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Comment: This book has already been well loved by someone else and that love shows. It MIGHT have highlighting, underlining, be missing a dust jacket, or SLIGHT water damage, but over-all itâ?TMs still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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The Soft Machine Paperback – September 1, 1992


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

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (September 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780802133298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802133298
  • ASIN: 0802133290
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #553,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'"The Soft Machine" has its background in the underwater cities of Flash Gordon serials, broken-down towns in South America, faded photos and 1920s films in seedy movie houses. Essential reading.' Observer '[Burroughs'] great fictions [show] his superb, hard-edged satirical visions of cancerous and addictive consumerism; his elegiac and poetic invocations of sadness and dislocation; his enormous fertility of ideas and imagery.' Will Self, Guardian 'What Burroughs has tried to do, here as in other books, is to blend the reality of an addict's experience with his fantasies, and to create from this mixture a world compounded of myth and science fiction in which freedom and order are eternally opposed. Out of the dirt, the excrement, the couplings, Burroughs makes a disgusting, exciting poetry.' Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

William Burroughs was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1914. Immensely influential among the Beat writers of the 1950s -- notably Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg -- he already had an underground reputation before the appearance of his first important book, 'Naked Lunch'. William Burroughs died in 1997. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Clearly one of the most important books of the 20th century.
theresa haffner
I was looking for something that had a bit more meaning taken as a whole and The Soft Machine just isn't that kind of book.
T. F. Johnson
Burroughs'frequent references to orgasm via hanging, and orgasm in general, would be boring even if this was a good book.
William Donnelly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 1997
Format: Paperback
I've given this book a high acclaim, but to be honest it's difficult to come up with a rating. Easily 99.9% of the population will not be able to deal with this book, both for moral and comprehendable reasons. If you have read and enjoyed other Burrough's novels, you'll get a kick out of this one: lots of Nova Mob intrigue, some truly funny industry parodies, and lots of familiar faces (Kiki, et al). But if you've found Burroughs difficult, or if you're easily offended by graphic homosexual goings-on, you should steer far away from this one. My personal rating is not so much against other literature, but against other Burroughs. Stacked next to them, I feel this is a good one. Very fast paced, and usually on target. But pick it up only if you really dare
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By T. F. Johnson on August 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Soft Machine is Burroughs's definitive work of cut-up and experimental writing. Most of the elements of the book are taken from the same period of writing that produced his first success Naked Lunch and are in many ways a natural continuation of that work. Many familiar characters pop up in The Soft Machine and many of the same themes of homosexuality, drug addiction, death, murder and corruption appear throughout. That being said, The Soft Machine is in many ways different from Naked Lunch. The most apparent is the total abandonment of any semblance to a coherent storyline. I will call this the cut-up style in the macro approach. There is a micro side of it as well. In almost every sentence Burroughs applies the technique to combine words and phrases that at first glance have no apparent connection or meaning together. The result is an interesting, if a bit tiring form of literary art.

I started reading this book directly after I finished Naked Lunch and was a bit let down by it at first. I was looking for something that had a bit more meaning taken as a whole and The Soft Machine just isn't that kind of book. It was only after I realized this that I began to appreciate it for what it was: a conscious attempt to create a new literary form and actively use words to illustrate the patterns of society and life that we are too familiar and dependent upon. Addiction is a dominant theme in Burroughs's work and it normally manifests itself in the form of dope, but I think he uses his unique style to illuminate the other pervasive forms of addiction that he saw saturating society. Addiction is essentially concerned with control, the control of a substance over the actions and choices of an individual.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By The Pitiful Anonymous on December 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
"The Soft Machine"... the second excerpt from Burroughs' 1000 page manuscript of garbled chaos, written in Tangiers during a big, several year long heroin binge.

The origins of this writing are clear in the text... Burroughs' obsession with 'junk' is extreme, as is his fixation on orgiastic sex and sexually deviant practices. At least 50% of the book could be considered erotica if it weren't so intermingled with imagery of death and deformation that any aphrodisiac effect is squashed like a bug. This book is unparalleled in its obsessive obscenity, but there are visuals and concepts here that could not come from a sane mind, ideas that easily transcend into the realm of genius.

There is no plot, and unlike the preceding "Naked Lunch", the chapters can't even really be thought of as short stories. The incoherency factor is scaled up to the next level with the increased use of the "cut-up method". It is not a novel.

I think Burroughs was onto something with this idea, but that it makes "Soft Machine" a work that in the end is often little more than a nigh-random word salad, wherein any meaning taken really comes from the reader's mind. It will forever be a literary oddity, and many will find it absolutely impossible to read. Just as many will likely be turned away by its absolute depravity.

But there is something original and real in this book. Something beyond the normal world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Reverend on January 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
In The Soft Machine, Burroughs goes into a `fit' and forces his will on the reader. Your mind is filled with pictures of 1920's movies and dusty postcards.

I'll be honest with you; it was not an easy read for me. Early in the book I, for a second or two, pictured a disgruntled, rogue typesetter jumbling up the words and sentences in a way to get back at `the man' by confusing the hapless purchaser of the book. It twists and turns and comes back through the middle and it is intentional. But when you are finished, there are fragmented pictures forming a larger whole. I believe that this book is a brilliant Rorschach Test of Bill Burroughs' thoughts. I don't want to speak of plot or of what happens in the book for this reason. For me to do that would take away from your experience. I will, however, recommend that you read Burroughs' books, Junk(y), Queer, and The Naked Lunch (in that order) before attempting The Soft Machine.

If you fancy yourself a mental detective/masochist, read The Soft Machine first, Naked Lunch second, Queer third, and then Junk(y). The pieces will fall together for The Soft Machine and the torn asunder chunks of Burroughs' Rorschach puzzle will fall into a pile with the old movies and postcards stuck together with carbolic soap and rectal mucus.
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