First Editions of William S. Burroughs
As previewed last week, this is our selection of Burroughs first editions. All of these are the first appearances of the book in that form, though not necessarily of the content. Some of these books are recollected in other publications, and some are collections of earlier collections—for example, White Subway, a collection of magazine pieces, is re-collected in The Burroughs File, but we have first editions of both.
This initial picture shows some of the rarer firsts we have. In the middle is the first printing of the first edition of Naked Lunch, in the original, first-printing dustjacket This copy is in excellent condition, with very little bumping to the spine edges and only slight chipping on the dustjacket. It’s flanked by, on the left, a rare first edition of The Burroughs File, and on the right, by a true first, numbered edition of Early Routines (this one is from the unsigned, numbered printing).
At the bottom of this image are first editions of two collections of magazine pieces, Roosevelt after Inauguration and White Subway.
Here we have firsts of The Wild Boys and Port of Saints, with a first of Tornado Alley on the right (as issued without dustjacket). At bottom are firsts of Nova Express and The Soft Machine.
This trio has my favorite cover art of all the first editions (hey, I had to come up with some selection criteria…). This is the first US paperback edition of The Wild Boys, followed by the first editions of The Ticket that Exploded and Kentucky Ham.
Top and center here is Cities of the Red Night, flanked by the first UK (on the left) and first US (on the right) editions of Interzone. Finishing this set off are firsts of My Education, Burroughs’s dream journal, and Queer.
And last, here are first editions of The Adding Machine and The Last Words of Dutch Schultz.
As always, please contact us if you have any questions about condition or pricing. Our email address and phone number can be found at the bottom of the page.
Burroughing In Foreign Tongues
Before I get to the first editions I teased you with in the last post (Soon, very soon! Honest!), I wanted to write a post about our selection of Burroughs books in languages other than English. It’s a small but interesting collection.
At left, you’ll find several of Burroughs original writings in translation. The first two, at top, are the Swedish and and the Norwegian translations of Naked Lunch, Den Nakna Lunchen and Naken Lunsj, respectively.
In the middle are two German translations, Die Vier Apokalyptischen Reiter (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) and Die Elektronische Revolution (The Electronic Revolution). Interestingly, these two are actually “backed with” the English version. If you flipped them over vertically you would find the original English texts printed on the other side, like records or old pulp twofer books.
At bottom is L’ombre d’une chance, a French translation of Ghost of Chance.
While the German/English double-bill volumes are neat, my favorite of our non-English books is the next one, if for no other reason than I had to do a little more research to find out exactly what it is*. It’s called Apomorphine, published by what looks to be a very interesting small press from mid-century Paris called L’Herne, and contains French translations of several pieces first published in US little magazines. There is no English equivalent of this book, so Google and my very poor French had to duke it out, but I gathered, eventually, that it includes translations of “Apomorphine.” “The Day the Records Went Up,” “Coldspring News,” “The Conspiracy,” “Exterminator!,” “Parenthetically 7 Hertz,” and “Chappaqua, a Film by Conrad Rooks.”
Interestingly, the text of this book is printed in three, newspaper-style columns on each page, as you can see from the image on the right.
Our last two books are critical evaluations of Burroughs, both in French. The first, simply titled Burroughs, is by Gerard-Georges Lemaire. The second is William S. Burroughs: La vie et l’oeuvre, by Phillipe Mikriamos.
*Incidentally, searching around for information on Apomorphine led me to a fascinating post by Jed Birmingham at RealityStudio.org, a site for Burroughs collectors. Found here, it discusses (with impressive thoroughness and dedication) the interrelations between Burroughs’s drug use, writing activity, and desire to get clean and respectably published.
A Fistful of Burroughs Firsts
See. I told you we had all kinds of first editions. (Details coming soon!)
The Many Forms of Burroughs
Explorer of the other senses that he was, we’ll start the list of our Burroughsiana collection with Burroughs in some of his many other forms. You know Naked Lunch, you know The Wild Boys and Junkie, and we have all kinds of first editions or rare versions or pulp paperbacks that we’ll get to soon. But do you know Burroughs’s more colorful side? Or what he sounds like? Or how trippy his experimental films are? Or that he made films and records with a variety of collaborators?
How about that Burroughs used a shotgun to make art? This rare book, The Seven Deadly Sins, collects images and text made by Burroughs in the early ’90s. The foundation of most of the images are blocks of wood that Burroughs blasted with his signature 12-guage, then painted and silk-screened.
Another interesting item we have is You’re the Guy I Want to Share My Money With, a gate-fold double LP Burroughs made in collaboration with John Giorno and Laurie Anderson, with images by Jimmy De Sana and published by Giorno Poetry Systems (two names that you’ll see again in our future lists). Each of the first three sides has works by one of the collaborators, but this is the coolest part: the fourth side is multi-grooved, with three tracks running simultaneously. Which one plays depends upon which one the needle catches when you place it. (The LP version also features tracks not included in later CD reissues.)
Also pictured here: The Final Academy Documents, a collection of Burroughs’s experimental films plus some footage from a reading with John Giorno playing accompaniment at Factory Recrod’s Hacienda Club in Manchester; and Call Me Burroughs, a straight-up, no-frills collection of Burroughs reading from some of his most well-known works.
The Seven Deadly Sins
Paper Cloud/Thick Pages: Paintings by WSB
Call Me Burroughs (Audio Cassette Tape)
You’re the Guy I Want to Share My Money With (Collaboration between Burroughs, Laurie Anderson, and John Giorno) (Double LP Record)
William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers, by Klaus Maeck (VHS Tape)
Burroughs: The Movie; dir. By Howard Brookner (VHS Tape)
Destroy All Rational Thought (VHS Tape)
Thee Films: 1950s-1960s (VHS Tape)
The Final Academy Documents, Tape 1: 1962/3, Tape 2: 1982 (VHS Tape)
Burroughs Burroughs Burroughs!
And I don’t mean he digs holes. I mean we have lots of him.
Bibliohead recently acquired a large collection of William S. Burroughs material (Burroughsiana?) from someone who was, to put it mildly, obsessed (a Bourroughphile?). Over the next few weeks, we’ll be cataloging that collection and posting occasional blurbs about obscure, rare, or just plain neat items from it. This collection has everything from first editions to critical surveys to video tapes to early magazine appearances to translations, from a collected letters to Allen Ginsberg to video from the archives of Genesis P-Orridge’s Psychic Television. If you’re looking for something Burroughs-related, we’re a great place to start your search.
To whet your appetite, here’s a preview of our Case of All Things Burroughs:
And don’t be scared off by scarcity. There are things in this case for every price range, from first-timers to true junkies.
Have questions about something you see? Looking for something you don’t? Feel free to contact us for more info (all of our contact info can be found at the bottom of this page), or just click the “Ask Me!” link at the top of this page!