The Stale, Continued

Lessons in the Aphotic

Ghost of Chance by William S. Burroughs

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Ghost of Chance

I read this through a couple of shifts at work at the book store. This particularly slim volume is as radiant as it is intoxicating. Burroughs blends his comedic theatrics with researched biology, drug use, and Central/South American culture to form a story that’s actually a direct statement on humanity’s relentless meddling with nature. The use of the lemur is particularly powerful, where Burroughs consistently drives the point home by describing how friendly, intelligent, and pet-like the lemurs can be, yet how we humans, who kill for pleasure, will never have a positive relationship with the lemurs.

In addition, there are some horrific descriptions of disease, and the analogy that humans take on to viruses is quite awesome in its success.

The problems with this book lie in that it almost feels incomplete–it is far too schizophrenic for any coherent plot to be formed (there are three major sections and an afterward, and each has its own plot–sometimes characters pass between one section, sometimes they are confined), and at times it almost seems far too pretentious. Being one of Burroughs’s later books, I wonder if he took his prolific status and abused it to put forward something that didn’t meet previous work’s standards.

Despite its failings, this book is short enough to read and not consider a waste of time, and the facts on South America and animal extinction are so eccentric and hard to find in other literature that the book will seem more worth your time than it actually may be.

Written by Greg Bem

January 19, 2009 at 1:06 am

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