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William S. Burroughs - book author

William Seward Burroughs II, (also known by his pen name William Lee; February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century". His influence is considered to have affected a range of popular culture as well as literature. Burroughs wrote 18 novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. Five books have been published of his interviews and correspondences. He also collaborated on projects and recordings with numerous performers and musicians, and made many appearances in films.
He was born to a wealthy family in St. Louis, Missouri, grandson of the inventor and founder of the Burroughs Corporation, William Seward Burroughs I, and nephew of public relations manager Ivy Lee. Burroughs began writing essays and journals in early adolescence. He left home in 1932 to attend Harvard University, studied English, and anthropology as a postgraduate, and later attended medical school in Vienna. After being turned down by the Office of Strategic Services and U.S. Navy in 1942 to serve in World War II, he dropped out and became afflicted with the drug addiction that affected him for the rest of his life, while working a variety of jobs. In 1943 while living in New York City, he befriended Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the mutually influential foundation of what became the countercultural movement of the Beat Generation.
Much of Burroughs's work is semi-autobiographical, primarily drawn from his experiences as a heroin addict, as he lived throughout Mexico City, London, Paris, Berlin, the South American Amazon and Tangier in Morocco. Finding success with his confessional first novel, Junkie (1953), Burroughs is perhaps best known for his third novel Naked Lunch (1959), a controversy-fraught work that underwent a court case under the U.S. sodomy laws. With Brion Gysin, he also popularized the literary cut-up technique in works such as The Nova Trilogy (1961–64). In 1983, Burroughs was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1984 was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France. Jack Kerouac called Burroughs the "greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift", a reputation he owes to his "lifelong subversion" of the moral, political and economic systems of modern American society, articulated in often darkly humorous sardonicism. J. G. Ballard considered Burroughs to be "the most important writer to emerge since the Second World War", while Norman Mailer declared him "the only American writer who may be conceivably possessed by genius".
Burroughs had one child, William Seward Burroughs III (1947-1981), with his second wife Joan Vollmer. Vollmer died in 1951 in Mexico City. Burroughs was convicted of manslaughter in Vollmer's death, an event that deeply permeated all of his writings. Burroughs died at his home in Lawrence, Kansas, after suffering a heart attack in 1997.

William S. Burroughs is the author of books: Naked Lunch, Junky, Queer, And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, The Soft Machine (The Nova Trilogy #1), Cities of the Red Night, The Yage Letters, The Wild Boys, Nova Express (The Nova Trilogy, #3), Exterminator!

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01
The book is structured as a series of loosely connected vignettes. Burroughs stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order. The reader follows the narration of junkie William Lee, who takes on various aliases, from the U.S. to Mexico, eventually to Tangier and the dreamlike Interzone.

The vignettes are drawn from Burroughs' own experiences in these places and his addiction to drugs (heroin, morphine, and while in Tangier, majoun [a strong hashish confection] as well as a German opioid, brand name Eukodol, of which he wrote frequently).

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02
Before his 1959 breakthrough, Naked Lunch, an unknown William S. Burroughs wrote Junky, his first novel. It is a candid eye-witness account of times and places that are now long gone, an unvarnished field report from the American post-war underground. Unafraid to portray himself in 1953 as a confirmed member of two socially-despised under classes (a narcotics addict and a homosexual), Burroughs was writing as a trained anthropologist when he unapologetically described a way of life - in New York, New Orleans, and Mexico City - that by the 1940's was already demonized by the artificial anti-drug hysteria of an opportunistic bureaucracy and a cynical, prostrate media. For this fiftieth-anniversary edition, eminent Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris has painstakingly recreated the author's original text, word by word, from archival typescripts and places the book's contents against a lively historical background in a comprehensive introduction. Here as well, for the first time, are Burroughs' own unpublished introduction and an entire omitted chapter, along with many "lost" passages, as well as auxiliary texts by Allen Ginsberg and others.
03
Paperback edition. One of Burrough's most searing and astonishing writings. Dark, funny and full of the insights learned by courageous and intelligent writers who have genuinely lived on the very edges of society.
04
On August 14, 1944, Lucien Carr, a friend of William S. Burroughs from St. Louis, stabbed a man named David Kammerer with a Boy Scout knife and threw his body in the Hudson River. For eight years, Kammerer had fawned over the younger Carr, but that night something happened: either Carr had had enough or he was forced to defend himself.

