New joint edition by Moloko Plus and Water Row Books:
Alan Ansen – A Burroughs Triptych
(Edited & introduced by Oliver Harris)
When William Burroughs mailed Alan Ansen a copy of Naked Lunch on its publication in 1959, he dedicated it to “one of the few who understood Naked Lunch before I did”, testifying to the unique role Ansen played from the start of Burroughs’s career as collaborator, promoter, critic, friend and author of three essays written across three decades. A Burroughs Triptych pieces together for the first time the backstory to Ansen’s three essays which were previously edited into a composite volume in 1986, in order to do justice to the special part Ansen played in making the Burroughs legend. As editor Oliver Harris observes in the introduction: “For all his insights into Burroughs, Ansen’s vision had the seductive quality of one who has been seduced, as in the alluringly enigmatic portrait that is worth the entrance fee alone: ‘A tall ectomorph – in Tangier the boys called him ‘El Hombre invisible’ – his persona constituted by a magic triad of fedora, glasses and raincoat rather than by a face, his first presence is that of a con-man down on his luck”.
Who was Alan Ansen? “There is a certain kind of ghost”, observes William Lee, the deadpan narrator of Burroughs’s debut novel Junky, “that can only materialize with the aid of a sheet or other piece of cloth to give it outline. Gains was like that. He materialized in someone else’s overcoat”. Alan Ansen is like that kind of ghost, haunting the margins of someone else’s biography and the footnotes of other writers’ literary histories. Read more & order →