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Last Words: The Final Journals

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  584 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs is the most intimate book ever written by William S. Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch and one of the most celebrated literary outlaws of our time. Laid out as diary entries of the last nine months of Burroughs's life, Last Words spans the realms of cultural criticism, personal memoir, and fiction. Classic Burroughs con ...more
Paperback, 273 pages
Published January 3rd 2001 by Grove Press (first published February 2000)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Sophy H
The most poignant parts of this book were the ones referring to his pet cats. Awww did he love his feline friends!!

Otherwise I found the book a bit too disjointed and rambling, even for Burroughs. It felt as though the editors just gathered up as many pieces of scrap paper from Burrough's place after he died and then just printed what was on them to "get the punters in". Felt marginally exploitative.
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This guy loved his kittys like nothing else. Nice to see a junky in the light of day. Living a simple life and reflecting on a wild past. Very soft and at times sad. At his age you are mostly saying goodbye to people and places. I thought it was very cute.
Jun 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: journal-diary
In the last nine months of his life, Beat novelist William S. Burroughs began keeping a journal. In it, he looks back at his career as a writer, comments on the books he is reading (e.g. Under Western Eyes, The Last Don, Invasion, The Night Manager) and writes down his observations with regard to a number of subjects including art, weapons, the psychoanalytic industry and the war on drugs.

Unlike many published journals by other writers, The Last Words of William S. Burroughs does not appear to h
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Burroughs bows out in style with a very humanistic touch..

Burroughs' final journals are a rich, elegant, humorous and singular collage of a great mind at work..the journals are a highly original amalgam of famous quotes (the "No glot, clom Fliday" quote is finally explained for example), fleeting memories of his boyhood at Los Alamos or times in Tangier and Paris (with Brion Gysin), London, Mexico, homages to Allen Ginsberg who had just passed away and current preoccupations such as his cats or
Kanske Svartfors
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Love? What is it? Most natural painkiller what there is.” -W.S.B

These were the last words in his diary. He meant love that he felt for his cats, love that could from time to time ease the fact of never ending, perpetual conflict and struggle that is life - existence without no permanent satori or solution - love as painkiller numbs the pain but wears off; thus, the analogy for a medicine.

I have always liked the quote but the context pondered me - I was not disappointed.

About the book:

It is a d
Jul 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
currently re-reading. i'm working on a book called an improviser's notebook, and i think i'm in the final stretch, just looking for a bit of reference to remind myself the kinds of things my favorite writers think about in the journal format.

i don't love this work, and ok, it was published after wsb's death, and maybe he would not have wanted them published. from the late writings that are short and journal-ish in nature (THE CAT INSIDE, and the book of dreams), this is maybe the weakest in term
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Svetlana Zakharova
отличное лакомство для литературного вуайериста вроде меня. Б. близок к смерти и кружит над ней и вокруг нее - сам себе стервятник, сам себе гиена. цикличность, которая сродни слепоте - тычешься, тычешься, а вдруг и находишь лакомый мамин сосочек, тут и доволен уже.
константы: наркотики и коты; сладкоголосые грабители и многоножки (вообще разные насекомые и только в качестве кошмара); невозможность писать (душевная - Хэмингуэй с его "it doesn't come any more" и физическая - Б. и артрит) и отважн
Stephanie Orban
Apr 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book best read after learning all that one can learn about William S. Burroughs, only to realize that even the most notorious can still offer you an unique view into the last days of his life. In particular, his heartache involving Allen Ginsberg's is very touching, as well as his love for his numerous cats. ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
So the creepy old misogynist did have a heart!? It was a privilege to read the words of a 20th century elder so close to their natural death ...& for it to be Burroughs?! Digging The Greys & thoughts on dissent right 'til the end. Such tender words on the spaces left behind by one's pets after death. Much of it no idea but for momentary flashes of audacity that moved me. ...more
George K. Ilsley
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wasn't sure how much I would like this. Basically, it's WSB's diary for the last several months of his life, lightly edited. In fact, if you're a fan, it's a remarkable glimpse inside the head of a major writer, on the brink of death.

Oh yes, and cats. Always the cats.

The cats are a guide, and a muse. Cats are the path.
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
I bought this bk in a terrible Virgin Megaplace in Times Square in '06. I was going on a long plane flight and needed a bk, and this was as good as I could find in that place.

It turned out to be a great purchase, by turns funny, wise, and inspiring. Thanks always to old Bull Lee.
Feb 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very enlightening for burroughs. He could be so simple and normal if he wanted.
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Love. What is it? Most powerful painkiller what there is. LOVE." ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
His thoughts/ramblings are interesting, poignant, crazy, mundane, rebellious, and he was way ahead of his time. I appreciated his final entry, just 3 days before he passed, professing his immeasurable love for his cats.
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
These journals are a pleasure to read, an intimate portrait of the last days of a legend.
Ernest Hogan
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Impressive how he was so clear-headed, focused, and vicious up to the very end.
Kurt Gottschalk
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
The diary William S. Burroughs kept during the last eight months of his life (the final entry being the day before his body was found at his home in Lawrence, Kansas, after suffering a heart attack) may not hold huge surprises but it contains many pleasant discoveries. On the one hand it is something like reading one of his novels: the narrative (if it's fair to put such a standard to a personal journal) jumps around conceptually and chronologically and is held together by threads of drug policy ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird, auto-biography
If you like the mad old man of letters, with a penchant for drugs, guns, and a love of cats, then this collection of journal entries covering the last year of his life is pretty fascinating stuff.

There's his views of US drug legislation, some fictional passages, and his memories of Ginsberg and the beats.

A great insight into the mind of a genius.

(Then again, if you don't like/get his work, then it's going to seem as batshit crazy as his other books)
Repetitive but rather relaxing ramblings on cats, guns, books, drugs and death. I like mr. Burrough's very last words: 'only thing can resolve conflict is love, like I felt for Fletch and Ruski, Spooner and Calico. Pure love. What I feel for my cats present and past. Love? What is It? Most natural painkiller what there is. LOVE.' Shows after a lifetime of writing about depraved sexual violence, he had a heart after all. ...more
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Jumbled between daily journal entries of missing cats and what he ate, and ideas and concepts of story ideas. It reads pretty much like a Burroughs novel of shuffled ideas and conversation threads but with less plot structure than normal.
Burroughs is one of those writers who are iconic. So I began reading him. I have read enough to find him fascinating and repulsive by equal measure and turn about. I probably will read more eventually. Maybe I'll figure out the mystique, maybe not. ...more
Dominic Salvucci
Jul 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sal-s-books, history
Between 3 and 4 stars. Pretty much what I expected, would love to see the unedited work. Some repetition in his writings, but they are reflections of a dying man on meds for kicking addiction. He was still creating and active to the end. You always wonder what is left out in books like these.
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Last entry:

"Love? What is it?

Most natural painkiller what there is.

Nov 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
The last year or so of Mr. Burrough's life. The dreams, the cut-ups, ruminations. The last layers of the onion peeling away. And, of course, the cats... ...more
Ryan Berkebile
Feb 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Wow! William S. Burroughs as a tender old man. He became very attached to cats and cried when they ran off or died.
Matthew Stolte
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Love this book.
Jul 06, 2007 rated it did not like it
Pathetic final journals. Completely uninteresting.
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
worth the read. great insights into his last thoughts, some great turns of phrase. puts his relationships with ginsberg in a nice perspective.
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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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