Oliver Harris: William Burroughs and the Torso Murderer

Abstract

Viktor Wynd’s Little Shop of Horrors, situated unassumingly on Mare Street in Hackney, is a beguiling emporium of which William S. Burroughs would no doubt have approved. There are shrunken heads on sale, and sinister bibelots. Hendrick’s gin is served in teacups. A foetal piglet slumbers on a shelf, a pair of Labrador testicles floats in formaldehyde, and the majestic, taxidermed head of a warthog charges into the lurid backroom where tonight’s lecture takes place. The locale is apt: like Burroughs, it is “dreamy and innocent”, whilst also being “ravaged and vicious”, and the sense of double-exposure explored by Oliver Harris in his dexterous introduction to the recently re-issued edition of Queer is made freakishly palpable by the sight of a two-bodied lamb encased in glass, and by the bicephalous teddy-bears on sale by the till.

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Cran, R., (2011) “Oliver Harris: William Burroughs and the Torso Murderer”, Opticon1826 10.

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Rona Cran (UCL)

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