A belated farewell to William Burroughs, avant-garde novelist and patriarch of the Beat Generation that spawned Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso and the recently departed Allen Ginsberg. According to an Associated Press obituary, Burroughs died of a heart attack Aug. 1, at age 83 -- a surprisingly old age considering his youthful addictions to alcohol and heroin.
Were it not for the novel Naked Lunch, Burroughs might be most remembered for a drunken night in 1951 when he tried to shoot a liquor glass off the top of his wife's head. He missed and killed her. Their son became a junkie and alcoholic who died of cirrhosis in 1981.
In later years, however, Burroughs concentrated on writing (The Soft Machine, Nova Express), and the snazzily dressed figure became a kind of grand old man for survivors and descendents of the Beat poets.
He influenced (and worked with) such musicians as Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed, and in 1993 collaborated with Tom Waits and director Robert Wilson on The Black Rider, which was staged at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music with a German cast.
--By David Lefkowitz