The horrors of Iraq are on full display in ‘The Corpse Exhibition’

“The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq,” the new collection of short fiction by Hassan Blasim, rendered from two previous collections, invites us to look at — and try not to look away from — the lives of Iraqi civilians going back to the Baathist reign of Saddam Hussein and into the perils of the Green Zone.

Guarding Lincoln and his legacy

Joshua Zeitz‘s “Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image,” tells the story of the president’s two young White House secretaries, who controlled access to Lincoln and kept job-seekers at bay — often literally, given how anyone then could walk into the White House during business hours.

Lawrence residents remember William S. Burroughs

Sure, William S. Burroughs was a cultural magnet who drew admirers from all over the globe to Kansas. But the “Naked Lunch” author didn’t touch the lives of just celebrities. In addition to his literary influence, he proved a vital, accessible part of the local art, music, film and university scene. As such, he interacted with an array of people during his 16-year tenure in Lawrence.

‘Call me Burroughs, A Life’ doesn’t skimp on Burroughs’ dark side

William Burroughs’ life was an epic tale — a tale with some disturbing chapters. Barry Miles’ comprehensive new biography is a celebration of Burroughs’ creative achievements and influence. It’s also a portrait of a man who was capable of shocking — and on one infamous occasion, deadly — acts of carelessness and cruelty.

Insight from a death-row lawyer in ‘Things I’ve Learned From Dying’

Books that are both riveting and important are all too rare. David R. Dow’s “Things I’ve Learned From Dying” is a powerful, moving cri de coeur that recalls Ron Suskind’s “Hope in the Unseen” and Tracy Kidder’s “Strength in What Remains” in the way it tests — and renews — your faith in humanity by confronting intractable social ills and moral quandaries unflinchingly.

‘Bird Skinner’: When deep-rooted memories vie with anger

Alice Greenway’s quietly devastating portrait of a man ravaged by loss and guilt would be unbearably sad if it weren’t also so sensitively written and gently understanding of human frailty.As she did in “White Ghost Girls,” her first novel, Greenway locates a bleak personal odyssey amid serene natural beauty, which offers her tortured protagonist glimpses of a world beyond suffering and sorrow.

The real trigger for World War I

Conventional wisdom holds that the June 28, 1914, assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and wife Sophie in Sarajevo represented the spark that set ablaze the “tinderbox” of Europe. But author Sean McMeekin will be in Kansas City on Jan. 29 to dissuade his audience of that theory.

Events to mark 100 years of William S. Burroughs

“Creative Observer,” an exhibition of William Burroughs’ art and collections, is a multimedia experience that includes his collaborative works with Brion Gysin, Robert Rauschenberg, Kurt Cobain, Keith Haring, George Condo and other artists. On exhibit through March 2 at 940 New Hampshire, Lawrence. lawrenceartscenter.org, 785-843-2787