Fresh From My Hot Little Paws

Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me [Fantagraphics, 2012]

A review posted at RealityStudio of Malcolm Mc Neill’s spellbinding memoir, Observed While Falling, recently published by Fantagraphics Books, about his relationship with William S. Burroughs and their artistic collaboration.

Mc Neill is an artist who can write. Really write. He brings a fresh analytical eye to the familiar Burroughsian fixations — synchronicity and doppelgangers, control systems, the word as virus, the number 23 — that dominate the memoir, while still offering a straightforward chronicle of the author’s relationship with le maître.

OWF draws an indelible word portrait of Burroughs unlike anything I’ve read elsewhere. He humanizes the man by showing us his unexpected generosity as well as his forbidding intelligence, and by capturing funny, intimate moments with quickly sketched tales and an ear for dialogue that will make you laugh.

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  1. says

    I like the thoughts in your amazingly articulate review. Our understanding of the world is based on the idea that it is infinitely large and can be infinitely divided. Zeno’s paradoxes evolve and when truly examined even basic conceptions such as large and small fall apart. There is space, but at some point there is no in-between. In this Alice In Wonderland world the nonsense of Burroughs, of course, makes perfect sense. Fact can only be fiction in a world premised upon paradoxes. I wonder if the reenactment of the intersection of Mayan and Judeo/Christian views of which the book speaks would be represented by Coronado’s rape, pillage, and destruction. Is there any in-between? Nothing has ever made sense to those with any sense. Entanglements. In the beginning was the Word. And as Senor Burroughs tells us, the Word is a virus. Burroughs is too nihilist to be nihilist. I hope this doesn’t make sense. Here now? What now?