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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, procuring drugs or 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


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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, procuring drugs or 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

30 review for My Education: A Book of Dreams

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kilburn Adam

    William S Burroughs dreams of heroin, giant centipedes, and guns. Oh yeah and young boys with skin like alabaster. I pretty much knew he would dream of those things.

  2. 5 out of 5

    HajarRead

    I loved the few pages when Burroughs is actually sharing his thoughts about life rather than his dreams... Which this book is mostly about. Looking forward to reading his other novels especially "Naked Lunch". I loved the few pages when Burroughs is actually sharing his thoughts about life rather than his dreams... Which this book is mostly about. Looking forward to reading his other novels especially "Naked Lunch".

  3. 5 out of 5

    Zac Sydow

    currently regressing hard but i think this is worth sifting through to find some of the few pages of sincere autobiographical thoughts he ever wrote. almost heartbreaking at points. of course i loved it more than i should have, as always

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Corvine

    Really for those with a longstanding interest in the life and work of WSB.... probably not a good point of entry as a first contact.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ada Graves

    It's odd what people share as far as common dreams. Mr. Burroughs describes a number of odd dream experiences I thought were peculiar to just me. I guess the human condition is more universal than I thought. It's odd what people share as far as common dreams. Mr. Burroughs describes a number of odd dream experiences I thought were peculiar to just me. I guess the human condition is more universal than I thought.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kiara

    I like the concept better than the book itself.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    This book is a collection of Burroughs dreams. Some a more like snippets, others are a page or two, and some read more like journal entries. I think that if you are already a fan of Burroughs then this book is for you. I had never read Burroughs till now and I got a good indication of how he writes. Lucid, dreamlike, honest. I enjoyed the dreams that were weightier in their language and depth and that were longer. Burroughs has a few reoccurring themes: making it with men, the absence of food, p This book is a collection of Burroughs dreams. Some a more like snippets, others are a page or two, and some read more like journal entries. I think that if you are already a fan of Burroughs then this book is for you. I had never read Burroughs till now and I got a good indication of how he writes. Lucid, dreamlike, honest. I enjoyed the dreams that were weightier in their language and depth and that were longer. Burroughs has a few reoccurring themes: making it with men, the absence of food, packing, floating, taking heroine or hunting for methadone, being junk sick, and the Land of the Dead (as he calls it). Clearly his dreams are a side effect of the life he lived which is interesting but based upon this book, nothing to be glamorized by. At least not for me. I think the book isn't just an indication of how Burroughs writes but also of who he is and who he was. It's probably the best memoir he could've written. Though I say that without any knowledge of Burroughs writing a memoir. Would I read another one of his books? Yes, for sure. I liked it enough to keep reading his work. In fact from what I understand he grew so much inspiration for his work from his dreams. I think thats pretty evident based upon this book, because so many of these dreams could be something more. Is it for everyone? No I don't think so. But if you like Burroughs or his writing style or the beat writers then yea, you'll like it. I also think out of the beat writers I have read, thus far, Burroughs is the best.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Snope

    WSB dreams about what you'd expect him to: gay intercourse; morphine; strange creatures; guns; Tangier; etc. But some of his dreams are just amazing, and his writing -- raw, concise and descriptive -- captures these dreams with powerful impact. These are interesting dreams from a very, imaginative talented mind. There are themes in the dreams, like the above things, and recurring people, and many dreams have dark settings and disturbing goings-on. But there is also levity, in that WSB flies arou WSB dreams about what you'd expect him to: gay intercourse; morphine; strange creatures; guns; Tangier; etc. But some of his dreams are just amazing, and his writing -- raw, concise and descriptive -- captures these dreams with powerful impact. These are interesting dreams from a very, imaginative talented mind. There are themes in the dreams, like the above things, and recurring people, and many dreams have dark settings and disturbing goings-on. But there is also levity, in that WSB flies around, continually can't get a decent breakfast in the Land of the Dead, and often dreams IN his dreams, waking up in the dream and then waking up in waking life. It is pretty bold to publish, when he was alive I believe, reports from his un- and subconscious. There are few things more private and revealing than someone's dreams. Burroughs believes a little too much in his dreams, that he is visiting actual places in alternate realities, or that his dreams are visions or premonitions. But it is when he simply describes his dreams in vivid yet terse terms that his writing is at its best. Many dreams would make great short films, plays, short stories, even movies. His style is of course fragmentary and nonlinear, but it works in this context since he's writing about the fiction going on his sleeping mind. A very intelligent man with dreams worth spending time reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hanna

