Title: The Adding Machine
Author: William Burroughs
Page Count/Review Word Count: 201
This should make for an interesting review, although it wasn’t a particularly interesting book – it was nowhere near as gripping as Burroughs’ fiction. Written over three decades, these essays cover everything from Burroughs’ thoughts on ‘creative reading‘ and the ‘technology of writing‘, to discussions about the writers who influenced his style, including Ernest Hemingway, Joseph Conrad and Samuel Beckett.
Burroughs doesn’t limit himself to the dead greats, though – he also writes about his relationships with fellow beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. It seems like all of the great beat writers wrote about each other, thus enhancing the careers and awareness of each participant. Many beat readers first read On The Road by Jack Kerouac, and it’s only after that they delve in to the work of Burroughs, Ginsberg, Synder et al.
Two last points to mention before I hit my word limit – first, there’s an interesting discrepancy in the title. UK editions are called ‘Collected Essays‘ and American editions are called ‘Selected Essays’. Secondly, the title itself is a reference to Burroughs’ grandfather’s famous invention – the adding machine.