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Ghost of Chance (High Risk Books) Paperback – 12 Sep 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 90 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (12 Sept. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852424575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852424572
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 0.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,073,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


?The man?s got something to say, so shut up and listen? Time Out ?Whether scorning the cult of the prophets or considering the nature of truth, his writing is by turns as dark as Conrad, as sexy as Genet, as complex as Derrida, but always uniquely his own? Attitude ?Ideal for the supercool, heavy-duty intellectual in your life? Elizabeth Young

About the Author

William S Burroughs is the grand-daddy of all cult writers. He is the author of Naked Lunch, Junky and many other novels. Short stories appear in High Risk 1 and The Junky's Christmas, both published by Serpent's Tail. He died in 1998. Ghost of Chance was first published by Serpent's Tail in hardback in 1997.

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By A Customer on 26 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
"Ghost of Chance" has a lot in common with "Cities of the Red Night" - probably Burroughs' best work - in that it further explores what might have been possible if the imperial/capitalist interests did not win out a couple of hundred years ago. As always, Burroughs is concerned with human potential and individual freedom. Here, though, he is explicitly concerned with political organisation and its consequences for us and for the rest of existence. Captain Mission and Libertatia (the reality of which maritime historians argue about- accounts are conflicting) are symbols of hope - though ones that never had much of a chance. The title is a pun and this is one of its meanings. The Madagascan colony is a "ghost" - a missed opportunity (for humans to live in a free but still organised manner) that didn't survive for the most trivial reasons (it didn't have time to get properly established and fortified before it was attacked). Things could have turned out very differently... The second meaning of the title refers to lemurs; "Lemur" is derived from the Latin "lemures" which means "ghosts". Human destruction/stupidity/greed is making ghosts out of every other species on the planet... bloodlust, the capitalist system and basic rottenness are ruining the earth. Burroughs lectures a bit in this novella but he has to; desperate times call for desperate measures. Read this book, wake up and get angry. Wise up the marks. Things have to change!
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Format: Paperback
A short novella, Ghost of Chance is on the surface the story of Captain Mission, a supposedly historical figure turned pirate, with a unique vision for a utopian society on the island of Madagascar. His colony, dubbed `Libertatia', has no capital punishment, no slavery, and no influence on religion or sexuality. The one, rather strange, commandment is that all inhabitants respect the native lemurs. From this unusual but relatively straightforward starting point, Burroughs quickly abandons his linear narrative to indulge in the addressing of some familiar concerns, namely paranoia, drug use and the irrevocable human stain. Embodied by "The Board", a mysterious and sinister group propagating the "Big Lie", the human race, with its Cartesian belief in the lack of an animal soul, threatens the safety of the settlement and the population of the ghost lemurs, to whom Mission has pledged protection.

Touching a variety of philosophical bases and delivering a broadside on the viral nature of Christianity, yet with some oddly over-wrought footnotes, Burroughs' lectures are all the more apt for their prescience in a time of global ecological uncertainty, and his own chaotic illustrations add an extra dimension of impending doom.

Challenging, yet evocative, Burroughs haunts the imagination.
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Format: Paperback
Ghost of Chance is the second book by Burroughs that I've read: the first was Naked Lunch, a book which rollercoastered my opinion while reading it -- at first it was amazing, then waffle, then genius etc... By the time I had finished though, I knew that it was going to be a book that would stay in my psyche for ages. The same is true of this book, Ghost Of Chance, and reading this I felt glad I was already aquainted with the Burroughs style.
It seems like a straight forward read (I knocked it off in a couple of hours) but the experience stays with you and haunts you: the language, the visions, the philosophy. Even the opening surface of the adventure story puzzles: is the afterword actual fact that fills in the holes, or yet another of Burroughs' fictions. Fascinating.
As well as the imponderables, there is also much to access straight-away: what he has to say about the environment and religious and political usury is excellent.
It all combines into what one reviewer calls a "moral brew." It's certainly a heady, strange brew if you want it to be, but because of the book's size it can also be a couple an afternoons indulgence and no more if that is what you want to.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ghost of chance is a short but fun adventure told in a way only Burroughs can. It echoes his other novel, 'cities of the red night'. While I still prefer the latter for it's richer prose and story, this one shouldn't be missed because of that. The artwork inside provided by Burroughs himself is a nice bonus.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa02057c8) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0214360) out of 5 stars Ecological anxiety in hallucinatory mode 6 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the first book by Burroughs I've read, and one I found quite disturbing. If this is one of his minor efforts, I just wonder what effect the most respected thomes in the Burroughs canon would have on me.
"Ghost of Chance" deals with extinction, both of animal species due to human stupidity and of man by exotic plagues. And that's just a simplified description. Burroughs adds commentary on Christianity, language as an evolutionary evil and man's stuborness in trying to capture time.
This was a quick read, taking me under an hour to finish. Yet, it resisted being easily grasped: Starting with the story of Captain Mission, a pirate settled in Madagascar and obsessed with preserving the native lemurs, moving then to the hipocrisy of Jesus Christ as Savior, and ending with plagues scarier (and more surreal) than ebola, the book packs into a small bottle a big punch. So big, in fact, that I wasn't able to describe my reaction to it clearly enough to write this review. (I hope I didn't babble too much here!)
Burroughs shows a wicked sense of humor, specially in the Notes at the end. And with imagery as wild and scary as a bad trip, this is a good introduction to one of the most discussed authors of the last half of our century.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa02147c8) out of 5 stars My only complaint is this is a very short and quick read (58 pages) but a good book and a great bargain as a used book 4 Dec. 2014
By chris - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another book from the master William S Burroughs. I was surprised to find this lost gem on Amazon as I have been a long time fan of all of William S Burroughs's work but had never seen or heard of this book. My only complaint is this is a very short and quick read (58 pages) but a good book and a great bargain as a used book. I only paid 1 cent plus shipping for my copy which was in great condition and is now sits proudly among my William S Burroughs library.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0214774) out of 5 stars If you pay attention, this book could change your life. 8 July 1999
By - Published on
Format: Hardcover
There is nothing more exhilirating than discovering an author who disgusts the established academic community and thrills them at the same time. Not to mention the rest of us. Granted, this is one of Burroughs' minor efforts, but that may only be said due to its length. I found the 50-odd page a book to be read in one hour, or ten years, depending on what you were looking for. With his usual genius, Burroughs lets you get out of his prose EXACTLY what you are willing to put into it. Read this one slow... it pays.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0214b10) out of 5 stars Great fun 30 Aug. 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is not a typical Burroughs novel (boiled down to a series of disconnected events) but a fairly straightforward ecological essay/allegory/adventure. Burroughs searingly denounces Christianity, language, civilization, then proceeds to destroy humanity by bringing back the extinct diseases which make Ebola look like a headache or a blister on your toe. Looks like he got his ideas by making cut-ups of "The Hot Zone."
And, of course, there's lemurs. If you are already a Burroughs fan, this is a great little book, but nothing more than one of his minor efforts. Sort of like the inflamed and pus-oozing appendix to Cities of the Red Night.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0214a80) out of 5 stars This is really good. 17 Jan. 2014
By Alex S - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's nothing bad about this book. Wherever it goes threadbare it makes up for it every time. Forces you to think more.
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