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The Soft Machine (The Nova Trilogy #1)
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The Soft Machine (The Nova Trilogy #1)

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  4,590 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews
In Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs revealed his genius. In The Soft Machine he begins an adventure that will take us even further into the dark recesses of his imagination, a region where nothing is sacred, nothing taboo. Continuing his ferocious verbal assault on hatred, hype, poverty, war, bureaucracy, and addiction in all its forms, Burroughs gives us a surreal space ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published January 13th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1961)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”In order to accomplish the purpose I prostituted myself to one of the priests---(Most distasteful thing I ever stood still for) ---During the sex act he metamorphosed himself into a green crab from the waist up, retaining human legs and genitals that secreted a caustic erogenous slime, while a horrible stench filled the hut---I was able to endure these horrible encounters by promising myself the pleasure of killing this disgusting monster when the time came---And my reputation as an idiot was b ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 100-mccaffery, 2017
'Breathe in Johnny -- Here Goes --'


I respect rather than love it. Like Gravity's Rainbow's sewer scene on his knees, bare as a baby ... or William T. Vollmann's telephone exchange between steel reefs, a wire wrapped in gutta-percha vibrates: I hereby...zzZZZZZ...the critical situation...a crushing blow....The sleepwalker's all eyes; the realist is all ears; their mating forms the telephone. Later perhaps, I see parts, flashing, cut-in, from David Lynch this is a formica table or Cronenberg's no
Feb 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know it is experimental. It reminds me of those alchemists' experiments when they tried to produce gold from excrements. And failed. Ultimately they were just dabbling in shit.

This book reads as if Burroughs swallowed words like rectal mucous, compost heap, jissom, masturbate, cock, dropped his pants. And just threw them up on the page.

This is not even a stream of consciousness, or unconsciousness for that matter. When I am completely off my face, haven’t had any sleep for 30 hours, and I’m t
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Imagine that the cable box has only 20 channels. Imagine that these channels are playing a variety of sex films, a documentary on parasitic and poisonous insects of the amazon, a sci-fi police drama strangely analogous to Dr. Who (no Daleks, sorry), and a film about junkies. Now imagine what all this would look like when the TV was set to jump randomly among channels every few seconds. This is the best description I can give to the text of The Soft Machine, however this belies the strange almost ...more
Jan 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: part-read
If you imagine the stereotype of an avant-garde, experimental book, that's The Soft Machine. Sure, it's a clever idea, but actually reading it would be a painful thing. My process reading the book went like this:

p.5 (the start) - what's going on here?
p.6 - how long is this going to continue?
p.9 - oh, it's going on for the whole book.
p.13 - I can see how this style conveys a delirious, fractured mind and world.
p.20 - but I'm not really getting anything else out of it by reading more.
p.27 -
Apr 03, 2013 marked it as to-read
I know, that experiment. They are reminded that it is an alchemist experiment to try to produce gold dung. And it failed. In the end, they're just a hobby Sanya shit. I need to get this book? Misunderstanding. In severe cases of amnesia precedence, the stereotype of the avant-garde, experimental book:
Page 5 Start - What's going on here?
6th - two hours here?
P.9 is - this is the entire five books.
P.13 - This style is a way to pass the bullshit, fractures of the mind and the world I see.
Page 20 - b
Jun 29, 2007 rated it liked it
This book forever burned the words "rectal mucus" into my psyche. Carbolic acid and rectal mucus. Thanks BB!
Oct 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The one book by Burroughs that separates the fans from the curious. The curious usually think 'no, I am not going there.' Relentless sexual assault mixed with very experimental writing makes this book... Charming! I love Burroughs' voice. I also think he's one of the great satire writers of all time. A true American (drug addict) original!
Sentimental Surrealist
It hit me with a certain amount of force yesterday that I'd read eight books by William S. Burroughs between July and November of 2012 and zero in the entirety of 2013 and 2014. What had happened to the young rebel? Had he calmed? Dare we say he made peace with the world?

Well, it was a slow realization, but here's the essence of the problem: William S. Burroughs was not a great writer. An interesting one? Definitely. An influential one? I'll go along with that. A key part of shaping my tastes in
Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I find the work of William Burroughs fascinating, but I’m not sure I always understand it. In fact, his most experimental books, of which this is a prime example, are utterly incomprehensible from a rationalist, linear perspective. Their meaning seeps in to the subconscious and the reader is left with the feeling that they have almost but not quite grasped some profound set of truths fixed in a story that remains enigmatic, disturbing and genuinely strange.

The main conceit behind *The Soft Machi
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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
More about William S. Burroughs...

Other Books in the Series

The Nova Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Ticket That Exploded (The Nova Trilogy #2)
  • Nova Express (The Nova Trilogy, #3)
“I was working the hole with the Sailor and we did not bad fifteen cents on average night boosting the afternoons and short timing the dawn we made out from the land of the free but I was running out of veins.” 0 likes
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