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Nova Express Paperback – January 21, 1994

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Nova Express + The Ticket That Exploded (Burroughs, William S.) + The Soft Machine
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (January 21, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802133304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802133304
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A sermon blast of language. . . . Burroughs is the Martin Luther of hipsterism, welding his decree on the silicon doors of the solar system.”—Newsweek

“Hypnotic . . . outrageous. [Burroughs] can think of the wildest parodies of erotic exuberance and invent the weirdest places for demonstrating them.” —Harper’s

“Burroughs is first and foremost a poet. His attunement to contemporary language is probably unequalled in American writing. Anyone with a feeling for English phrase at its most balanced, concise, and arresting, cannot fail to see this excellence.”—Terry Southern

“Burroughs writes with a beauty and efficiency unmatched by any living writer.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“Macabre, funny, reverberant, grotesque.”—The New York Review of Books
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

William S. Burroughs was born on February 5, 1914 in St Louis. In work and in life Burroughs expressed a lifelong subversion of the morality, politics and economics of modern America. To escape those conditions, and in particular his treatment as a homosexual and a drug-user, Burroughs left the United States in 1950, and lived in Mexico City, Tangier, Paris and London. By the time of his death he was widely recognised as one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the twentieth century. His numerous books include Naked Lunch, Junky, and Queer. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy P. Bushnell on June 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Oh, this book is superb; thrilling. Burroughs' critique of media/information culture has never been more relevant (he even predicts, in 1964, the emergence of something that sounds very much like the Web - "more and more images in less space pounded down under the sex acts and torture ever took place anywhere"). Great chunks of the book function practically as a Machiavellian instruction manual on how those in power might use a stream of words and images to generate fear, passivity, and conflict in a human population.
Some of Burroughs' incisiveness may derive from his usage of the famous cut-up and fold-in techniques (using passages plagiarized / "sampled" from other texts, including psychology journals, newspapers, pulp science fiction and true crime texts, and literary sources like T. S. Eliot and Rimbaud) - when he uses these, he gets at a radical (if illogical) analysis of the source texts. The illogical / nonlinear structure that results might throw some, but to my mind, this fits in perfectly with the book's overall critique - if you believe that certain forms of language (and thought) are politically corrupted, as Burroughs does, then the answer may be to compose a text that exists outside of those structures. The result feels vital and exciting - it is practically a new way of thinking on the page - and Burroughs' ideas on how to resist and defeat "the machine" and the nova process are similarly thought-provoking and unexpected (they bring to light a spiritual (monastic) side of Burroughs that I hadn't been previously familiar with).
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on May 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book cover to cover when I was 17, something I felt to be an accomplishment. There's a narrative (sometimes) and striking, vivid language that you won't find anywhere else, but at times the fold-in method of writing, a technique designed to subvert the rational process of thought, yields paragraphs that are not merely irrational but garbled. They're just clumps of words pasted together at random (as far as I can tell). This is not a novel in any sense of the term, nor it is a story, but there are themes and images that perhaps could not be conveyed in a conventional framework.
Nova Express was extremely influential for me and has stayed with me for the last 30 years. I don't pretend to understand everything that Burroughs was trying to accomplish with this kind of writing, but if affected me in ways that are hard to explain.
If you are interested in experimental writing, surrealism, or non-linear narrative, you may want to give Burroughs a try. However if you're looking for a good, comfortable read, this isn't the place to get it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "jdubach" on June 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
This installation into the Nova series helps establish the reality of Interzone, first introduced in Naked Lunch. The Nova Police are the only thing keeping the Nova gangsters from harboring the monopoly on the universe's only source for Apomorphine. Burroughs appears in the novel as Agent Lee, the primary factor for the Nova Police. From incidious mass-poisonings to wild goose-chases across Interzone, Nova Express is an essential bridge between Naked Lunch and The Soft Machine. In my mind, one cant/shouldn't read either of the other two without having read Nova Express as well.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By S. R Robertson on January 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I won't be as vivid and descriptive as an eel in hot pursuit over gravy, er, I won't be as evil and malignant as Cortez babies, er, want I....EGAD! Start over...
I won't be as descriptive and detailed (there we go) on this review as on THE Wild Boys. This too is a good book, but my least favorite of my collection. It also seems to be the shortest, and less memorable. Parts of it seem to be more preachy than other releases, opening with Agent Lee talking about how the mass media is controlled by psuedo-punk poseurs addicted to controlling the brainwashed populace. From what I remember, Burroughs seems to make fun of these individuals (who have such elaborate names as Jimmy The Butcher, Jackie Blue Note, etc.) who are portrayed as racist punks fooling everyone with actually being the enemy of true revolutionaries. The plans they hatch up to keep the world controlled are amusing.
Aside from this most coherent of writing, the rest is pure Burroughs insanity...classics include the section "Twilight's Last Gleeming", in which a ship is going down and all hell is breaking loose (the immortal line quoted above is said by the drag-wearing captain of that ship). This may come as a shock, but some of the sections actuall bored me...mainly the more scientific information packed parts like the relationship between parasites and hosts, other easily forgettable things. But look past this, and Burroughs knows what he's talking about.
As before, there are some downright beauties and truths around...this may have been from one of the other books since they all seem to flow together as a whole, but I remember a story about a house shifting over a dsert plain and the tenants trying to socialize with lonely lemurs hanging in a tree. There's a great peice of poetry existing right around there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
Society, consciousness, language--Religion, time space--Nova Express takes us for a ride through the very roots of these imposed structures.  For a more detailed description of what this book is all about I'll simply refer you here:
But be warned, this book is not a casual read, I found this book very difficult to penetrate.  One of the things I had to learn was to focus all my attention, and I mean ever scrap of mental energy, because there's no way of getting anything out of the book otherwise.  And then there's the slight matter of exterminating self imposed rational constraints.  But once I did this Nova Express was like stepping through Blake's doors of perception.   
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