    I like dreams. I like hearing about other people's dreams. Have a funny dream? Tell me about it. I've never been able to figure out why telling people about a dream I had bored them to death. At the beginning of this book Burroughs explains this: dreams have no context. Ahh. I see now. Anyway this is quite interesting and strange. I waffled between giving it three and four stars because there were parts of it that bored me to no end. But then I realized that stars don't mean anything lol. Burrou I like dreams. I like hearing about other people's dreams. Have a funny dream? Tell me about it. I've never been able to figure out why telling people about a dream I had bored them to death. At the beginning of this book Burroughs explains this: dreams have no context. Ahh. I see now. Anyway this is quite interesting and strange. I waffled between giving it three and four stars because there were parts of it that bored me to no end. But then I realized that stars don't mean anything lol. Burroughs dreams about cats, travelling, and young men a lot but what struck me funny was that the structuring of his dreams (or at least how he relates them) is totally different than mine. Also sometimes I would have dreams about reading this book- so I was dreaming about Burroughs's dreams? Like in very vivid detail and I would remember what I had read in my dream and it was in similar form to what he wrote but I wasn't able to find those excepts and so I finally remembered I had been dreaming. If that makes sense. So maybe this helped me become a better dreamer. Probably not. "My God, I am about to pet a centipede! I petted it. It turned around and went away through an invisible diaphragm." "Imagine a big lemur. Lemur as big as I am, and cuddling up to me--nothing sexual, it's much more intense than that." no context It's a neat read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mat

    Very interesting glimpse into one of the darkest and most fascinating minds of the 20th Century. Similar to Kerouac's Book of Dreams in parts, Burroughs here presents a record of some of his dreams (in explicit detail) towards the end of his mortal career. I'm not averse to the usual obscenities and rectal mucous in his books but this book had little of that and just focused on what happened in his dreams as he levitated or ran into people he knew. Some of his dreams sound quite frightening but Very interesting glimpse into one of the darkest and most fascinating minds of the 20th Century. Similar to Kerouac's Book of Dreams in parts, Burroughs here presents a record of some of his dreams (in explicit detail) towards the end of his mortal career. I'm not averse to the usual obscenities and rectal mucous in his books but this book had little of that and just focused on what happened in his dreams as he levitated or ran into people he knew. Some of his dreams sound quite frightening but then again, I guess we all have nightmares. (I just don't remember half of mine). There are moments of WSB brilliance throughout the book, where Burroughs makes some very strong points and scathingly attacks the status quo of modern society and I gotta say, does it very convincingly, at that. The end of the book ended on a bit of a sad note (involving death) as one of the stories, which at first I thought was a dream, turned out to be true. Burroughs and his son (see Cursed from Birth for more details) seemed to go through much pain in their lives. RIP William.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mizuki

    Reading this book is a strange experience...but it is kind of exciting too. (Link: http://bucktickmusic.forumotion.com/t...) The author seems to be flying around in this massive maze which is formed with his strange thoughts and even stranger dreams and I'm struggling even just to keep up with his track of thoughts..........or the lack of it. See? This guy is taking flight with his words and dreams! His feet are leaving the ground! So you run after him, trying to keep up........but to tell the trut Reading this book is a strange experience...but it is kind of exciting too. (Link: http://bucktickmusic.forumotion.com/t...) The author seems to be flying around in this massive maze which is formed with his strange thoughts and even stranger dreams and I'm struggling even just to keep up with his track of thoughts..........or the lack of it. See? This guy is taking flight with his words and dreams! His feet are leaving the ground! So you run after him, trying to keep up........but to tell the truth it is difficult to keep up. William S. Burroughs, an author with no boundary. Will try to finish reading the whole book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Burroughs describes his dreams and includes comments on his recurring dreams about levitation and about searching for breakfast, and comments on the meaning of dreams about packing suitcases. Some dreams include celebrities (Mick Jagger, Ron Hubbard); some are about cats, and some are about firearms. Most of the descriptions are short, frequently a few lines long, but Burroughs is precise in his details, particularly when describing persons and settings. Burroughs describes his dreams and includes comments on his recurring dreams about levitation and about searching for breakfast, and comments on the meaning of dreams about packing suitcases. Some dreams include celebrities (Mick Jagger, Ron Hubbard); some are about cats, and some are about firearms. Most of the descriptions are short, frequently a few lines long, but Burroughs is precise in his details, particularly when describing persons and settings.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adam Huber

