William Burroughs closed his classic debut novel, Junky, by saying he had determined to search out a drug he called 'Yage' which he believed transmitted telepathic powers, a drug that could be 'the final fix'. In The Yage Letters - a mix of travel writing, satire, psychedelia and epistolary novel - he journeys through South America, writing to his friend Allen Ginsberg about his experiments with the strange drug, using it to travel through time and space, to derange his senses - the perfect drug for the author of the wild decentred books that followed. Years later, Ginsberg writes back as he follows in Burroughs' footsteps, and the drug worse and more profound than he had imagined.
A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two "letters," written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as "sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle...all presented in searing, brilliant prose," The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of our literature.
Beginning as surprisingly formal notes from the road to his friends Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the letters gradually deepen in substance and style. Burroughs's letters show the development of both the man and the writer, vividly documenting his (often turbulent) personal and cultural history. The collection provides a key to opening up and contextualizing Burroughs's fiction, but more than that it shows how letter-writing was itself integral to his life and creative process.