Books by William S. Burroughs

Released: Feb. 7, 2012

"Each letter is a window that permits a fresh view of a most complex and revolutionary writer."
A continuation of the selected letters of the unique writer in the same format as editor Olivia Harris' The Letters of William S. Burroughs 1945-1959 (1993). Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2008

"More of interest as a literary curio than as a work of art, though shrewd neobopsters will probably want to be seen with copies in hand."
A potboiler by two noted authors written in 1945, long before they were famous, and published now for the first time. Read full book review >
THE PLACE OF DEAD ROADS by William S. Burroughs
Released: May 6, 2001

"In sum, then: only for the coterie."
It becomes more and more difficult to believe that Burroughs can be seriously read by anyone much over 21, by anyone but a post-adolescent with a self-congratulatory streak of perversity. Read full book review >
CITIES OF THE RED NIGHT by William S. Burroughs
Released: May 6, 2001

"Kirkus's view still holds: 'a dry schist of pornographic semi-moralism so flavorlessly numbing that we can't really imagine it offending' anyone, puritans or plain-old readers."
As long as the Beat Generation continues to engage self-styled hipsters, counter-culturalists, and transgressors, the work of the late Burroughs (1914-97) will continue to waste precious wood pulp. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2000

"Perhaps not intended for the public eye and definitely in need of heavy editing, these notes may disappoint even the most fervent Burroughs fans."
This last testament by American cultural icon Burroughs (Ghost of Chance, 1995, etc.) comprises the disjointed diary entries the terminally ill author jotted down between November 14, 1996, and August 1, 1997. Read full book review >
GHOST OF CHANCE by William S. Burroughs
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

"Or maybe not wholly lost: At book's end is an address, with an appeal for funds to help save the lemurs."
From the strange and venerable Burroughs, a tiny slip of a book (to include 17 illustrations by the author) that becomes a cri de coeur for ecological sanity. Read full book review >
MY EDUCATION by William S. Burroughs
Released: Jan. 1, 1995

"Die-hard fans will no doubt scoop this up, others need not go beyond Naked Lunch, preferably in David Cronenberg's movie version."
As Burroughs's last book of prose (The Cat Inside, 1992) demonstrated, his publishers will print anything by the octogenarian hipster, even a silly cat book. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1993

"Early documents from the Godfather of Grunge."
The MTV generation's idea of an outlaw-writer, Burroughs finds himself a minor/grand old man of sorts—which is why, presumably, this book. Read full book review >
THE CAT INSIDE by William S. Burroughs
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

"The hipster's (and hepcat's) answer to Cleveland Amory."
The septuagenarian beatnik would seem to be the least likely author of a cat book, but Burroughs has clearly mellowed some and here celebrates his favorite "psychic companions." Read full book review >
THE WESTERN LANDS by William S. Burroughs
Released: Dec. 1, 1987

"Lots of great quirky ideas here; but the imagery is repellent and the delivery helter-skelter from—some may feel—the Hieronymus Bosch of fiction."
The conclusion of a trilogy incorporating Cities of the Red Night (1981) and The Place of Dead Roads (1984)—and, like its predecessors, a chaotic, sometimes nauseating, fitfully funny melange of gore, sexual perversion, and surreal science fiction. Read full book review >
QUEER by William S. Burroughs
Released: Nov. 1, 1985

"Certainly more than enough."
Written in 1952, Queer remained unprinted all these years, its publishers tell us, because of its "candid homosexual content, and. . .its author's own reluctance to make public the painful events it recounts." Read full book review >
INTERZONE by William S. Burroughs
Released: Feb. 1, 1982

"In all, food for doubt that adds little to the Burroughs reputation."
Reading this collection of Burroughs' unpublished work from 1953 to 1958, "you are present at the beginning" of his career, as his editor gushes. Read full book review >
Released: May 25, 1981

"Otherwise, this is more a portrait of others' need for Burroughs to be an elder Great than of the more modest (and more engaging) actuality."
After the resounding thud made by Burroughs' last novel, Cities of the Red Night, these transcriptions of table-talk serve some rehabilitative purpose, presenting a picture of an aging, conservative, serious man who, with his best work perhaps now behind him, admits himself that he may have come to sound "like some sort of great nineteenth-century crank who thought that brown sugar was the answer to everything and was practicing something he called brain breathing." Read full book review >
Released: March 9, 1981