    The reviews and blurbs on "My Education" tout it as an extremely personal book for Burroughs, and it is. The problem, however, is that it's also extremely self-indulgent and not easily-accessible unless you're already well versed in Burroughs' previous work and background. It's a welcome edition for the die-hard Burroughs fans out there, but definitely not a good place to start for those looking to give the surrealist beat writer a try. The reviews and blurbs on "My Education" tout it as an extremely personal book for Burroughs, and it is. The problem, however, is that it's also extremely self-indulgent and not easily-accessible unless you're already well versed in Burroughs' previous work and background. It's a welcome edition for the die-hard Burroughs fans out there, but definitely not a good place to start for those looking to give the surrealist beat writer a try.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This book is a horrible bit of collected scraps of disconnected dreams. Do not bother getting or reading it. i suspect that it is simply an effort to create revenue from Burroughs's estate by publishing some of his notes as a book. This book is a horrible bit of collected scraps of disconnected dreams. Do not bother getting or reading it. i suspect that it is simply an effort to create revenue from Burroughs's estate by publishing some of his notes as a book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    "Speaking of black holes, Sanche said: 'I would have to know what the cuisine is like'. And I thought, 'You are really earthbound.' Cuisine! The aliens that have been contacted it seems have no stomachs." Nothing more than dreams. "Speaking of black holes, Sanche said: 'I would have to know what the cuisine is like'. And I thought, 'You are really earthbound.' Cuisine! The aliens that have been contacted it seems have no stomachs." Nothing more than dreams.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tait

    For a literary dream journal, “My Education” is more interesting than many others I’ve read. Rather than the intellectual coziness of Cixious’s “Dream I Tell You” and Ortiz’s “Bruja” or the sadly quotidian surrealism of Michel Lieris’s “Nughts as Day, Days as Night” and Georges Perec’s “La Boutique Obscure,” or the zany incomprehensibility of Kerouac’s “Book of Dreams,” Burroughs’s dreams contain the kind of weird imagery, unsettling scenarios, and ambiguous psychogeographies that I personally a For a literary dream journal, “My Education” is more interesting than many others I’ve read. Rather than the intellectual coziness of Cixious’s “Dream I Tell You” and Ortiz’s “Bruja” or the sadly quotidian surrealism of Michel Lieris’s “Nughts as Day, Days as Night” and Georges Perec’s “La Boutique Obscure,” or the zany incomprehensibility of Kerouac’s “Book of Dreams,” Burroughs’s dreams contain the kind of weird imagery, unsettling scenarios, and ambiguous psychogeographies that I personally associate with dreaming. As a clear source of inspiration for his fiction, his dreams contain all the dark contents and personalities that Burroughs fans are familiar with, but in a raw and more clearly narrated form. On top of this, Burroughs makes the interesting and ancient connection between dreaming and the bardo or afterlife condition, calling the place he went at night the “Land of the Dead.” This association, psychologically explored in Hillman’s “The Dream and the Underworld,” here functions as a mystery and world-building mechanic, as well as a window into the clear sadness Burroughs felt at having outlived many of his well known contemporaries. Given the vividness of the images and clarity of the writing, “My Education” really illustrates what is really going on when people say that reading other people’s dreams is boring: not because of a lack of engaging material but because dreams, as discreet narratives, rarely allow for character development or plot progression in the novelistic sense. Burroughs’ dreams are timeless moments, where he has returned to Tangiers or to his mother’s house, and where nothing he does can have any weight or consequence (even if taken as a consistent secondary reality). But as his final published work, this elegiac and inefficacious backward glance at Burroughs’ obsessive images, lost friends, and the places he could never leave behind works as a bardo experience of a great writer dreaming his way into the beyond.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jt

