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"What scared you all into time? Into body? Into sh!t? I will tell you: "the word."
- William S. Burroughs, Nova Express
Writing about the Nova Trilogy is frustrating.
like reviewing Joyce's Finnegans Wake.
At 3:00, now 4, am it is hard to really, REALLY, get to the meat and idahosoftbones of it all. The books (all 3) are so damn knotty and naughty. Now, I'm not even REALLY comparing the Nova Trilogy to Finnegans Wake. No. They are two different beasts in scale, complexity, method, etc. I only bring them together, briefly, HERE to compare because, for me (reader), they hit me (reader) hard with their experimentalism and dark, almost ugly, UGLY, opacity. They aren't meant to be understood as much as they are intended to be experienced. They were both written to flickerclusterf#&% with the reader (me). Yes. Mission Accomplished.
One of the other difficulties with the "Nova Trilogy" is the VERY concept of these 3 books being an actual trilogy, or defining WHAT exactly the Nova3 was. The novels that are NOW generally considered to be part of the trilogy were writen in an order that is different than the order they were eventually published. Many of the novels in the Nova3 were REVISED and some revised again, so knowing what version of the cut-up novel is part of the Nova3 becomes, within the overall word horde, a bit dicey. Add to that--both The Wild Boys and Naked Lunch were considered at one poin to be part of Nova3 makes defining/containing things even more fragmented and confusing.
But please, don't let that daunt you. I'm not sure multiple versions of the novels, and the swirling versions of the trilogy were ever INTENDED to not confuse; Burroughs WAS ever and mutliple always breaking and rebuilding forms. He was cutting and re-cutting constantly. So, the idea of a living, breathing Nova3 is part of the whole word horde experiment. Go with it. Grab a version. Grab one of the 3. Hell grab one of the 5. Read it. Read another. Don't get too stuck on whether you are reading the "right" version, or reading the novels in the right order. Relax. Drink something. Smoke something. Pop something. Enjoy?
Of the three books that make up the currently accepted Nova3 (1. The Soft Machine, 2. The Ticket That Exploded, 3. Nova Express) Nova Express is the by far easiest to read, the least offensive, but also my least favorite. And NOT really because it was easist to read and stomach. Perhaps, I was just weary of the whole word horde world, or gassed out, or even a bit [gasp] bored. Nova Express just didn't bend me over like SM & TTTE both did. It was a soft landing, a walking last lap, a migraine bruise. But still, together, these three novels are hard to shake off. They are rash and a rush and infection and a cure, a nightmare and a VERY strange trip. They are, together, a literary cold sore that won't go away.
I'm done now.
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If you could sum up Nova Express: The Restored Text in three words, what would they be?
What is this book? an experimental Sci-fi? the disturbing murmurs of some who took too much? a post-modern dystopia? the book that first predicted the Internet? yes. yes. yes. and... Yes!