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The Ticket That Exploded

(The Nova Trilogy #2)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  2,150 ratings  ·  101 reviews
Alternate version of this book.
Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Published 1968 by Grove Press - Evergreen Black Cat Edition (first published 1962)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scifi, 2017, american
Lust for life
I got a lust for life
I got a lust for life

- Iggy Pop, Lust for Life


Reviewing, cutting, looking slowly back at 1962 oorˌtekst, 1967 Endetext, fold, refold, oragami fold, cut, paste, recut, film and redact. So? Start again. From the bigbanging. - there are no good words- I wrote silences - review the story of two halves, two texts, living text, breathing review Here comes Johnny Yen again/With the liquor and drugs - 'Better than 'the real thing?' - there is no real thing - reviewing
Jun 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read this all the way through I can state confidently that I had absolutely no idea what was going on. And yet, at the same time, I sort of did. My understanding was somehow behind the story rather than in the story itself. The book seems to be about how the human visual imagination is really an invasion of alien messages, so the moment you 'see' something in your mind's eye you are actually submitting to outside control.

To combat this in a book, a text can't have a narrative that
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
But if you're reading this then you probably expect a challenge anyway. What it means. Smell of rancid tide flat--police drama strangely flickers in and out, much channels are playing. picture. The unnerving documentary on parasitic Machine, however this strangely analogous to Doctor. Imagine that without proper documentation. Channel-change static bursts to foil religious mind-control Now imagine what, and poisonous insects of the amazon--a sci-fi cable box. Doctor Benway less noticeably ...more
E. C. Koch
Maybe this goes without saying but William Burroughs' cut-up pieces are so aggressively anti-narrative that they're openly hostile to the reader. The reader has no purchase on the plot (what little plot there is) and, more than that, the plot has no purchase on itself. Because of the very cut-up process, no aspect of the novel can develop; rather, there are small stretches of comprehension padded by great stretches of experimentation. This makes for a work that takes a lot of work to read, which ...more
Oct 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The one William S. Burroughs book that causes the fan base to be afraid, really afraid. Burroughs at his most out there - those who have a fear of experimental writing - stay far away. This is a live bomb ticking slowly and it may explode in your hands! For those who are not afraid, this is really good. Burroughs at his most dry, and distain for the real square's world most intense work.
David Corvine
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This work needs to be approached as a piece of conceptual art or an occult manual... those seeking storytime may find it somewhat hard going.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Strange thing happened while reading. For the first time I felt genuine empathy for a book, not the words in the book but the actual tree the book was made of. Not that Burroughs is bad. He is innovative and funny and when he's in a good mood he moves his cut-up experiments toward poignancy. I will read more. But the significant enjoyment I got from this was outweighed by the perhaps false but nonetheless overwhelming impression that I was wasting my time.
Melancton Hawks
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you don't like the idea of reading paragraph after paragraph about catapulting streams of jism, then maybe this book is not for you. But the Ticket That Exploded is about so much more than torrential ejaculations... it's about melting your head right down to your shoulders. There is a kind of zen state that becomes necessary to read Burroughs sometimes, you have to really let the sickness flood over you and understand that it is not the author that is sick, but instead you, you with your fear ...more
Angus McKeogh
I’m not sure the restored text combined with the cut up method does a lot for anyone but the hardened scholar; but I did find this novel significantly more narrative driven than The Soft Machine. Perhaps I’m wrong but it does make the book more interesting. Found myself occasionally disappointed when the narrative would disappear into cut up because I was actually enjoying the story. But I think that’s part of the point of the whole technique.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, literature
Burroughs' 2nd cut-up novel (if I have the chronology right) & the beginining of what's, for me, his strongest period. After writing my quickie 'review' of "Naked Lunch" in wch I mentioned Balch's "Towers Open Fire", I moved onto this one & 'randomly' opened to page 110 to read:

""This way - To the Towers" - Ali pointed to an office building that dominated the square - Kiki ran toward the building covered now by tower fire - Hands pulled him into a doorway - On the roof of the building
Mel Bossa
Sep 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0006-lgbtq
I was going to do this whole review in Burroughs' cut up technique, but I'm too lazy. This was a tough read for me. I loved Junky, Queer, and of course, Naked Lunch, and maybe I expected something along those lines. The story seems to be about mind and body control through orgasms and splicing of tapes and I have to say Burroughs has a fucking dirty dirty dirty mind and I'm not sure what he was on at the time, but whatever the drug was, I'd congratulate his dealer. Good job.

