“I love to say it because it upsets everyone terribly—Burroughs is probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.”
From this amazing interview that Ray Bradbury gave to the Paris Review.
That’s not William S Burroughs he’s talking about. It’s Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of the Tarzan books.
I still remember my dad buying me a bunch of used 25 cent paperback books about Mars, Venus, the jungles of Africa, and Pellucidar (the stone-age world at the center of the Earth where time doesn’t exist). That shit was amazing for my little 8- or 10- year old mind. I can still remember some of the phrases he used regularly, the sexy stone-age women battling saber-tooth tigers, and Tarzan fighting the alpha male of his group, finally emerging as King of the Apes.
I think Bradbury might be onto something there. He mentions it elsewhere in the interview also, that miserable neurotic literary critics in New York have convinced everybody that great literature has to be about miserable neurotic people in New York. There’s a lot to be said for pure imagination, though.
It doesn’t take a genius to be miserable, and any mediocre person can be neurotic. It does take some kind of brilliance to imagine a new world and create it on a page.
See also: The Zen of Blogging.