Burroughs to Capote: You Have Placed Your Services at the Disposal of Interests Who Are Turning America Into a Police State

Letters of Note has reproduced a scathing letter from outlaw beat writer William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch, Junkie, The Soft Machine, etc.) to Truman Capote upon the publication of his novel In Cold Blood:

I have read the recent exchange of genialities between Mr Kenneth Tynan and yourself. I feel that he was much too lenient. Your recent appearance before a senatorial committee on which occasion you spoke in favor of continuing the present police practice of extracting confessions by denying the accused the right of consulting consul prior to making a statement also came to my attention. In effect you were speaking in approval of standard police procedure: obtaining statements through brutality and duress, whereas an intelligent police force would rely on evidence rather than enforced confessions. You further cheapened yourself by reiterating the banal argument that echoes through letters to the editor whenever the issue of capital punishment is raised: “Why all this sympathy for the murderer and none for his innocent victims?”

This is perhaps the kindest part of the letter. It gets harsher from here.

Read more at Letters of Note.



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  • Robert Pinkerton

    Confessional jurisprudence is nothing less than the vilest abomination that mankind has ever created.

  • Nunzio X

    For whatever reason, I find myself wishing I could watch a fistfight between Burroughs and Capote.

    A skinny junkie writer versus a simpering effeminate writer.

    My money would be on Burroughs, but we couldn’t reasonably expect to see much more than a glorified slap-fight.

    • http://2012diaries.blogspot.com tristan eldritch

       Burroughs would probably watch Capote mincing and shadow-boxing for a minute or two, before taking out one of his guns and ending the fight Indiana Jones-style.

      • Nunzio X

        Or William Tell-style:

        Bonus points to Burroughs if he could convince Capote to put a highball glass on his head first. “Now stand really still, Truman…”

      • howiebledsoe

        Yeah, just aim for the apple on Truman’s head….. 😛

        • fukkie

           You clearly don’t know WSB’s history, do you? What are you talking about an apple for? He always used a highball glass in the william tell routine, at least the night he missed.

    • cakeypig

       Burroughs might know some weird oriental instant-kill technique

      • Nunzio X

        He’d charge Capote with a syringe filled with nothing but air, jab him hard, and push the plunger.

        Hello, embolism. Goodbye, Capote.

        • Calypso_1

          You’ve got to have really good aim to make that happen.  It helps to have a good choke hold first.

          • fukkie

            Thank you for saying what I was about to say. -A true WSB fan

      • Calypso_1

        Capote’s highball would have had Candiru poison in it.

  • Haystack

    William S. Burroughs was such a sweet, kindly old man.