Category: Authors F-J (By Surname)

William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg – The Yage Letters [REVIEW]

Title: The Yage Letters

Author: William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg

Type: Non-Fiction/Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 140

Rating: 4/5

It’s hard to classify this one, because it’s a bit of a mixture between fiction and non-fiction in the same way that a lot of the Beat Generation’s works were.

It’s a sort of epistolary novel that documents Burroughs’ search for yagé, which is essentially ayahuasca, through a series of letters that he sent to Allen Ginsberg. Except as the introductory essay notes, the majority of the book was written after the fact and didn’t appear in the letters.

It was a lot of fun to read, but weirdly I think that Oliver Harris’ introductory essay was my favourite part of all. Either way, you’ll need to read it if you’re a Burroughs fan.

Learn more about The Yage Letters.

Matt Haig – The Midnight Library [REVIEW]

Title: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Type:  Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 292

Rating: 4/5  

By this point, you can definitely call me a Matt Haig fan. And this book is a great example of why.

The idea here is that our protagonist feels as though she’s stuck in a dead-end life and so she decides to unalive herself, as I gather we’re supposed to call it now. But instead of finding herself in heaven or hell, she ends up in the Midnight Library.

In the library, she’s given the ability to undo her regrets in life and to see all of the different ways that her life could have worked out if things had been different. It’s reminiscent of The Butterfly Effect in that respect, but with a typical Haig touch.

I also liked the fact that a cat (Voltaire or Volts for short) plays an important role in the plot here, especially after reading To Be a Cat. Haig seems to be a cat man, and cat men are all good in my book.

The only real criticism that I have is that I thought the ending was a little predictable, although I also think that’s because that’s what the ending had to be. I can’t imagine it with any other ending because it tied things up nicely and also came with a little message for the reader.

In fact, this is one of those books that makes you think, and I’m always down for that. In particular, it had me musing on the nature of regret and whether the choices that we make and don’t make in life actually define us.

Yeah, Matt Haig is pretty good at that kind of thing.

Learn more about The Midnight Library.