Thursday, December 21, 2006

Some Recent Reads from the Stacks - Part II

The lost years of William S. Burroughs: beats in South Texas by Rob Johnson (2006, Texas A&M University Press). This period of Burroughs' life has not been examined so closely before, and it's a time of particular interest to Burroughs readers in the Lone Star State. Details of WSB and friend Kells Elvin's farming operation and the deaths of his wife (accidental shooting by Burroughs) and friend Gene Terry (mauled by a lion in a border nightclub) are given full treatment. Burroughs, who died in 1997 at his home in Lawrence, Kansas, is the author of Naked Lunch, Junky, Queer, Cities of the Red Night, and other groundbreaking books. Norman Mailer said "Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius." Author Johnson is associate professor at the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg.

Counting sheep: the science and pleasures of sleep and dreams by Paul Martin (2004, Thomas Dunne Books). This isn't at all a book to put you to sleep. It's more likely one that'll keep you reading up into the wee hours, when you should be catching some zzz's. All sorts of minutiae about sleep and dreams is here -- why your body and mind demand them both, and what can happen if you don't get enough of either. Hypnagogic versus hypnopompic states, REM, NREM, EEOG, PET, and more. They're explored here in all their fascinating glory, along with tons of literary and historical anecdotes. I'm not a big one for popular science books, but this one more than held my interest all the way through. Recommended!

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