I really liked the
Kirk Johnson
well that was disappointing. i love experimental fiction, but this is experimental fiction gone wrong. this is, by some arguments, burroughs' last cut-up method book, and it's where you realize he's come to believe all the crazy stuff he's been saying. usually this just results in a certain electricity in how it all comes out, but in this book he gets too literal and things stops feeling weird and starts feeling crazy and tedious, because he's detailing for you how you're gonna change the world ...more
I read this right after reading Bukowski, so I was a little apprehensive. I really didnt want another masturbatory ode to losers and the women they convice to take care of them.

I really liked this book. It was so stream-of-conciousness that after awhile it became a game to figure out any kind of story line underneath it all. (There is) It was actually quite disorienting: a straighforward paragraph, a paragragh or two disecting the first paragraphy, five or six paragraghs dissecting the previous
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What happens in this book? Why, the cock flipped out and up rectal musk of KY jelly slides the green fingers of the fish boy into autoerotic tape manipulation causes an overlay of the physical forms in St. Louis, joe. Less a story and more a set of junkie koans to meditate upon in your search for the transformative power of the Word. Because in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, twisted in Burrough's thin, gnarled fingers into a vicious demiurge plumbing the darkest desires and ...more
You have to be in the right (or wrong) frame of mind to read Burrough's classic 'cut up' technique of literature which is really just a series of disjointed paragraphs, little punctuation and pages of streams of consciousness. If you can get your head around all the word vomit, you'll find a strange, sci-fi ish storyline which is depraved, crazy, and utterly random with some downright bizarre characters. Like The Soft Machine it's a tough one to read, but there are some awesome choice quotes and ...more
Victor Barros
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hypnotizing. By the fact of Mr. Lee creating an entire universe for the purpose of presenting the cut up method not only to the reader but to the whole universe as a manual and as a combat manifesto against the powers that be. Utterly fascinating are also the step-by-step experiments of splicing tapes and breaking down the association patterns constructed over our entire time in this planet. Loved it. Are there any Brion Gysin or Ian Sommerville books out there? Gotta find out.
May 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical
A completely incomprehensible entry into the Burroughs bibliography, which is a shame because when it is coherent, it forms an interesting story in and of itself.
However, it is mostly just Burroughs cut-up insanity, total gibberish likely for the sake of being so. A marathon of tape recorders, semen, fish boys, ect... Would not recommend, personally.
Chris Campanioni
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Ticket That Exploded is Burroughs' best (and longest) book in his cut-up trilogy. It also is the most experimental and philosophical (if you are interested in the cut-up theory he adopted, this is the book for you). Moreover, it includes art and even writing by longtime friend and collaborator, Brion Gysin, who turned WSB on to the cut-up method. This is a must-read.
Aug 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My favorite of the cut-up novels (includes Wild Boys, Nova Express, The Soft Machine)...lyrical, loopy, confused, witty, as usual: funny as can be, and (perhaps?) an important contribution to the evolution of literary form.
Pyramids Ubiquitous
I cannot pinpoint an exact reason as to why I am so obsessed with Burrough's writing. I suppose because the authors I admire most are those who make me think about things that I've never encountered or even thought possible – I am very drawn to the unexpected. His endlessly quotable brand of unexpected prose is littered with logical pitfalls and it constantly pulls me back in. This is writing that is exclusively concerned with style, intent on sensory overload, and has no interest in providing ...more
Brian Park
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not all art is supposed to be pretty/ but some of the passages in this book are except (gross) but damn it's (bebop)
Apr 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Apr 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
-Another desperate cry from the cursed Burroughs- with desperation, he unloads a blight of his haunted visions- his many hells- upon us, the reader’s mind, in an attempt to meld us to his pathos… as though he could shed his terrors and now they are ours to keep…

