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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,134 ratings  ·  39 reviews
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 s...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 1st 1990 by Penguin Books (first published 1987)
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I hate Burroughs. I hate myself for liking this.

The first section of the book is a series of very short stories, funny and offbeat, yet somewhat mediocre, still enjoyable. The last section is the obnoxious, nonsensical, Naked Lunch word-salad Burroughs is know for (I just skimmed those last 40 pages.) The middle section, journals entries, letters, and story fragments, falls somewhere in-between a traditional narrative and his trademark random asinine nonsense, and is delightful, the clash of Ea...more
A good collection of early work by Burroughs. This book shows the spectrum of the man's work. Divided into three sections, each section is just long enough to engage and enthrall without being too excessive. For instance, the first section contains fairly 'straightforward' tales with little experimentation, stories both of gritty realism and fantasy.

The second section features extracts of the journal Burroughs kept during his drug years in Tangiers as well as letter to such personalities as Gins...more
Unless your baby swallows a quarter, you'll never have to dig through so much infantile shit for so little reward. Seriously, I'd like to blow this book out my ass (with a great bronx cheer) into the toilet where it belongs.
Philip Same
I am convinced, now, that Burroughs, ( It would be foul of me to claim this true for each of his works), is by and large more intriguing in principal than he is in practice. Perhaps it is me, my inhibitions, my preconceived notions of left to right and, perhaps, even an infinitesimal manifestation of clarity that does so vehemently scoff at the words presented to me in an order arranged by Mr. Burroughs. Through Burroughs's later writing, I've resolved, the conscious mind is made to drool and sc...more
Reid Luzzader
This obscure book by Beat writer William Burroughs contains some of his earliest work. Parts of it are fragmentary, but the best of the first 130 pages are written in the straightforward semi-autobiographical style of his novel Junky, and give a compelling portrait of being down-and-out in Tangiers. The remainder of the book, “Word”, is a precursor to his novel Naked Lunch, but is not nearly as good. It looks like he had started using his cut-up technique, the result being unreadable in any norm...more
Suzanne Roussin
My all-time favorite Burroughs book. Junkie's Christmas is my idea of a perfect Christmas stories.
I have long avoided Burroughs' writing on account of a strong suspicion that I would not really appreciate it. I picked this collection up because I found myself in need (professionally) of sampling his style and prose, and a collection of shorter text seemed more appealing than leaping into a longer piece of writing (especially considered some of my preconceptions of what Burroughs' writing entails).

The collection opens with a very useful introduction by editor James Grauerholtz, who provides a...more
Interzona è un libro estremamente ghiotto che non può mancare ai lettori appassionati della beat generation, o anche solo a chi s'è lasciato rapire dal fascino di William Burroughs.
Chiave di volta di quella splendida costruzione che è la Tetralogia Nova, Interzona è un libro multiforme che raccoglie lettere, racconti giovanili, appunti, bozze e altre diavolerie targate Burroughs, che va a completare il quadro della scrittura dell'autore nel decennio di Pasto nudo.
Introdotto da una preziosissim...more
I can't give this less than four, because the leap it documents was so daring and influential. At the same time, the intro and other ancillary material is practically as long as the rest of the actual book! Still, it's exciting to see Burroughs make his leap from a straightforward narrative style to a practically brand-new literary form.

One thing about this book that I don't see a lot of other reviewers commenting on here is how primary the role of correspondence was for Burroughs, especially d...more
Hhmm.. well there's another edition listed here from Penguin, same date, same ISBN, different cover, &, most importantly, DIFFERENT NUMBER OF PAGES. It's an Amazon listing wch I've come to learn means OFTEN WRONG, sometimes DRASTICALLY WRONG - like listing the wrong author, giving a bk description that's for a completely different bk, etc. I suppose those mistakes cd've been added by someone else later & might not always originate w/ Amazon but if I see a mistake or something that seems...more
Eric Conner
Apr 15, 2009 Eric Conner rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Burroughs/
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ed Smiley
This is essentially a compilation of William S. Burrough's notebooks, and chronicles his very bizarre passage towards becoming a (very bizarre) writer.
There are revealing points of sentiment, especially his repeated sorrows about the death of Joan (his wife, killed accidentally by his hand in a drunken game of William Tell), and his admission that he was subject to erratic compassion, and although sometimes cold could not endure the suffering of a child; he ruthlessly expunged sentimentality in...more
A fascinating collection of Burroughs short stories, plus some stream of consciousness fragmentary writings, so much Burroughs "thing".

