The Wild Boys

Title: The Wild Boys

Author: William S. Burroughs

Publish Date: 1971

Genre: Experimental fiction

Page Length: Approximately 200 pages


The Wild Boys is a novel written by renowned American author William S. Burroughs, first published in 1971. This experimental fiction masterpiece pushes the boundaries of conventional storytelling, presenting a dystopian and chaotic world where young boys rebel against the oppressive society they live in. Burroughs skillfully interweaves themes of power, masculinity, violence, and the exploration of unconventional sexualities.

Set in a fictional future, The Wild Boys is divided into six sections, each presenting a distinct episode in the lives of these unruly boys who exist outside the confines of societal norms. These boys are part of the Wild Boy movement, a group formed by marginalized individuals fighting against the ruling system.

In section one, titled “The Discipline of D.E.”, the author, writing in a detached and clinical style, introduces us to the concept of “DE” or “Disposition Effect.” Young boys force a captured soldier to undergo the Discipline of D.E., a ritualistic act that involves stripping the victim naked, blindfolding him, and engaging in violent sexual acts. This ritual aims to break down the individual’s sense of self and instill the Wild Boys’ fierce independence.

Moving on to section two, “Cutoff”, we witness a violent confrontation between the Wild Boys and the armed police force known as the Interzone. The boys resort to guerilla tactics and utilize advanced weapons to eliminate their oppressors and reclaim their freedom. Throughout this chapter, Burroughs explores themes of rebellion and the ruthless pursuit of power.

Section three, named “Dispatch”, changes the narrative’s focus as it delves into the backstory of the Wild Boys through a series of letters written by a narrator. These letters provide glimpses into the boys’ origins, their diverse backgrounds, and the circumstances that led them to join the movement.

The fourth section, “The Boys: Demolition Pornography,” takes readers on a journey across various locations as the Wild Boys continue their violent rebellion against the status quo. The narrative explores the growing rift within the movement as some boys desire a more organized and political approach, while others prefer their undisciplined and frenzied endeavors.

In the penultimate section, “The Ten Thousand Years”, Burroughs tackles the idea of immortality and the Wild Boys’ quest to transcend physical boundaries. The theme of eternal life finds its expression as the boys explore means of extending their existence beyond the confines of their mortal bodies.

Finally, in the last section, the narrative shifts gears completely. “The Dead Star” introduces a new protagonist, Kim Carsons, who becomes the embodiment of the Wild Boys’ anarchic spirit. Carsons engages in various activities that subvert societal norms, leading up to a brutal climax where he defies the established order and ushers in a world of chaos and rebellion.

The Wild Boys is a unique and challenging novel that exposes the readers to a profoundly disorienting world, forcing them to confront themes of power dynamics, the nature of masculinity, and societal oppression. Burroughs’ ambitious experimental style demands an active engagement from readers as they navigate the fragmented narrative and explore the dark depths of human existence.

More than just an audacious display of literary skill, The Wild Boys serves as a thought-provoking reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of society, the implications of rebellion, and the inherent complexities of human nature. Through its unapologetic exploration of taboo subjects, Burroughs crafts a narrative that resonates with the reader and encourages critical examination of inherited values and social structures.

The Wild Boys remains an important work in the realm of experimental literature, igniting conversations and challenging established norms. Its impact lies in its ability to provoke and disturb, enabling readers to question the boundaries of identity, power, and the role of individual agency in a rapidly changing world.