    I used to be a college student. I could have been a contender. I left my memories aside. William Seward Burroughs Jr imbues the conviction of a junkie & the genius of a scholar. He abuses heroin, pot, methadone, hash, the rare line of cocaine, & LSD. His dreams portray a lifetime of violence, sex, death, madness, and unfailing honesty. Mr. Burroughs channeled the Beat energy and transformed a generation to think outside the norm. I was not aware that he painted on a canvas. Mort, Ian, & Allen wer I used to be a college student. I could have been a contender. I left my memories aside. William Seward Burroughs Jr imbues the conviction of a junkie & the genius of a scholar. He abuses heroin, pot, methadone, hash, the rare line of cocaine, & LSD. His dreams portray a lifetime of violence, sex, death, madness, and unfailing honesty. Mr. Burroughs channeled the Beat energy and transformed a generation to think outside the norm. I was not aware that he painted on a canvas. Mort, Ian, & Allen were queer and part of William's circle of friends. These beatniks were not afraid of their sexual orientation. Burroughs unabashedly praised his exploits, travel to foreign countries, and communication with aliens. It was during the 1950's that the Ufo phenomenon was expanding into America's consciousness. William believed in alien abductions as well. He also was untrustworthy of the US government. This was not shocking though. A lot of Americans were critical of the hierarchy and its role in war, politics, and freedom. He seemed to visualize his dreams no matter the grotesqueness, use of certain colours, and irregular time/space dimensions. I admit that I had to focus harder when WSB started to exert his boundless creativity. He is truly a brilliant yet flawed human being. Thank goodness for that too.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom Calvard

    Burroughs' books - always fragmented, shocking, radical, subversive, grotesque. They have to be understood in conjunction with the writer's life and his visions and experiences. This late volume is an intimate collection of dreams, reflections, and memories. Although quite jumbled in one quick dream jotting after another, there are a lot of profound thoughts and images. Burroughs was a very original artist and writer, and I found it was interesting in how it got me thinking about dreams, creativi Burroughs' books - always fragmented, shocking, radical, subversive, grotesque. They have to be understood in conjunction with the writer's life and his visions and experiences. This late volume is an intimate collection of dreams, reflections, and memories. Although quite jumbled in one quick dream jotting after another, there are a lot of profound thoughts and images. Burroughs was a very original artist and writer, and I found it was interesting in how it got me thinking about dreams, creativity and layers of consciousness, even animals and the nature of life and death, existence, the human condition. No stone unturned, even if there are sometimes centipedes underneath!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel

    “An experience most deeply felt is the most difficult to convey in words. Remembering brings the emptiness, the acutely painful awareness of irreparable loss. From my window, I can see the marble slab over Ruski’s grave...Ruski, my first and always special cat, a Russian Blue from the woods of East Kansas. Every time I see a grave, I get that empty feeling where something was, and isn’t anymore, and will never be again.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Duarte

    Well, it is what it is, it's right there in the title, it's just Burroughs' dream diary. Sometimes it's interesting in the way that dreams can only be, but for the most part it is just a trip down dream lane with largely boring nonsense. Nonetheless it did inspire me to write my own dream journal and, hey, that has to count for something. Not bad, but certainly not essential Burroughs. Check out Exterminator! for usage of dream imagery used for actual short stories. Well, it is what it is, it's right there in the title, it's just Burroughs' dream diary. Sometimes it's interesting in the way that dreams can only be, but for the most part it is just a trip down dream lane with largely boring nonsense. Nonetheless it did inspire me to write my own dream journal and, hey, that has to count for something. Not bad, but certainly not essential Burroughs. Check out Exterminator! for usage of dream imagery used for actual short stories.

  21. 5 out of 5

    monni

    This book was exhausting and I couldn't really get into it, I couldn't focus on it for more than five minutes at the best and now that I've finally read it till the end I feel drained. I kept on reading because I thought it would get better somehow, that something new would raise its head, but it appears I've wasted my time. I wasn't familiar with Mr. Burroughs before this book, maybe if I knew what I was getting into I'd been better prepared. Now I know this, apparently well-known and appreciat This book was exhausting and I couldn't really get into it, I couldn't focus on it for more than five minutes at the best and now that I've finally read it till the end I feel drained. I kept on reading because I thought it would get better somehow, that something new would raise its head, but it appears I've wasted my time. I wasn't familiar with Mr. Burroughs before this book, maybe if I knew what I was getting into I'd been better prepared. Now I know this, apparently well-known and appreciated, writer likes pretty young boys, dreams a lot of dead people and travels to Venus in his head, can't get service and never ceases getting pissed about that, likes cats, carries guns around and keeps on losing his cane. Or at least in his dreams. Intimate.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    There are some aliens camped near us in blue denim suits - Martians, I think - and I visit them. They seem friendly enough and one man takes off his clothes and there is a column of bone running down from his neck and nothing else except his hipbones. He says, "Well, I really got a turkey of a body..." He shit sure does. I feel heat in my foot and look down and there is a lighted cigarette shoved under the sole of my shoe near the toe. Someone has given me a hot foot. When I extract the cigarette, There are some aliens camped near us in blue denim suits - Martians, I think - and I visit them. They seem friendly enough and one man takes off his clothes and there is a column of bone running down from his neck and nothing else except his hipbones. He says, "Well, I really got a turkey of a body..." He shit sure does. I feel heat in my foot and look down and there is a lighted cigarette shoved under the sole of my shoe near the toe. Someone has given me a hot foot. When I extract the cigarette, I break it open and it is like a clamshell with tentacles inside. Not however moving or alive.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chaz

