Jacques Stern

An Archive of Materials by and about Jacques Stern

Including the Complete Text of The Fluke

In the summer of 1959, with Olympia Press about to publish the first edition of Naked Lunch in Paris, William Burroughs was raving about the work of another writer. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso — they all paled, Burroughs declared, in comparison with an unknown who was possibly “the greatest writer of our time.” He was rich and eccentric, this newcomer. He was a cripple and a junky. He was capable of great generosity and abusive tantrums. He could be unnervingly eloquent and equally incomprehensible. Burroughs took to calling him “the mad baron.”

His name was Jacques Stern. Corso introduced him to Burroughs at the Beat Hotel, and he went on to become legend among an international group of cognoscenti. But what became of Stern and The Fluke, the novel that elicited such praise from Burroughs? Why did this book never see light of day? (Or did it?)

Drawing on more than a year of research that includes personal interviews and unpublished material from the Burroughs archive at the New York Public Library, RealityStudio attempts to answer these and other questions about Jacques Stern. RealityStudio is especially pleased to announce that it is making available, for the first time ever, the complete text of The Fluke, along with William Burroughs’ introduction. In addition, RealityStudio is publishing other exclusive material by and about “the mad baron.”

The Fluke

Text and Audio by and about Jacques Stern


Special thanks to James Grauerholz, Dr Joseph Gross, Stewart Meyer, Mark Meyer, Oliver Harris, Jan Herman, Carl Weissner, Victor Bockris, Malcolm Mc Neill, Allan Bradbury, and Jed Birmingham.


William Burroughs’ introduction to The Fluke: © 1965 by the Estate of William S. Burroughs, used with the permission of The Wylie Agency.

Scans of William Burroughs’ manuscript introduction to The Fluke: Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

Stewart Meyer’s Memory Chips: Excerpt provided by the author, © 2011 by Stewart Meyer.

Audio of Jacques Stern and William Burroughs reading cut-ups in Paris: © 1961, 1966 by the Estate of William S. Burroughs, used with the permission of The Wylie Agency. Recorded by Sean Sweeney for the Poetry Room in Paris on May 24, 1962. MP3s provided by the Woodberry Poetry Room, Houghton Library, Harvard University. These three mp3s are excerpted from an hour-long reading that includes nine total tracks.

Jacques Stern in Conversation with Stewart Meyer: Excerpted from a longer recorded provided by Stewart Meyer. © 2011 by Stewart Meyer.

Published by RealityStudio on 4 April 2011.

7 thoughts on “Jacques Stern

  1. What a treasure trove! i’ve been searching for jacques stern’s work and stories for years. the bits in literary outlaw i figured would be all i’d ever find. the man was such a mystery. my hat is off to reality studio once again for delivering the goods. i’ll savor each one of these pieces. many thanks, and thanks to the others who helped to compile these rare & fascinating documents.

  2. Outstanding work!

    Johnny’s term – treasure trove – describes it best!

    Thank you to Reality Studio and all involved with the presentation of this marvellous material!

  3. never thought I’d find out anything more regarding the mysterious Stern and now this. Very considerate of you guys to post this stuff. And to think that he was in NYC all that time. Thanks for this.

  4. I became involved in Jacques Stern’s life inadvertently in NYC in the 1970s. He was a supreme category of monster; so unique a corrupter of people as to be unparalleled in this distinction. There he reigned in his suite of rooms, barren of furniture, ensconced in his satin, gold-sheeted bed, surrounded by the litter of used syringes. By turns taciturn and explosive, the life he lived was one of self-willed aberration. His “marginalization ” in the historical record of the Beats is a legacy earned.

  5. I knew Jacques Stern in Spain ’69…quite a character. He used to come into the smugglers saloon with his spanish wife who’d shoot ’em up with morphine every once in awhile.

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