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William Burroughs
  • Gentleman Junkie by Graham Caveney
    An excellent introduction to the life and work of American artist William Burroughs, it's especially notable for the beautiful design which incorporates snapshots, artifacts such as hat-cleaning receipts and Army reports, and washes of Burroughs' shotgun paintings which background each textured-paper page. This substantial hardback is reminiscent of Burroughs' own scrapbooks and penchant for the pastiche, its look and feel mimicking the experiments in randomness --cut-ups and ballistics-- which (in)formed so much of his work. It is foremost a visual, tactile, and olfactory (new it smells like crayons) treat.
  • With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker
    "The Bunker" was the converted windowless YMCA shower room that was Burroughs's home when he lived in NYC from 1974 - 1980. This book collects conversations with his visitors during that time. I'm not the biggest fan of his fiction, but these interviews contain gobs of illuminating and spooky plainspeaking wisdom from the grand-daddy of the Beats.

Johnny Cash
  • CASH: The Autobiography
    Hello, this is Johnny Cash. I was most intrigued by his mystical experiences: the escape from suicide in a Tennessee cave, benign ghosts in Jamaica, and a startling encounter with a retarded Jewish boy in a NYC church. Less apologetic and born-again than his previous memoir, you're still not supposed to think he's a bad-ass after reading of his wild drinking, driving, and drugging exploits--but, hello, how could you not?

Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut calls these collections of letters, essays, speeches, and autobiographical sketches blivits, a word he defines as "two pounds of shit in a one-pound bag." This is where you can find numerous commencement speeches, book reviews, and meditations on the creative process and the importance of family, not to mention the lyrics to his favorite country song. The best of the batch is Conversations..., a compilation of revealing interviews with the man.

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