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Nova Express Paperback – January 21, 1994

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Nova Trilogy Series

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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 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

William S. Burroughs (1914 1997) was an American author, painter, and spoken-word performer who has had a wide-ranging influence on American culture. Jack Kerouac called him the greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift. Norman Mailer declared him the only American writer who may be conceivably possessed by genius. A postmodernist and a key figure of the beat generation, he focused his art on a relentless subversion of the moral, political, and economic conventions of modern American society, as reflected in his often darkly humorous and sardonic satire. He wrote eighteen novels and novellas, six short-story collections, and four collections of essays. No fewer than five books of his interviews and correspondence have been published. He also collaborated on projects and recordings with numerous performers and musicians and made many appearances in films. He was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983 and in the following year was appointed to the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.

Ramiz Monsef has spent several seasons as a member of Oregon Shakespeare Festival s Acting Company, and he is the playwright of OSF s 2013 production "The Unfortunates. "He has also appeared on stage in New York and in numerous regional productions. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


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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
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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The novel NOVA EXPRESS by William Burroughs carries a special kind of absurdity. The cut-up method works to find some deeper meaning in the societal virus known as 'language.' And it is quite virulent here. There are many times when I can hardly picture what he's illustrating. That being said, the moments when I can are just so brilliant, even the unreadable sections are instantly forgiven.

William Gibson (NEUROMANCER) once described Burroughs' writing skills akin to meeting the 'only person who can play steel guitar.' Even half a sentence by the writer can infect you with an urge to write his way, crack jokes his way, denounce freaky conspiracies his way, et cetera~

There was an interview when Burroughs described 'life' as a cup-up; The fragmentary sewing of hopping from one scene in everyday life to another. There are times here when I have to reread complete madness, and there is of course moments when he's simply building up a chapter, cementing the book's overall plot, and all that. But once you get smacked with one of his classic bone-chilling, gritty, anxious paragraphs, you'll be begging for something indecipherable. They hit hard, but you feel far wiser for reading them afterwards. I'd advise anyone who liked NAKED LUNCH to give NOVA EXPRESS a chance (or someone looking to completely derange their senses).
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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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