BURROUGHS, William. Dead Fingers Talk.
(London): John Calder in association with Olympia Press, 1963. First Edition. Octavo. There was no US edition. The volume book combines sections from Burroughs' earlier novels, Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded, that were edited in an attempt to create a new narrative. The edition was issued by Calder as a 'Burroughs Reader' to prepare and introduce the British public to the shocking nature of Naked Lunch which had yet to be published in Great Britain. The book capitalized on the recent international fame of Burroughs generated by the 1962 International Writers Conference held in Edinburgh. Dead Fingers Talk, like many of Burroughs' works, was controversial upon its release. It was the subject of a scathing review in the Times Literary Supplement that resulted in a war of words between supporters and detractors of the novel (and Burroughs in general) that played out in the magazine's letters page for months. The book generated just the right kind of controversy, for John Calder to issue Naked Lunch ,in 1964, the novel which began to redefine the boundaries of literary art. (In 1982, Calder reissued Naked Lunch with all 56 pages of the Times Literary Supplement Correspondence). This copy is inscribed by the author in blue ink on the title page “For Alex Trocchi / good friend and / good showman / dead fingers talk / invisible insurrection / William Burroughs”. Burroughs and Trocchi act as paradigms for the life of junk, both inside and outside of their texts. Both were homosexuals and both were long-term heroin addicts. They first encountered each other on an aeroplane flying them to the Edinburgh Writers‟ Conference in 1962. Burroughs acknowledges his respect for Trocchi, and the animosity that they received in Edinburgh, as follows : “Id read Cain’s Book , which was one of the early books about heroin addiction, and so we had a lot in common … He was a sort of ally at the conference which turned into an extraordinary stand-off between the old guard and the young turks, (Mailer, Burroughs, Trocchi) with Hugh MacDiarmid infamously denouncing Alexander Trocchi as “cosmopolitan scum”. After the conference, Burroughs and Trocchi hooked up to get stoned in London, they in fact stayed with Trocchi's doctor. who filled his heroin prescriptions. Burroughs revered Trocchi‟s skill with the hypodermic syringe. He wrote, “when I met [Alex] in London, he used to help me shoot up … my veins were gone in my arms. Old Alex could find a vein in a mummy.” And therein lies an intimacy seldom found between two writers. A near fine copy in a very good, lightly rubbed, dust jacket, with a few small nicks. A remarkable association copy between two of drug literatures greatest laureates.
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