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Ghost of Chance

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  810 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Ghost of Chance is an adventure story set in the jungle of Madagascar and filled with the obsessions that mark the work of the man whom Norman Mailer once called, "the only American writer possessed by genius." While tripping through the author's trademark concerns—drugs, paranoia, and lemurs, this short novel tells an important story about environmental devastation in a w ...more
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published 1995 by High Risk Books / Serpent's Tail (first published 1991)
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Glenn Russell
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive.” William S. Burroughs, Ghost of Chance

Last summer at a street fair in Portland, Oregon one of the booths displayed a banner: “Stop Breeding.” I picked up one of their postcards, which read: “Not having kids may be the best thing you can do for the environment.”

Reading Ghost of Chance, author William S. Burroughs is undoubtedly of similar mind. He alerts readers that on the island of Madagascar the human population is growing o
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ghost of Chance is a scathing lambastic indictment of the madness of mankind and a dire warning that we are all heading towards our own destruction.

With this in mind, i want you all to know that I'm giving this 5 stars because of the importance of Burroughs' message in this book. If I were to rate it purely on narrative structure, I would probably only give it 3 stars but it's really really important for people to read this.

Everyone is familiar with Burroughs' acidic sardonic sense of humour an
George K.
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 20th-century
Βαθμολογία: 7/10

Τελευταία φορά που διάβασα Γουίλιαμ Μπάροουζ ήταν τον περσινό Φεβρουάριο, τότε που διάβασα σε μια μέρα το "Αδερφή". Έτσι, λέω από μέσα μου, καιρός ήταν να διαβάσω ξανά κάτι δικό του, οπότε και έπιασα το "Μιας στις χίλιες", μια πολύ μικρή νουβέλα που διαβάστηκε σε περίπου μιάμιση ώρα.

Πολύ περίεργη νουβέλα, σε σημεία ίσως λιγάκι ακαταλαβίστικη, αν και μικρή σε μέγεθος απαιτεί αρκετή προσοχή για να πιάσει κανείς τα μηνύματα που κρύβονται πίσω από την (όποια) πλοκή και τις προτάσεις
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
last book of burroughs, at first it was a bit too much for me but in the end it was challenging enough and brought food for thought
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
I was somewhat reluctant to read yet-another Burroughs bk given that I've already read so many & that there're so many other writers out there to read.. BUT, it was worth it! Burroughs' incisive, acerbic imagination held my attn once more. The bk's plentifully interspersed w/ black & white repros of paintings wch I reckon must be by Burroughs - since they're not credited otherwise. These are mostly busy energy patterns, semi-abstract-expressionist, probably more than a little influenced ...more
No Books
Nel suo Critica della democrazia occidentale , l’antropologo anarchico David Graeber ricorda che le comunità dei pirati atlantici nel XVIII secolo furono per certi versi una formulazione precoce di quelle che oggi ci piace definire, a volte solo formalmente, come democrazie occidentali: “Era lo spazio perfetto per un esperimento interculturale. Di fatto, non c’era a quel tempo in tutto l’Atlantico un terreno più adatto per impiantare nuove istituzioni democratiche” (ed. elèuthera 2012, p. 81). ...more
Perry Whitford
Jan 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Interesting but undeveloped morality tale of Swiftian nastiness from literary outlaw Burroughs, like a tasty but thin slice of his regular (naked) lunch.

Inspired by a French frigate captain turned pirate who founded a utopian society named Libertatia in Madagascar,around 1700, many of the writer's typical obsessions get a brief airing, supplemented with some odd and largely didactic footnotes.

