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During WSB100, a month-long celebration of William S. Burroughs’ 100th birth in April 2014, actor/director Steve Buscemi teamed up with experimental composer and longtime collaborator Elliott Sharp for an entertaining, yet mesmerizing reading of the late author’s writings.
Arguably, the best way to read Burroughs is to hear him. Words on the page seem to fall flat compared to listening to his Midwestern drawl sneer contempt for hypocrisy, authoritarianism and ignorance, the words suddenly coming alive and dancing in his raspy inflection. Unfortunately, now he can only read to us from the disembodied voice of old recordings since he physically left us in the late ’90s. Enter Steve Buscemi, certainly a talented individual, but in these readings he ceases to become himself, completely embodying the spirit of the writer. This is a personal performance, Burroughs’ best routines – Dr. Benway, the man who taught his asshole to talk, word = image = virus, Hassan i Sabbah, writing, junk and more – flowing together as a stream of consciousness novella where the ideas, not the words, are cut-up into an entirely new work. Beside Buscemi, Elliott Sharp provides the soundtrack, eerie bits of guitar distortion, feedback and sound subtly improvised to the vocal inflection, a perfect background for the subject of the image.
Whether you’re an avid Burroughs reader or just dipping your toe into his bibliography, Rub Out The Word serves as an essential entry to his catalog. Let Messrs. Buscemi and Sharp unlock the gate and infect you with his virus.
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