Keith Seward, in a remarkable piece of detective work, susses out the mystery behind an enigmatic literary figure. I quote from his intro:
In the summer of 1959, with Olympia Press about to publish the first edition of Naked Lunch in Paris, William Burroughs was raving about the work of another writer. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso — they all paled, Burroughs declared,in comparison with an unknown who was possibly “the greatest writer of our time.” He was rich and eccentric, this newcomer. He was a cripple and a junky. He was capable of great generosity and abusive tantrums. He could be unnervingly eloquent and equally incomprehensible. Burroughs took to calling him “the mad baron.”
Go read the piece to find out who he was and what became of him. And while you’re there, check out an amazing archive of rare materials, including the text of the experimental novel that elicited such praise from Burroughs, along with previously unheard audio recordings, as well as a terrific excerpt from Stewart Meyer’s unfinished novel Memory Chips, about his first meeting with the man in question.
Then have a look at Jed Birmingham’s latest report, AbeBooks sucks, from the RS bibliographic bunker. It’s about Amazon’s invasion of the online market for rare books and why that’s bad not just for collectors but for anybody who reads books.