The Junkie Christmas was an oddly optimistic piece, considering the subject matter; I'd wager anything Bill would have given his left arm in real life to get high without the drugs, using pure altruism.

The other story, who's title escapes me, revolves around the main character, undoubtedly autobiographical, seeing the ugliest core of a little Tunisian man who hat...more
This is great for fans of Burroughs, others should probably start with Junky or Naked Lunch first, depending on how adventurous you want to get.

Interzone gives great insight into Burroughs' writing. For example, the location which Burroughs sets many of his later books, Interzone, is a reference to Tangier and the fact that it is split up between multiple countries, therefore, international zone. My favorite parts of this book are when he breaks the fourth wall, since many of the stories were o...more
I really enjoyed the short stories. Some of Burrough's journals and travel writing are hilarious and provide some interesting insight into the evolution of his writing. The longest part of the book is the final section,"Word". It was pretty difficult to get through... a bunch of free associations and words that sound nice when paired together. Some of it was funny, but its kinda that same stuff he did (much better) in Naked Lunch.
Oh dear, where do I start? Well, the first part (i.e. the first 60-70 pags) was great but the last part of the book which was stream-of-consciousness (which I am okay with - sometimes like Joyce or Faulkner okay) is made mince-meat by the addition of Burroughs' trademark cut-ups, rendering the text largely incoherent or repulsive and that is coming from someone who can stomach pretty heavy stuff. I have read plenty of Burroughs' books and have been able to stomach most of them but this just gets...more
Kevin Cole
Interesting for Burroughs fans to see the switch from writing straight narrative to the Burroughs we all know and love or hate.
This collection shows the incredible variety of work Burroughs was capable of. I am going to make "A Junky's Christmas" an annual holiday re-read. I would have liked to read a whole book of stuff like "Spare Ass Annie", which reminded me of the weirder frontiers of Borges.

*Not*, as many of the other reviews here make obvious, for anyone who is viscerally repulsed by Burroughs.
Nov 13, 2008 Basswood rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in Burroughs' journey as a writer from Junky / Queer to Naked Lunch
Fascinating insight into Burroughs' journey as a writer from the precise, cool irony of Junky and Queer, to the hallucinatory vision of Naked Lunch. However, I would recommend reading both the former and the latter first, as they are both aesthetically satisfying more as works 'in themselves'.
That was the worst thing I've ever read. I've never wanted to throw away or, better yet, burn a book before until now. It would be mean to give it back to the thrift store. Completely gross and not in a good way. My OCD to finish what I start has kept me through some slow starts that got better. This just got worse until the end turned into a stream of consciousness shit finale.
David Enos
The only book of his that I could get all the way through...short stories, some humorous. Really straightfaced, so wildly over the top and using 'unique writing techniques' in describing these lurid scenes happening in another dimension it becomes funny, especially imagining him growling it out while typing on some obsolete typewriter where you have to forcefully jab the keys.
I enjoyed the stories at the beginning and would give them 3 - 4 stars. However in book three the style of writing changes completely. This was supposedly the background book or the rough draft of Naked Lunch, and based on the third section of this book I can totally see it. I'd say read the first two sections and skip the last one.
I've been rereading this(I first read it when I was 15). I originally had the first edition, but it was stolen from me. I reordered the paperback, and realized how much I still love it. Burroughs has always been one of my most cherished writers. I highly recommend the documentary "Burroughs: A Man Within".
Sophie Ashcroft
follows the writer into madness at the end, adjust accordingly.
This is sort of like a William Burroughs companion reader. There's moments of isolated brilliance, but the rest is less of a finished product and more like the notes and drafts if his other work. Good read for a fan, but don't read this if you're not already entrenched.
It's got great lines but terrible passages that last for a dozen pages. A few ok short stories (if lisping parapalegics are your thing) and Lee's Journals are worth a read. Everything else is pretty unremarkable, no matter what the intro says...
Paul Greer
Early writing, cobbled together, some good bits, last 60 pages a tirade of pure nastiness (not for the squeemish or vaguely pure-of-heart).

best read something else by him, something good. (Western Lands?)
Nick Black
Some of Burroughs's finest work outside of Naked Lunch.
James Newman
Not essential Burroughs. But worth it for Spare Ass Annie, the Christmas story and Bill's attempt to write articles on life in Tangiers. I feel the WORD section is missable.
This is not the best of William S. Burroughs, but it does provide more of the type of material that made up "Naked Lunch" and his other cut-up technique novels.
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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...more
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