Burroughs worked over ten years on this novel, we're told; it's being touted as a companion-piece worthy of Naked Lunch. Read full book review >
PORT OF SAINTS by William S. Burroughs
Released: May 1, 1980

"This sweet quiet of memory can sometimes be found beneath the metallic fury and comic wrath—but the bulk and surface here remain incorrigibly repellent."
A revised version of a 1973 work, this is avant-gardist Burroughs once again with his "wild boys"—a punishingly pornographic fantasy of amoral, extraterrestrial, vengeful, homosexual youths wreaking havoc on the heterosexuality, political repression, and general awfulness of American society. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1978

"It's all the more obvious when you read a really written piece like 'In the Present Time,' which is Burroughs more or less straight, a marvelous carny comic with a wonderful rat-ta-tat delivery; the collages—and the essays about how to make them—seem gray and tendentious by comparison."
Not the vast raw "scrapbook" it was originally designed to be (which was probably unpublishable), this anthology of Burroughs and Gysin's use of the "cut-up" method details a way to go beyond collaboration in writing and into "new connections between images." Read full book review >
Released: May 6, 1975

This is Burroughs' most accessible, tightly knit work of fiction—a gruesome, hallucinatory exposition of the dying words of Prohibition mobster Dutch Schultz. Read full book review >
EXTERMINATOR! by William S. Burroughs
Released: Aug. 22, 1973

"Burroughs is never going to write."
Another compendium of sci-fi, horror-erotica, and general culture-snuffing by America's richest ex-junkie. Read full book review >
THE WILD BOYS by William S. Burroughs
Released: July 1, 1971

"In The Wild Boys he is weird and he is comic, but the pornography isn't at all inventive; there are abrupt successes, a few interesting failures, and a great deal of waste motion we used to call masturbatory in between."
Burroughs has always had an avidity for freaks and circuses, show biz types and Hollywood, so it is no surprise that in his latest work "the camera is the eye of a cruising vulture flying over an area of scrub, rubble and unfinished buildings on the outskirts of a Mexican city," or that a number of scenes take place in a Penny Arcade Show where the fevered teenagers are "naked except for blue steel helmets" and are being buggered left and right, or that among the perennial grotesques scrambling across North Africa or the American suburbs we should meet CIA men with tape recorders or loony generals howling about "anarchy, vice, and foul corruption," or that, finally, with the Chinese and Russians nibbling away at the edges of consciousness, the excremental vision swallows the unwary: "Quite suddenly they were silent looking at each other and with one accord seized by uncontrollable diarrhea." Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1970

"For the acculturated who will want a further expansion of this mind."
That nightcrawling grandmaster of inner space talking on tape about most of the trends he represents and has set: the new novel which will suggest multileveled experience; pornography (is there such a thing?); drugs; power; the general repulsiveness of the ordinary scene from which he is altogether disengaged; other writers (although he says he never heard of Wright Morris who called his Naked Lunch a hemorrhage of the imagination); words and imagery. Read full book review >
THE SOFT MACHINE by William S. Burroughs
Released: June 15, 1966

"It is impossible to describe the book further except in terms of obscenity and opprobrium."
Junk Mr. Burroughs knows and junk he writes. Read full book review >
NOVA EXPRESS by William S. Burroughs
Released: Oct. 23, 1964

"Ah, what a bonanza for the alka seltzer trade."
THE TICKET THAT EXPLODED by William S. Burroughs
Released: June 19, 1867

"The Ticket That Exploded, then, is another anti-utopian cry against the future of 'complete control,' the horror beyond the picture window, clownish surrealism which speaks louder than fact."
To produce an apocalyptic vision in the terms of a depraved Mack Sennett comedy, replete with vaudeville monologues on the absurd, is perhaps William Burroughs' thoroughly upsetting achievement, before which, to paraphrase Freud, any critic must lay down his arms. Read full book review >