, condom wrappers, letters, photographs, strands of Angela’s brown hair, postcards, smaller books, cough drop wrappers, a plucked blade of grass, fallen leaves, pencils, clean squares of toilet tissue, and scraps of paper with scrawled phone numbers in a pinch. At the moment I’ve got a promotional bookmark from Microcosm Publishing stuffed between the pages of Tender is the Night and a business card from Adult Protective Services tucked in Gravity’s Rainbow. The used booksellers at Abebooks.com claim to have found Thousands of dollars, a Christmas card signed by Frank Baum, a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, a marriage certificate from 1879, a baby’s tooth, a diamond ring and a handwritten poem by Irish writer Katherine Tynan Hickson.
# Found an appointment slip dated January 7th for the Downtown Mental Health Center between pages of The Portable Paul and Jane Bowles at the library. It may have been in the book 3 months. My first thought was that our friend whose name appeared on the slip planted it as a kind of art project, later I realized she was clinically crazy.
also from The Book of Books by Jimmy Jazz
Naked Lunch • William Burroughs — Kerouac titled this book for Burroughs supposedly because it forced one to see what was on the end of the fork. My belief that the writing trumps the writer doesn’t preclude me from being fascinated by cults of personality. For a long time I thought the beat generation had three people in it. The rest I described as hangers on. Burroughs was so far out (Norman Mailer called him a genius) it would be difficult to hang on. He had no imitators. I find him jocular in the extreme. There was a talking asshole in this book, for god’s sake. Some mods I knew back in high school would hover around their Vespa scooters talking of Dr. Benway, which I mistook for a Beatles reference. I vaguely suspected it had something to do with drugs.