Interzone

Interzone

by William S. Burroughs
     
 

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In 1954 William Burroughs settled in Tangiers, finding a sanctuary of sorts in its shadowy streets, blind alleys, and lowlife decadence. It was this city that served as a catalyst for Burroughs as a writer, the backdrop for one of the most radical transformations of style in literary history.

Burroughs's life during this period is limned in a startling collection

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Overview

In 1954 William Burroughs settled in Tangiers, finding a sanctuary of sorts in its shadowy streets, blind alleys, and lowlife decadence. It was this city that served as a catalyst for Burroughs as a writer, the backdrop for one of the most radical transformations of style in literary history.

Burroughs's life during this period is limned in a startling collection of short stories, autobiographical sketches, letters, and diary entries, all of which showcase his trademark mordant humor, while delineating the addictions to drugs and sex that are the central metaphors of his work. But it is the extraordinary "WORD," a long, sexually wild and deliberately offensive tirade, that blends confession, routine, and fantasy and marks the true turning point of Burroughs as a writer-the breakthrough of his own characteristic voice that will find its full realization in Naked Lunch. James Grauerholz's incisive introduction sets the scene for this series of pieces, guiding the reader through Burroughs's literary evolution from the precise, laconic, and deadpan writer of Junky and Queer to the radical, uncompromising seer of Naked Lunch. Interzone is an indispensable addition to the canon of his works.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Burroughs seems to grow ever more trite with the passage of time, his rebellion against society a lame thing. Fans will probably enjoy this fragmentary collection of letters, journal entries, stories and autobiographical sketches from the mid-1950s. In style the pieces range from straightforward sociological descriptions of Tangier, where he has dope and young boys, to Kafkaesque fables (``Dream of the Penal Colony'') to surreal, manic pastiche. In another story, the protagonist cuts off the joint of his little finger, then pops into his psychiatrist's office and makes light of his condition. The centerpiece is ``WORD,'' a long, hitherto unpublished section from the working manuscript ( Interzone ) that eventually became the novel Naked Lunch. Rediscovered in 1984, ``WORD'' is a hipster's incoherent cosmic rant, sexually wild and often deliberately offensive. Burroughs's sense that we are all specters in a waking nightmare, so dominant in his recent fiction, is prefigured here in a futuristic sketch of a nameless U.S. city wracked by forces of evil and repression. (Feb.)
Library Journal
``Interzone'' was the working title of Burroughs's Naked Lunch , the bulk of which was written in the international zone of Tangier. The material in this collection is divided into three sections: ``Stories,'' ``Lee's Journal,'' and ``Word.'' The stories, including ``Twilight's Last Gleaming,'' are more realistic than Burroughs's later work, drawing heavily on autobiographical experiences and recalling the hard-boiled detective style of Junky and Queer. ``Lee's Journals'' contains sketches, routines, and notebook entries from the mid-1950s. ``Word,'' a long, rambling, scatological piece cut from the original manuscript of Naked Lunch , is of value chiefly as a historical curiosity. While this book will have little effect on Burrough's reputation, it will be welcomed by his growing readership.-- William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140094510
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/28/1990
Edition description:
Subsequent
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
1,451,801
Product dimensions:
5.06(w) x 7.71(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)—guru of the Beat Generation, controversial éminence grise of the international avant-garde, dark prophet, and blackest of black humor satirists—had a range of influence rivaled by few post-World War II writers. His many books include Naked Lunch, Queer, Exterminator!, The Cat Inside, The Western Lands, and Interzone.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 4, 1914
Date of Death:
August 2, 1997
Place of Birth:
St. Louis, Missouri
Place of Death:
Lawrence, Kansas
Education:
Los Alamos Ranch School; A.B., Harvard University, 1936; graduate study, 1938

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