    A series of dream vignette's investigating the subconscious mind of the true mastermind of the beat generation entertained me for longer than I had expected. Burroughs scientific nerve and scalpel wit is sharp and shining while he is freely associating on some of his lucid and hazy dreams. One particular quote that kind of stuck in my head was something like " how does God feel watching his creation dying for thousands of years?”. If you're a fan of Burroughs you’ll find it profoundly personal a A series of dream vignette's investigating the subconscious mind of the true mastermind of the beat generation entertained me for longer than I had expected. Burroughs scientific nerve and scalpel wit is sharp and shining while he is freely associating on some of his lucid and hazy dreams. One particular quote that kind of stuck in my head was something like " how does God feel watching his creation dying for thousands of years?”. If you're a fan of Burroughs you’ll find it profoundly personal and thought-provoking.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Delince

    This is actually a re-read on my part. Moving through this book years after my initial read I do find that this is a deeply personal book by Burroughs. He often uncharacteristically speaks in the literal first person to the reader, biographers, etc. the tone as well is brighter dispute the less than whimsical subject matter - dreams and all. I have to echo some of the other comments however... This book is best suited for a reader intimately familiar with Burtoughs' body of work. His book "Junky This is actually a re-read on my part. Moving through this book years after my initial read I do find that this is a deeply personal book by Burroughs. He often uncharacteristically speaks in the literal first person to the reader, biographers, etc. the tone as well is brighter dispute the less than whimsical subject matter - dreams and all. I have to echo some of the other comments however... This book is best suited for a reader intimately familiar with Burtoughs' body of work. His book "Junky" is a great first read for the Burroughs novice.

  25. 4 out of 5

    reem

    Always a treat when you're deeply insomniac and sleep seems to be the last thing on your body's mind. Burroughs' dreams are wicked and sensual, giving that feel of short stories or weirdly-structured poems, always beautiful to run your fingers down the sentences, pretend to understand half of what they mean, but, anyway, that doesn't matter because who doesn't really get beauty? Always a treat when you're deeply insomniac and sleep seems to be the last thing on your body's mind. Burroughs' dreams are wicked and sensual, giving that feel of short stories or weirdly-structured poems, always beautiful to run your fingers down the sentences, pretend to understand half of what they mean, but, anyway, that doesn't matter because who doesn't really get beauty?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    This is the first William S. Burroughs' book I've ever read, and I really enjoyed it. It's basically an experimental piece of writing that deals with Burroughs' dreamworld. The book delves into topics of drug use, pop culture, sexuality, violence, and memory. It's an interesting read. I'm definitely glad I checked it out. This is the first William S. Burroughs' book I've ever read, and I really enjoyed it. It's basically an experimental piece of writing that deals with Burroughs' dreamworld. The book delves into topics of drug use, pop culture, sexuality, violence, and memory. It's an interesting read. I'm definitely glad I checked it out.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Oliver

    I have asked myself, why am I so entranced by this book of another persons dreams? No one has a greater skill at describing the misery of the human condition than William Burroughs. Dreams are as real as any other part of our consciousness and in them Burroughs explores perception and his ideas and creativity are profoundly personal and at times touching here as well.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nick Black

    I think they found this scribbled in the back of Burroughs's CHILTON manuals, or generated it via Monte Carlo method, or something. Naked Lunch this ain't. I think they found this scribbled in the back of Burroughs's CHILTON manuals, or generated it via Monte Carlo method, or something. Naked Lunch this ain't.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sauli

    Tap into the mind of William Burroughs and experience, among other things, recurring visits to the Land of the Dead, dreams of food, or rather lack thereof, and male sexuality. A strange, wonderful and peculiar education!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    william burroughs is a heavy writer and a really heavy dreamer.

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