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Burroughs, William S(eward)

naked heroin lunch

(US, 1914–97)

William S. Burroughs attributed his longevity to heroin, the subject of his autobiographical first novel, Junky (1953), originally published under the pseudonym William Lee. This is a plainly narrated account of how the central character became addicted to heroin and his various recoveries and relapses. Its distinctive black humour reappears in full force in the hallucinatory, episodic Naked Lunch (1959), which was released as a film in 1991, directed by David Cronenberg. Naked Lunch is not easy reading, but is extremely inventive and playful—with, some have argued, a strong moral purpose. Burroughs's later novels such as The Soft Machine (1961)—a series of ‘routines’ on the theme of oppressive power—feature the ‘cut up’ and ‘fold-in’ techniques he developed. These involve literally cutting and folding different texts together, creating new, if not always very accessible, meaning.

  Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Irvine Welsh  SV

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