8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Soft Machine (Paperback)
I finished reading this yesterday and I was moved to write a review because the current two hardly do the book justice.
To me the book was dazzling, shocking, mind-bending and richly poetic. However, it is important to understand just a little about the cut-up technique that Burroughs used to construct this piece of work. The Soft Machine is a collage of previously written texts, in which sentence and narrative are deliberately fragmented then spliced together so that disparate images, concepts and characters are forced into juxtaposition. The results are startling, humourous and at times, nightmarish. In this method, conventional grammar and syntax fly out the window but a certain kind of poetry emerges, which could not be achieved by other means.
If you are not familiar with Burroughs' work, this might not be the best place to start, instead a novel like Junky might be a better place to begin. The Soft Machine contains all the classic Burroughs motifs: aliens, mutant insects, jaded detectives, dystopian worlds, unsavoury medical procedures and a LOT of graphic sex, most, if not all of it between men.
Without a doubt, this is not a book for everyone. When you bear in mind that W.B. set out, deliberately, at a young age, to "s*** out" what he saw as the mental and social bonds imposed on him by his middle class upbringing, this book, like everything else he wrote, can be seen as part of that process. Some people will find that an interesting concept, others will not. Reading the Soft Machine is a little like watching a screen onto which thousands of images are projected in rapid succession. Many of these images are horrific, repulsive, many are poignant, erotic or simply beautiful. It their glorious collision that makes the book such a rich and visceral experience.