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The Job - Interviews with William S. Burroughs

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,000 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The Job is William S. Burroughs at work, attacking our traditional values, condemning what he calls "the American nightmare," and expressing his often barbed views on Scientology, the police, orgone therapy, history, women, writing, poitics, sex, drugs, and death. His conversation splices images of death-by-hanging with elevators and airports, the story of his drug ...more
Hardcover, 189 pages
Published 1970 by Grove Press (first published 1969)
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Matthew J.
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a lot of very cool images and ideas in this mix of interview questions and excerpts from essays and books. Unfortunately, there are also places where Burroughs descends into his own brand of self-congratulatory nonsense or just straight-up nonsense. His sometimes unsettling prescience about things like internet memes (word-image viruses) and drug laws is mixed with his overly credulous views on Scientology and other pseudo-science/pseudo-religious stuff. There are times when the book ...more
This is, for me, the peak of Burroughs' articulation of his philosophy. All of the incredible ideas that he'd put into his novels that may've seemed a bit unclear b/c of the fantasticness of their presentation are presented here in a straight discursive form. Here's a sample of some classic Burroughs from page 75:

"Q: Any comments on the assassination of Robert Kennedy?

"A: It seems likely that the assassination was arranged by the far right, and that the arrangers are now taking this
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Acá Burroughs cede a la tentación de dar su propia versión de la literatura de la segunda persona. No toma la forma de la autoayuda - su variante dominante hoy día - sino otra que estaba en boga por entonces, el manual de estrategias contraculturales. Como una especie de Roger Trinquier al revés, Burroughs asume La tarea de despolicializar la vida psíquica mediante una serie de ejercicios, que incluyen en muchos casos a los grabadores. ¿Grabadores? Los grabadores vendrían a ser para él algo así ...more
Apr 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: interviews
For those who might not know, William S. Burroughs was associated with members of the original Beat Generation (he co-wrote a novel with Jack Kerouac and lived for a time with Allen Ginsberg). His best-known work is Naked Lunch, and in general his fiction is dystopic—sort of like J.G. Ballard, but with a lot more gangsters and cowboys. And heroin. And auto-erotic asphyxiation.

The Job reprints several interviews William S. Burroughs had with Daniel Odier in the late sixties. The questions and
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been a long and close companion to me. Such brilliance articulated with such dry wit. This collection of interviews delivers the fundamental philosophy which powers WSB's fiction work. This should be required reading in high schools.
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely important book that should be taught to high school students.
Burroughs certainly did have some crackpot ideas such as his advocation of disintegrating the family unit as he believes it to be redundant. On the other hand, his knowledge of drugs is incredible and could do much good in a world in which drugs are vastly misunderstood.
His ideas on how cut-ups of the word and film can be applied in various ways are intriguing and seem to offer some promising possibilities on how to fight
Rex Hurst
The book begins with the sort piece “Playback from Eden to Watergate”, originally published by Harpers in 1973. In it he describes the concept of the word virus. As per Genesis, the word came first. Burroughs interprets this as the written word which infested man and evolved into perfect symbiosis with him, manifesting as human speech. He goes on into his playback reality manipulation method involving three tape recorders and/or a camera (this was written in the early 70s remember, cutting edge ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Más que entrevistas al estar retocadas por el mismo Burroughs resultan en monólogos a veces premonitorios, anticuados o demasiado limado lo cual amena una lectura que por momentos es depresiva por el mensaje de que el ideal de sociedad justa es una utopía. Por partes también juega con su literatura experimental y se suceden imágenes, descripciones crudas en oraciones de pocas palabras hasta cayendo en incongruencias. Lo extraño es que hay varias frases que repite textuales en distintas partes ...more
Jan 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-i-own
Very interesting and highly recommended. The format is interesting. He uses questions posed by an "interviewer" as a platform to discuss most everything - Scientology, cut ups, language, media, and other odd ramblings. Very interesting.

