William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock 'n' Roll tops New York Times Summer Reading List

New York Times’ summer reading picks include William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which tops the Music category.

“. . .There’s a brilliant idea behind Casey Rae’s WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS AND THE CULT OF ROCK ’N’ ROLL (University of Texas, $27.95), which is that if you simply follow Burroughs through the rock ’n’ roll years you’ll see him achieve a flickering ubiquity — lurking here, eavesdropping there, photobombing the whole parade. It becomes a kind of alternative history. In the 1950s Burroughs is in Morocco, opiated, getting tipped into trances by the Sufi musicians of Joujouka (later to be famously bootlegged by Brian Jones). He pops up in Swinging London: There he is, cadaverously, on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” right next to Marilyn Monroe. In the ’70s he’s in downtown Manhattan, living in a converted Y.M.C.A. locker room (perfect) that he calls the Bunker, where Lou Reed and Joe Strummer come to pay court. He relocates to Lawrence, Kan., and the rock ’n’ roll acolytes maintain a steady love, through the ’80s and into the ’90s: Lydia Lunch, Grant Hart, Tom Waits … and Cobain himself, who in 1993 visits Lawrence and presents Burroughs with a book about Lead Belly and ‘a large decorative knife.’ The two men talk, and then — with the meeting almost over — Burroughs takes Cobain’s tour manager aside and says, ‘Your friend hasn’t learned his limitations, and he’s not going to make it if he continues.’”

Check out the full review here.