Author(s): Burroughs William S
The first novel in William Burroughs' anarchic 'Cut-Up Trilogy'. A world populated by hanged soldiers, North African street urchins, addicted narcotics agents, Spanish rent boys, evil doctors, corrupt judges and monsters from the mythology of history or the laboratories of science - Burroughs was truly the Hieronymus Bosch of the twentieth century. In this surreal, savage and brilliantly funny novel, his famous 'cut-up' technique, the slicing and random folding in of words, transforms the narrative into an extraordinary, unequalled new form of prose poetry, taking us deeper into the dark recesses of Burroughs' imagination.
'"The Soft Machine" has its background in the underwater cities of Flash Gordon serials, broken-down towns in South America, faded photos and 1920s films in seedy movie houses. Essential reading.' Observer '[Burroughs'] great fictions [show] his superb, hard-edged satirical visions of cancerous and addictive consumerism; his elegiac and poetic invocations of sadness and dislocation; his enormous fertility of ideas and imagery.' Will Self, Guardian 'A world compounded of myth and science fiction in which freedom and order are eternally opposed. Out of the dirt, the excrement, the couplings, Burroughs makes a disgusting, exciting poetry.' Sunday Times Praise for William Burroughs: 'Burroughs is the greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift.' Jack Kerouac 'Burroughs' voice is hard, derisive, inventive, free, funny, serious, poetic, indelibly American, a voice in which one hears transistor radios and old movies and all the cliches and all the cons and all the newspapers, all the peculiar optimism, all the failure.' Joan Didion 'The only American novelist who may conceivably be possessed by genius.' Norman Mailer 'In the English language, William Burroughs is the greatest writer alive. His imagination has tackled head-on the post-war world, with its huge bureaucracies and sinister complexes. He has a paranoid vision, but as he himself said: the psychotic is someone who knows what's really going on.' J. G. Ballard, Sunday Times 'William Burroughs broadened people's conception of what makes humanity. In that way, he really was an American hero, a hero writer, and also just a great man.' Lou Reed
William Burroughs was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1914. Immensely influential among the Beat writers of the 1950s - notably Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg - he already had an underground reputation before the appearance of his first important book, 'Naked Lunch'. Originally published by the daring and influential Olympia Press (the original publishers of Henry Miller) in France in 1959, it aroused great controversy on publication and was not available in the US until 1962 and in the UK until 1964. The book was adapted for film by David Cronenberg in 1991. William Burroughs died in 1997.