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My Education: A Book of Dreams
     

My Education: A Book of Dreams

by William S. Burroughs
 

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My Education is William S. Burroughs's final collection, first published two years before his death in 1997. It is a book of dreams, written over several decades and as personal and close to a memoir as we will see. The dreams cover themes from the mundane and ordinary -- conversations with his friends Allen Ginsberg or Ian Sommerville, feeding his cats,

Overview

My Education is William S. Burroughs's final collection, first published two years before his death in 1997. It is a book of dreams, written over several decades and as personal and close to a memoir as we will see. The dreams cover themes from the mundane and ordinary -- conversations with his friends Allen Ginsberg or Ian Sommerville, feeding his cats, procuring drugs or sex -- to the erotic, bizarre, and visionary. Always a rich source of imagery in Burroughs's own fiction, in this book, dreams become a direct and powerful force in themselves.

"Mr. Burroughs has lost none of his irreverence or wit, but in recent years he has acquired an elegant, elegiac tone." – The New York Times

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The noted Burroughs himself is the central character of his first novel in seven years, revisiting the site of hundreds of his dreams, a landscape ``where I get my best sets and characters.'' Numerous family members, friends and celebrities from the author's past appear-Mick Jagger, L. Ron Hubbard, Paul Bowles, Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac-and locales vary wildly, from Manhattan to Panama, ancient Rome to the planet Venus. Several types of dreams recur: ``flying'' dreams, ``packaging'' dreams, ``breakfast dreams'' about ``difficulty in obtaining any sort of food.'' Images, too, recur-cats, pale young men, aliens, various doctors-though Burroughs fails to infuse them with any metaphorical meaning, thus bequeathing a tediousness to his terrain. Several graphic scenes, however, haunt this plotless book, such as one in which a man's face is bloodied by a broken bottle. Those familiar with the Burroughs canon will notice that the author's disjointed prose remains, but the satire has been replaced by a more plaintive voice. The strength of this memoir-like story comes from its 72-year-old narrator's struggles with grief, having outlived many of the people and events he so vividly recalls. ``Remembering,'' says Burroughs, ``brings the emptiness, the acutely painful awareness of irreparable loss.'' (Jan.)
Library Journal
Similar in format to Jack Kerouac's Book of Dreams (1961), Burroughs's latest offering is a simple dream diary, interspersed with brief interpretive comments and presented in clear, accessible prose. Most of the dreams involve visits to the Land of the Dead, where nearly all of Burroughs's friends and enemies have long since vanished. Kerouac, Brion Gysin, Jean Genet, and hostile critic Anatole Broyard make frequent appearances, along with the author's parents; his wife, Joan; and his son, Billy. Burroughs himself has mellowed considerably. He avoids sex, deplores thievery, rails against gun fanatics, and shares his home with several pampered cats. Because the author's best work incorporates nightmares and hallucinations, his dream record is of genuine literary interest. However, readers unschooled in Beat lore will struggle with cryptic allusions to obscure people and events. This important work for fans will likely win few new converts. Recommended for larger fiction collections.-Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Booknews
Dreams have always been a rich source of imagery in Burroughs' writing and this book is built around hundreds of his dreams--some short and cryptic, some long and complex. Burroughs combines the dreams with his thoughts on art, creativity, and the nature of consciousness. There is a ripe, meditative quality to the writing, especially in the sections that read more as memoir. It may be as close to autobiography as we will see. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140094541
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/28/1996
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
216
Sales rank:
1,312,689
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.58(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)—guru of the Beat Generation, controversial éminence grise of the international avant-garde, dark prophet, and blackest of black humor satirists—had a range of influence rivaled by few post-World War II writers. His many books include Naked Lunch, Queer, Exterminator!, The Cat Inside, The Western Lands, and Interzone.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 4, 1914
Date of Death:
August 2, 1997
Place of Birth:
St. Louis, Missouri
Place of Death:
Lawrence, Kansas
Education:
Los Alamos Ranch School; A.B., Harvard University, 1936; graduate study, 1938

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