An atypical, late, book by William S. Burroughs, The Cat inside contains fragments of autobiography. It was written between 1984 and 1986, when Burroughs was living in Ohio: its working materials can be found at Ohio State University in the SPEC.CMS.90 special collection, in Box 5 of the WSB98 set.
The book is quite a short one, presenting itself as a loosely chronological sequence of short chapters. The text will come as a surprise to readers of "The Naked Lunch" or of "Nova Express". It is not a hallucinatory text, most of it quite laid back and relaxed.
The illustrations were done by Bryon Gysin.
I would say that this is a book for the lover of cats; nonetheless, it is not gooey-sweet. Cats are presented as definitely non-human creatures, very practical and very focused. And essentially free.
Burroughs' cats do not smile.
I present here two fragments:
The white cat symbolizes the silvery moon prying into corners and cleansing the sky for the day to follow. The white cat is "the cleaner" or "the
animal that cleans itself," described by the Sanscrit word Margaras, which means "the hunter who follows the track; the investigator; the skip tracer." The white cat is the hunter and the killer, his path lighted by the silvery moon. All dark, hidden places and beings are revealed in that inexorably gentle light. You can't hide from your white cat because your white cat is you. You can't hide from your white cat because your white
cat hides with you.
To me the white cat is a messenger who summons me to confront the horror of thermonuclear devastation as seen from the pet shop at Dillon's, chasing my cats through a wrecked house with a gun. The vision filled me with desolation and an iron resolve to prevent this big-power outrage.
We need a miracle. Leave the details to Joe.... Joe places a cat box on the board room table. Gently he removes a white cat. The board members crawl under the table, screaming, "THE WHITE CAT! THE WHITE CAT!"