A curse leads to diseases both destructive and darkly comic, humanity suffers the vengeance it deserves
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009, novel
This was the first Burroughs I read, and I loved it. It's a short novella about a pirate captain and lemurs and Burroughs' cranky, yet beautiful, musings on society. There were passages that made me sigh they were so beautiful, and that surprised me because I didn't expect that kind of lyricism from Burroughs. But there's a sublime grotesqueness to the latter passages that seems more in line with what I knew of him. Altogether a brilliant, engaging novella that earned its five stars from me for ...more
A really short read and a strange one… It’s actually a little bit of everything. A little bit of environmental and ecology issues, a little bit of history with the story of Captain Mission and then the spread of disease by the dead Captain Mission… I enjoyed the new diseases that he mentioned especially the Christ Sickness and the «essay» about Homo Sap that «with his weapons, his insatiable greed, and ignorance so hideous it can never see its own face».
It’s more of a poem in which Burroughs add
Nov 13, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story about a man named Mission who loves his little lemur and will go great lengths to protect him from the big bad world with big bad evil people who will destroy Cap's lemur and everything else by mass consumption and .., I get it, Billy, I do. I love me some pirates and little furry friends and hate when people are unnecessarily cruel. I don't know whether he should've been told to stop the drug use or get into even heavier stuff..?
Bartolomeu De Bensafrim
o último quarto do livro perde-se num mastigar pouco original e saboroso - como se o fantasma de um editor chicoteasse por mais.
os três primeiros quartos são muito bons - por vezes geniais.
é espantoso como com pouquíssimas linhas Burroughs consegue solidificar Mission e a colónia, e tornar credível e fundamental a busca espiritual do capitão, e a sua relação com as criaturas extintas.
igualmente boa a personagem de Martin e todo o nojo (característico à nossa raça) que ele evoca.
a estupidez human
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Burroughs was one of the first writers I ever really loved, and this was the first book of his I ever read. When I was a kid, I didn't think reading was particularly cool, but having bands I liked (Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Throbbing Gristle, Patti Smith) back then name-drop him made me give his stuff a chance and it really turned my head around as far as what words could do. I'm glad this was my first exposure to him as well, as it's one of the easiest of his works to read.

That said, it's not entir
Eric Cartier
Technically his final novel, this is far from Burroughs' best text, although I read it a second time (it's short). The reason for a fan or interested reader to see this is for its black and white reproductions of his abstract paintings (the hardcover was first published by the Library Fellows of the Whitney Museum of American Art). Burroughs began knocking out oils in his golden years, and they're remarkable for their structural balance, hypnotic lines and depth (like his best writing: see Naked ...more
May 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
there are two things that really intrigued me about this book. first was the pirate captain mission who set up a free colony on madagascar with many of the same values that the french and american revolutions would emphasize nearly a century later. second was the mention of a lemur/octopus. what would this creature look like? i'm picturing an octopus with big beautiful lemur eyes, and i like it.
altogether a good book, although a bit too much rambling for me, and also i would say that burroughs f
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
This book really was not my cup of tea --- although I completely agree with some of the message and can admire some of the writing. This is a short work and I think one of the last from Burroughs. I have not read anything else by him, so I'm not sure if it is typical. For a short work, it takes on quite a bit including how man is the worst thing to happen to the planet, how Jesus was the ultimate trickster, and governments are corrupt. There is not a real narrative, although it begins with the s ...more
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I can always remember when I was a teenager and I had to drag over chairs to get to the very top of my father's bookshelf to drag down the (then complete) collected works of William S. Burroughs. As a teen full of rage I had a strong stomach and devoured his works, careful not to crack the spines because of my fear of getting caught; now I cannot even pick them up. Still, I think the least-horrifying of his books would be this one. Diseases, lemurs, and the most amazing use of footnotes in all o ...more
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
un racconto che per personaggi, ambientazione e temi sembra un frammento inedito della trilogia della notte rossa che non ha trovato spazio in nessuno dei tre libri: se come me si preferisce quel periodo di burroughs è un libro da leggere, per gli altri potrebbe risultare incomprensibile. e che peccato che i quadri dell'autore che dividono alcuni capitoli siano in bianco e nero: avrei speso volentieri una manciata di euro in più affinchè fossero a colori. ah, tra la storia dei pirati ribelli e u ...more
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-loans, 2013
Ghost of Chance commences with the story of Captain Mission, a pirate who established a utopian settlement in Madagascar. Mission is obsessed with lemurs and proscribes their killing. An event occurs that devastates Mission, who calls down a curse on all involved.

Burroughs develops this story into a tirade against mankind's devastation of the environment, the stifling effect that religion has had on our sensibilities and the disease-like nature of our civilisation. This novella is one very angry
Steven Wilson
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
One of my favorite books from Uncle Bill. Comedian Bill Hicks called the human race "a virus with shoes". Burroughs has expanded that thought into an entire novella. Ghost Of Chance is a quick read which is not typical of Burroughs' work (for me anyway). It is thought provoking and the language is incredibly poetic. For those who are new to Bill Burroughs this may be a safe place to start. If you are intrigued by Ghost Of Chance you can explore the more adventurous (drug addled?) side of Burroug ...more
Apr 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first experience in reading William S. Burroughs, and of course I start with one of his more obscure works. Having read this, I'll definitely have to read his more well-known stuff.