A few years ago, I made art from cutting up cardboard refuse and making collages, mostly abstract, from the refuse. Having not ever read Burroughs before, I found his theories on cut-up technique very interesting. His description of the "dreamachine" inspired me
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd read Naked Lunch, twice, as my introduction into Burroughs, which is like viewing Jackson Pollock or Jasper Johns as an introduction into paint. To say the least, I'd been discouraged by this, after both reads. Now that I've read "The Job" I understand Burroughs on a level I wish I'd always known. He is a prophet, and a visionary madman. I'm glad. Excellent read.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It offers a fairly deep insight in Burroughs' mind, even though he sometimes gave me the feeling he wasn't totally serious. Also sheds a new light on some of his work I read (before and after). He pretty much gives us a clearer perspective on the often incredible and outrageous ideas he put in his novels.
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the first work of nonfiction that meant a lot to me. Burroughs's wild fiction and collections of sentences like Soft Machine got me started, but his ideas put forth in interviews did so much more for me. This is what made me into a serious person, curious about the world and the possible.
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interview format interspersed with stream of consciousness passages,mainly concerned with thought control through the word virus acting on the reactive mind perpetuating an unworkable establishment.Both readable and highly informative.
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Money is shit.
Niles Hunter
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me the best Burroughs books are his collected interviews. This book was designed, possibly, to some degree, to focus on control systems, and the responses needed to battle them. The interviews were conducted by Daniel Odier (also known by his pen name Delacorta, most famously known as the author of Diva) during the serious political climate years of 69, and 70. There was obviously some discussion between the two authors on what the book would concentrate on, and it's intent, (almost a manuel ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Burroughs was always weird, but he was somewhat intelligible in this book which is part interview and part short stories. He clamied to be sober and drug free during the interview but still was prbably the stangest old dude around in 1973 when it was written. The topics cover drugs and the pupose of the war on drugs which he saw as being population control, the ideas of L. Ron Hubbard and Wilhelm Reich, his thoughts on nation and family, his desire to return to hieroglyphic based language, and ...more
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm only part way into the final section "Academy 23," and I feel that this collection is dodgy in parts. In terms of consolidating the essence of Burroughs' thought, I don't think this book does a good job at it. Not only this, but his misogyny and outlandish conspiracy theories are in full force makes the reading even more of a slog for me. The "look for the vested interests" argument I feel has limited applicability at best and is not a general analytical description of how power operates.
Taylor Ellwood
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, magic
The Job is a series of interviews done with William S. Burroughs. It's funny, prescient, full of ideas, and at time wanders all over the place. It's a book which speaks to the power of words and how to resist that power or use it. The insights of life observed are as relevant now as when the book was written.
Vincent Konrad
It’s Burroughs. I still love the way he writes but this is more about his wild ideas than straight fiction and one can only read so much about Scientology and women being another species before it gets a bit tedious.
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of Burroughs more accessible books because he is more or less explicit about his approach, his influences, and goals. All of what he says has to be taken with salt but clearly there is a brilliant and critical mind at work.
Kevin K
Low-grade Burroughs bloviating on his favorite crank topics: the wonders of Scientology and Reich's orgone accumulator, the apomorphine miracle cure for drug addiction, eliminating the family as the first step to utopia, women as a subhuman mistake (eliminating them, if possible, through asexual cloning), taking down the establishment using 1960s-vintage tape recorder and slide projector technology. I love Naked Lunch; it's one of my all-time favorite books. But Burroughs was definitely an ...more
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If counter-culture types applied as much skepticism and critical analysis to their own ideas as they do towards anything arising from The Establishment, they would be a lot more interesting.

Instead, you get bores like Burroughs, who lectures confidently on subjects he knows nothing about (lasers! used to push people into oncoming laundry trucks! and to transmit thought!) and who has fallen for every crackpot theory from the 50s and 60s. Scientology? Check. Wilhelm Reich? Check. The Mayans?
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
some notes, mostly for my own sake:

- what a weird concept for a writer... rimbaud's "derangement of the senses" as pragmatic and political, not aesthetic; language as suffocating, as something we should evolve past.
- cut-ups and hallucinogens reveal the empty space between symbol and meaning, which is pregnant the way a pause can be pregnant.
- there seems to be no poetry in the heiroglyphic/pictoral substitute burroughs suggests, unless it is in the construction of intricate descriptive
Sean McLachlan
As a Burroughs fan, I was looking forward to reading a book about his writing techniques. Unfortunately that isn't what this book is. While you do get some information about his cutup method and other ideas on writing, most of the book is about the man's philosophy. Special focus is given to the idea of words as a virus, along with some rather overly enthusiastic ideas of using the cutup method in tape recordings for mind control. There are also passages on addiction, government control, ...more
Burroughs was the first writer who's ideas truly excited and stimulated me. Naked Lunch was my unlikely platform from which i dove eventually deeper and deeper into Literature with a capital L. Is Burroughs' a writer of Literature with a captital L? It's hard to tell. His work, especially Naked Lunch, is a strange amalgam of Joyce, De Sade and Rabalais, the stream of consciousness drug hallucinations of a sadistic humorist. And whilst Naked Lunch is and will remain a classic work of 20th Century ...more
Feb 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After years of checking out a page here and there in bookstores....i finally got my hands on this for a proper cover to cover intake...the famous cut-up method is explained in great detail here...Not so much the Gysin method with random written cut-ups, but audio cut-ups using three or more tape recorders...WB gets into it it for the majority of this book...Totally brilliant and relevant now...Really the only thing different from this book being just as relevant today is the level of optimism ...more
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beats
In these late 1960s interviews with Daniel Odier, Burroughs expands on his personal philosophies regarding language, drugs, and systems of control - topics to which he frequently alludes in his novels. Concepts from Scientology are discussed several times. (I learned as a result of reading this book that Burroughs took Scientology courses during the 60s.) Most of this I found to be engrossing reading, although in the last chapter there are extensive bits about experiments involving tape ...more
oh carlyn what key
interviews with burroughs that i found very educational and will continue to use as reference. granted he's a raging mysogonist, but so many of burroughs' ideas and philosophies are so spot-on that i can't help but love the bastard. there is a short story (can't remember the title) in this volume in which a guy is referring to the mistress of the manor, stating: "She expects me to go down in the ground and grow there myself." in context and out, it's a new favorite sentence.
Oct 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book length Q&A session with one of the great literary cranks. It's all here, his obsession with guns, drugs, govt. institutions, and his love for sci-fi pulp literature. Oh and the French author/editor of this conversation is the guy who wrote DIVA.
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
drugs are bad mmkay
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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
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