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The journal of the last months of William Burroughs' life.
20 November 1996: `Well, it's time for my Ovaltine and a long good night.'
Burroughs died in 1997, after a lifetime of notoriety. The granddaddy of the Beats, druggy, dangerous and bleak, author of thirteen controversial, shocking novels.
In his final years, he was writing only in his journals. The last nine months of his diaries are here in `Last Words', and they form a complex, rarely seen, personal portrait of Burroughs at the end of his life, coming to terms with ageing and death. Although well into his eighties, the man we see is nevertheless the same old Burroughs, still riling against the Establishment, still contemptuous of the state of the human race, still shocking, bleak and very funny. The diaries are full of anecdotes and memories, entries on the joys of housekeeping, dealing with doctors, shooting a video with U2, musings on his beloved cats, drug-taking and government cover-ups.
These journals contain some of the most brutally personal prose Burroughs has ever written. The deaths of his friends, Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, provide a window onto the preparations he was making for his own death - a quest for absolution marked by a profound sense of guilt and loss.
William Burroughs was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1914. Immensely influential among the Beat writers of the 1950s - notably Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg - he already had an underground reputation before the appearance of his first important book, `Naked Lunch'. Originally published by the daring and influential Olympia Press (the original publishers of Henry Miller) in France in 1959, it aroused great controversy on publication and was not available in the US until 1962 and in the UK until 1964. The book was adapted for film by David Cronenberg in 1991. William Burroughs died in 1997.