-He creates a perverse world, galaxy, universe, where everyone- from the viruses to the newt-boys, both the prisoners and the guards ( in the G.O.D., Garden of Delights), from the humans to the aliens (especially those Venusian sex
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would file Burroughs into the “abstract literature” cabinet – maybe “experimental literature” is the more accepted name for this. This is where the prose becomes so elusive that the story (if fiction does tell a story – and I would say in all cases it is telling some sort of a story) becomes buried, blurred by “unreliable narrators” or drugs or temporal shifts or who knows what. My first introduction to this sort of literature was William Burroughs. Before I stumbled upon Naked Lunch the most ...more
Huge step down from The Soft Machine, which I'd easily consider to be a literary or even in a sense magickal masterpiece. The methodology here [rendering something much more narrative and less vital] seems fundamentally different from TSM [the latter being imo something like a prose equivalent to Vertov's MWaMC (1929), or perhaps Resnais' LYaM (1961)].

That said, there are still of course the usual Burroughsian concepts ["two parasites" (pg. 112)], amusing or occasionally interesting passages
Dane Cobain
This is one of William Burroughs' more experimental works, and that says a lot - he's not exactly a mainstream writer of literary fiction, more like a crazy old wordsmith who forged books by bashing words together.

The Ticket That Exploded is typically chaotic, with plenty of mentions of penises and rectums, and while I had no idea what was actually happening, with Burroughs you don't really need to. Besides, as the second book in Burroughs' 'Nova trilogy', it was written using the cut-up method
B. Jay
Feb 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book in the Nova series that makes even any sense at all, or at least has portions I found I could explain to others. This book is notable for a much heavier and intentional inclusion of actual science fiction (as opposed to things that were most likely simply drug-fueled delusions). Burroughs fascination with film splicing and the use of tape recorders also marks the era of his writing but opens a door on more of his prophetic visions of how technology would be used in the ...more
Ed Smiley
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-re-read, favorites
Deliberately disjointed, hallucinatory, wacky, disturbing and inventive. Burroughs employs a collage technique where different narratives are cut up and thrown together like a salad. I originally read it in the English edition, which differs from the American. Read long time ago.

This is definitely my favorite of the works of this talented madman. It may be his oddest. I was gratified to see this posting on RealityStudio (

Perhaps one of Burroughs’ least
Aaron Rogge
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Softly wavering between scattered cut ups and visceral marches through post-taboo imagery, The Ticket That Exploded is collage art, profane satire, and deep subconscious phantasmagoria wrapped into a swirling colony of bite sized insanity. There is absolutely no way to describe what the nova trilogy is to people that read mass-market novels or enjoy light reading. This is for closing ones eyes and reading, so to speak, removing one's self from pace and falling through the delusions of junk sick ...more
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you
Shelves: fiction
Up until I read McCarthy's The Road, this was King of the Hill for over a decade. The book Uncle Bill wrote right dead center at the transition between the raw cut up style of the Nova trilogy and the later books where he "attained mastery".
Bottom line-it's his best book. Burroughs will always be my favorite writer, there is no one comes close to his sheer artistic power, and no one can hold a candle to his deadpan cynicism that fluctuates between hate and love of all things human.
This is the
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W.S. Burroughs, a bearer of truth, a prophet. 2 9 Apr 04, 2015 09:21AM  

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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 ...more

Other books in the series

The Nova Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Soft Machine (The Nova Trilogy #1)
  • Nova Express (The Nova Trilogy, #3)
“The 'Other Half' is the word. The 'Other Half' is an organism. Word is an organism. The presence of the 'Other Half' is a separate organism attached to your nervous system on an air line of words can now be demonstrated experimentally. One of the most common 'hallucinations' of subject during sense withdrawal is the feeling of another body sprawled through the subject's body at an angle...yes quite an angle it is the 'Other Half' worked quite some years on a symbiotic basis. From symbiosis to parasitism is a short step. The word is now a virus. The flu virus may have once been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word.” 29 likes
“The word is now a virus. The flu virus may have once been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word.” 23 likes
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