cover image My Education: 2a Book of Dreams

My Education: 2a Book of Dreams

William S. Burroughs. Viking Books, $21.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-670-81350-6

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 Those familiar with the Burroughs canon will notice that the author's disjointed prose remains, but the satire has been replaced by a more plaintive voice.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.)