The next day, his clothes stained with blood, Carr went to his friends Bill Burroughs and Jack Kerouac for help. Doing so, he involved them in the crime. A few months later, they were caught up in the crime in a different way.

Something about the murder captivated the Beats, especially Kerouac and Burroughs, who decided to collaborate on a novel about the events of the previous summer. At the time, the two authors were still unknown, yet to write anything of note. Narrating alternating chapters, they pieced together a hard-boiled tale of bohemian New York during World War II, full of drugs and art, obsession and violence, with scenes and characters drawn from their own lives.

They submitted their manuscript—called And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks after an absurd line from a radio bulletin about a circus fire—to publishers, but it was rejected and confined to a filing cabinet for decades. Finally published, at long last, And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks tells the story of Ramsay Allen and the object of his fixation, the charismatic, idealistic young Phillip Tourian. Phillip and his friends drink and dream in the bars and apartments of the West Village, until, with his friend Mike Ryko (Kerouac's narrator), he hatches a plan to ship out as a merchant marine. They'll catch a boat for France and jump ship, then make their way through the front to Paris.

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks is an engaging, fast-paced read that shows the two authors' developing styles. It is also an incomparable artifact, a legendary novel from the dawn of the Beat movement by two hugely influential writers.
05
In Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs revealed his genius. In The Soft Machine he begins an adventure that will take us even further into the dark recesses of his imagination, a region where nothing is sacred, nothing taboo. Continuing his ferocious verbal assault on hatred, hype, poverty, war, bureaucracy, and addiction in all its forms, Burroughs gives us a surreal space odyssey through the wounded galaxies in a book only he could create.
06
While young men wage war against an evil empire of zealous mutants, the population of this modern inferno is afflicted with the epidemic of a radioactive virus. An opium-infused apocalyptic vision from the legendary author of Naked Lunch is the first of the trilogy with The Places of the Dead Roads and his final novel, The Western Plains.
07
An early epistolary novel by William Burroughs, whose 1951 account of himself as as junkie, published under the pseudonym William Lee, ended Yage may be the final fix. In letters to Allen Ginsberg, an unknown young poet in New York, his journey to the Amazon jungle is recorded, detailing picaresque incidents of a search for a telepathic-hallucinogenic-mind-expanding drug called yage (Ayahuasca, or Banisteripsis Caape), used by Amazon indian doctors for finding lost objects, mostly bodies and souls. Author and recipient of these letters met again in New York, Christmas 1953, and edited the writings to form this single book. The correspondence contains the first seeds of the later Burroughsian fantasy in Naked Lunch. Seven years later Ginsberg in Peru writes his old guru an account of his own visions and terrors with the same drug, appealing for further counsel. Burroughs' mysterious reply is sent. The volume concludes with two epilogues: a short note from Ginsberg on his return from the Orient years later reassuring Self that he is still here on earth, and a final poetic cut-up by Burroughs, I am dying, Meester?
08
The Wild Boys is a futuristic tale of global warfare in which a guerrilla gang of boys dedicated to freedom battles the organized armies of repressive police states. Making full use of his inimitable humor, wild imagination, and style, Burroughs creates a world that is as terrifying as it is fascinating.
09
The Soft Machine introduced us to the conditions of a universe where endemic lusts of the mind and body pray upon men, hook them, and turn them into beasts. Nova Express takes William S. Burroughs’s nightmarish futuristic tale one step further. The diabolical Nova Criminals—Sammy The Butcher, Green Tony, Iron Claws, The Brown Artist, Jacky Blue Note, Izzy The Push, to name only a few—have gained control and plan on wreaking untold destruction. It’s up to Inspector Lee of the Nova Police to attack and dismantle the word and imagery machine of these “control addicts” before it’s too late. This surrealist novel is part sci-fi, part Swiftian parody, and always pure Burroughs.
10
Conspirators plot to explode a train carrying nerve gas. A perfect servant suddenly reveals himself to be the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu. Science-fantasy wars, racism, corporate capitalism, drug addiction, and various medical and psychiatric horrors all play their parts in this mosaiclike, experimental novel. Here is William S. Burroughs at his coruscating and hilarious best.