“Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1986” first appeared in print in Tornado Alley, a chapbook published by William S. Burroughs in 1989. Two years later, Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, My Own Private Idaho, Milk) shot a montage that brought the poem to film, making it at least the second time the director adapted the beat writer to film.
If you’ve seen Burroughs use Shakepseare’s face for target practice, or if you’ve watched The Junky’s Christmas, you’ll know that he wasn’t kind to convention or tradition. And there are no prisoners taken here, as you’ll see above.
For background on Burroughs read the New Yorker piece, “The Outlaw, The extraordinary life of William S. Burroughs.” Find the text for “Thanksgiving Prayer” here.
Now time for a little Thanksgiving dinner….
If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.
If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, Venmo (@openculture) and Crypto. Thanks!
Hear a Great Radio Documentary on William S. Burroughs Narrated by Iggy Pop
Gus Van Sant Adapts William S. Burroughs: An Early 16mm Short
William S. Burroughs’ Short Class on Creative Reading
How to Jumpstart Your Creative Process with William S. Burroughs’ Cut-Up Technique
William S. Burroughs’ Class on Writing Sources (1976)
A Look Inside William S. Burroughs’ Bunker
A Short Visual History of America, According to the Irreverent Comic Satirist R. Crumb