Steve Buscemi has lined up quite the cast for his next directorial effort. The Boardwalk Empire actor is poised to direct an adaptation of William Burroughs’ novel Queer, and Vulture reports that Guy Pearce, Ben Foster, and Buscemi’s Boardwalk Empire co-star Kelly MacDonald are set to star. The book was written in 1952, after Burroughs accidentally shot and killed his wife. The story, which mirrors Burroughs’ emotional and psychological state at the time, centers on an American named William Lee living in Mexico City, weighed down by drugs, guilt, and lust. The project is still in the early stages, and financing isn’t yet firmed up, but Rampart director Oren Moverman wrote the script and told Vulture that the plan is to shoot the film during Buscemi’s next hiatus from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Hit the jump to read the synopsis for the novel.
In an introduction, Burroughs observes that he wrote this heretofore unpublished picaresque novel in 1951, well before Naked Lunch established his reputation. He reveals that the book had its genesis in a terrible event: his accidental shooting to death of his wife, Joan, a tragedy that released the black wellsprings of his talent. The narrative recounts the hallucinatory life of William Lee, an American in Mexico City in the 1940s and his journey to Ecuador with his reluctant lover, Eugene Allerton, in search of the drug Yage. Lee is Burroughs after the killing, weighed down by guilt, drugs, lust and despair; seeking lethe. Admirerers will find an early exposition of Burroughs’s later themes here, as well as a strain of gallows humor. The work is almost cinematic as it unfolds; the author is not yet experimenting with the meaninglessness of language, and, indeed it is thin in both thought and expression. [Amazon]