If you are a fan of Mr. Burroughs already and have not read Ghost of Chance, treat yourself to it. It's short - 58 small, lightly typeset pages - and can be read entirely in one relatively quick sitting. And I think it is best read all at once, the better to appreciate the links between each section.
Arax Miltiadous
είναι αλήθεια οτι αυτό το τελευταίο βιβλίο του Μπαροουζ θεωρείτε καθαρά "φαντασίας".
παραμένει φυσικά ισχυρό το στίγμα τις απαρέγκλιτης του πνευματικότητας.
λέει ότι ο χρόνος είναι μια ανθρώπινη οδύνη και όχι μια ανθρώπινη επινόηση. πως είναι μια φυλακή.
επίσης λέει οτι κανένας δεν μπορεί να φροντίσει αυτούς τους μελλοθάνατους που αρνούνται πεισμωτικα να φροντίσουν τον εαυτό τους.. να μιλα άραγε για τον εαυτό του?
σίγουρα. \
αξίζει φυσικά να διαβαστεί, μικρο, συμπυκνωμένο, καμία επαφή ομως με τις στι
Oct 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Starts out with a retired pirate captain studying lemurs and fifty pages later mankind is wiped out.

Lots of of interesting ideas and images that just kind of stumble around, pretending to be a story. It sort of all comes together at the end, but I think that's more a happy accident than anything planned by Burroughs. He just happened to stop typing there.

Despite that, it was all fairly entertaining and got me thinking.
Mostly about how a man goes from being a drug addict to obsessing over lemurs
Kirk Johnson
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this 1995 edition burrough's short sort-of-a-story, written a few years after his final novel, contains seventeen illustrations by the author, which are a cross between Jackson Pollock and Rorschach. whatever the merits of the illustrations on their own, in context they attain a true life, creeping images from your subconscious. god only knows what other readers saw; i know what i saw. the text, while not groundbreaking for burroughs, and containing his trademark detached from reality theories, ...more
Vladimir Toss
Nov 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Народ Лемуров старше, чем Homo Sap, намного старше. Их возраст насчитывает сто шестьдесят миллионов лет, время, когда Мадагаскар отделился от африканского континента. Их способ думать и чувствовать принципиально отличается от нашего, он не ориентирован во времени, они не имеют представления о последовательности и случайности, эти категории для них противоречивы и непонятны."
Лучшая вещь у Берроуза.
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed it, especially towards the ending where there were several, quite amusing, things to read. I had a difficult time understanding at first and comprehending what was happening etc. but that might've been because of my unfocused mind. Overall I enjoyed this short read. Burroughs is funny, smart and odd. It was a very weird book, exactly how I like them. Memorable quote: "panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive."
Filippo Sottile
In queste densissime pagine Burroughs non risparmia niente e nessuno: i cristianesimi e i capitalismi ne escono fuori malconci. L'operetta, nel suo complesso, è però un peana per la fragilità degli esperimenti libertari, le modalità di espressione sono a volte un po' beat, ma le osservazioni illuminanti e i passaggi lirici si sprecano.
Ben Lovegrove
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beatniks
One of Burroughs' last works written when he discovered his love of animals, about the lemurs in Madagascar: “The ears were large, flaring forward, the eyes limpid amber, in which the pupil floated like a glittering jewel, changing color with shifts of the light: obsidian, emerald, ruby, opal, amethyst, diamond.”
East Bay J
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Excellent. An allegory for environmental destruction, Ghost Of Chance is short and anything but sweet. We get a fairly well focused William with very little of the wild language and concepts I’m used to from Burroughs. It’s like he was a man on a mission. Hard to believe Burroughs passed away fourteen years ago.
Brian Price
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With Burroughs' drug-addled style, the narrative of this short novella is sometimes a bit hard to follow. However, the underlying message of man's ruin and species endangerment is an important one. At under 60 pages, this could be considered a short read; nevertheless, it requires your undivided attention.
May 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this brief revelatory ecological tract, Burroughs explains,
through a series of hallucinations, infestations and mutilations,
how the success of the Duke basketball program is predicated
on the university's dedication to the preservation of lemurs.
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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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“Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive.” 148 likes
“The ears were large, flaring forward, the eyes limpid amber, in which the pupil floated like a glittering jewel, changing color with shifts of the light:  obsidian, emerald, ruby, opal, amethyst, diamond.” 8 likes
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