Ali’s Smile

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[M&M A19]

Brighton, UK: Unicorn Books 1971, an edition of 99 numbered copies signed by Burroughs, hardbound without dust jacket, accompanied by a 12-inch vinyl recording of Burroughs reading a draft of the text. Maynard & Miles A19. It has always been difficult for collectors to find this title, and is probably the most sought-after of any Burroughs A-item even though subsequent publications were issued in more limited editions. Email correspondence with Richard Cupidi, publisher of Ali’s Smile at Unicorn Books, is revealing as he notes: “There were 99 copies of the book to be issued, but my then-partner left 20 or so LPs on a heater which warped the play out of them. So, some books were sold without the record, and the remaining couple of dozen unsold books were pulped. There were probably less than 50 full sets distributed including a number of which went to libraries.” The author has located some 29 copies of the Unicorn edition in libraries, but only two of which have the vinyl recording. This leaves less than fifty complete copies available on the open market, nearly all held by collectors. Scarce and rare indeed.

Bonn: Expanded Media Editions 1973, bilingual with text in both English and German, bound in stiff pictorial wraps. One of 100 copies signed by Burroughs and numbered with an ink stamp on the title page. Not listed in Maynard & Miles.

_____ One of 900 copies comprising the trade edition. Bound in blue pictorial wraps and text printed on ochre colored paper. Maynard & Miles D28.

_____ variant issue bound in blue pictorial wraps and text printed on white paper. Publisher Udo Breger says this was a second printing of probably 1,000 copies, though all copies are marked “First Printing.” Not listed in Maynard & Miles.

This bibliography of A-List publications by William S. Burroughs derives from Eric C. Shoaf’s Collecting William S. Burroughs in Print: A Checklist and is published online courtesy of the author, who retains all rights. Published by RealityStudio in April 2007.

3 thoughts on “Ali’s Smile

  1. It seems to me that the bilingual german edition of the first printing of Ali´s Smile (ochre paper) came out in Göttingen, not Bonn, October 1973, by Udo Bregers expanded media editions. I got one today from a Göttingen antiquarian. Why Bonn? My copy says “Göttingen”.

    Greetings from Germany
    Agis Sideras

  2. In reality I collect records and have read some Burroughs, Ginsberg Kerouac etc. About 10 years ago I was in a charity shop looking for that elusive record and found for 50 cents a copy of Ali’s smile on vinyl. A bit of research confirms that this is indeed a genuine copy of this recording. The label and signature on the record and cover appear to be Burroughs own writing. What I want to know,what is it worth and what direction do I take if I want to sell it?

  3. I designed and printed the first edition of Ali’s Smile in Brighton for Bill Butler. He and I visited Burroughs in the St James’ area of London for the signing. Sadly, though I have copies of other books that I printed for Bill, I no longer have a copy of Ali’s Smile.

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