Beatnik/Beat Generation Writers - Search & Destroy

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is there is a thread for this? can you read any of these guys after the age of 21? should you? probably pick up a lot of bad habits that way. and you can probably blame them for the worst of the hippie excesses, right? i liked junkie, but i kinda feel like that book doesn't even count. maybe burroughs himself doesn't even count. i can't really read him though. i get bored. even in high school i liked the IDEA of these guys and the old glamorous snapshots more than i liked reading them. i could never finish a kerouac book. and he was supposedly a hero of mine when i was 15 or so. i remember writing a book report on the transcendentalists and the beatniks for school when i was 16. i can't read ginsberg at all. most of it just kinda makes me wince a little. i listen to a lot of 50's jazz. maybe that's enough for me. i think i enjoyed neal cassady's book thing many years ago. i think i probably went from teen fascination with pictures of jack kerouac to kneejerk dismissal of all that stuff pretty quickly. i also kinda think that post office and ham on rye by bukowski might be better novels than anything the beatniks wrote. and i'm still fond of hubert selby. though not technically a beat he did the stream thing and i think he was better at it too. (older dudes with long beards are still way serious about this stuff. it will never die for them. like hardcore doo wop fans. but i'll take doo wop any day.) does ferlinghetti hold up? maybe he was the best of them.

scott seward, Monday, 15 April 2013 14:03 (six years ago) link

guess i'm just wondering who comes out smelling the best. burroughs fandom will never die, i suppose. kenneth rexroth? gary snyder?

scott seward, Monday, 15 April 2013 14:16 (six years ago) link

Burroughs, Ginsberg, Kerouac were wonderful performers; check out their records. Corso, apparently not so much: he had a twangy, nasal, sing-song delivery in the few excerpts I've heard. But his early Gasoline poems were especially appealing to me, though his imagery, which I associate with R. Crumb and Philip Guston, is also Ginsbergian, so I guess you wouldn't dig. Early Ginsberg was my longtime companion on first and best acid trips. Snyder is very ambitious and imaginative, very lithe; I should read more of his. Seems like he didn't have the substance probs of others; he's more like a Buddhist mountain goat. I think of Arthur Russell ss Beat, and he told Ginsberg he wanted his music to be Buddhist bubblegum. Paul Goodman said, "Even Faulkner is Beat, in a complicated way," and it's true. Pylon is just one of the more obvious examples.

dow, Monday, 15 April 2013 14:55 (six years ago) link

Hard to imagine I could enjoy any of them now, although I liked Dharma Bums and many of Ginsberg's poems a lot when I was younger.

--808 542137 (Hurting 2), Monday, 15 April 2013 14:58 (six years ago) link

It's a sensibilty in some country/countryoid music too: Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson, Todd Snider (a number of others, but I gotta go)

dow, Monday, 15 April 2013 14:59 (six years ago) link

Highway 61-era Dylan.

dow, Monday, 15 April 2013 15:00 (six years ago) link

does Bowles count? He's the only one who still scares me.

Confession: I haven't finished a Kerouac book, despite several attempts.

the little prince of inane false binary hype (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 15 April 2013 15:01 (six years ago) link

herbert huncke had a cool speaking voice.

scott seward, Monday, 15 April 2013 15:21 (six years ago) link

also, they kinda remind me of Mad Men now more than ever. all the sleepy sexism/racism. ad man patter. i do like hepcat singers. jive talkers in general. but it wasn't the beatnik's native tongue. lord buckley i can hang with. i like babs gonzales.

scott seward, Monday, 15 April 2013 15:26 (six years ago) link

some of the work by poet dudes on the periphery of the beat shit is still readable to me, couple kenneth patchen poem, brautigan's in watermelon sugar

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Monday, 15 April 2013 15:27 (six years ago) link

I actually listened to macuen's beatsville recently, it aged horribly I guess but I was still laughing in places

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Monday, 15 April 2013 15:29 (six years ago) link

do you guys associate kenneth rexroth with this movement? because his translations of chinese poems are really amazing and, i think, were pretty influential in introducing asian lit to america in the 50s when they first came out.

Pat Finn, Monday, 15 April 2013 15:44 (six years ago) link

i really liked John Clellon Holmes' Go when I read it, reminded me of Nelson Algren.

life went on, sadly (Noodle Vague), Monday, 15 April 2013 16:01 (six years ago) link

Search: rod mckuen

ok let's all fuck our pants to something new (wins), Monday, 15 April 2013 16:50 (six years ago) link

The beats? I'll say search Rexroth, but he was not really of that generation, so much as adopted by them as a precursor and a mentor. afaik, Jack Spicer didn't self-identify as a beat, either. Bowles is yet another non-beat who sometimes is swept into their group due to superficialities like living in Morocco and smoking hashish.

I'd def destroy Patchen. Even when I was open to reading almost any kind of poetry he never appealed to me. He seems like a more pixilated version of ee cummings or the thoroughly debased offspring of aa milne and artaud. Whatever popularity McKuen can claim is founded entirely on his unconcealed sentimentality.

Aimless, Monday, 15 April 2013 17:53 (six years ago) link

i have kind of a soft spot or maybe more a sneaking sympathy for kerouac just for the sheer craziness of his ambition as a writer, just his whole project of writing a bunch of loosely connected novels about his own life, from early childhood on, that he imagined he would eventually republish (using everyone's real names) as a proustian epic. 'on the road' is the only one that anyone remembers, but it was supposed to be just one more chapter, midway between little jack's imaginary friends and old, alcoholic jack stumbling off to autograph signings. there's a gentleness to his writing that i find more appealing than the kinda macho attitude of bukowski et al, and it's hard to dismiss the sense of sadness, waste and tragedy that you get from his later novels (like 'big sur').

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Monday, 15 April 2013 19:42 (six years ago) link

apart from kerouac, i kind of think of the beats as being great training wheels for literature. the problem is that so many people just stop there.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Monday, 15 April 2013 19:43 (six years ago) link

have i mentioned on here the guy i knew who decided suddenly he was 'really into kerouac' and wanted to 'do the whole on the road thing' and i was round his house one day and realised he was reading on the road in the penguin junior readers edition

the bitcoin comic (thomp), Monday, 15 April 2013 19:51 (six years ago) link

aww bless

ok let's all fuck our pants to something new (wins), Monday, 15 April 2013 19:55 (six years ago) link

that anecdote makes me feel sad for some reason xpost

Pat Finn, Monday, 15 April 2013 20:44 (six years ago) link

what is that like an abridged version?

--808 542137 (Hurting 2), Monday, 15 April 2013 20:48 (six years ago) link

Beater than beat - Langston Hughes reading Weary Blues over Mingus, 1958. Booklet by Leonard Feather, and thus worth reading.

lutefish, Thursday, 18 April 2013 07:15 (six years ago) link

Yes! Also Mingus's "Pictures From The City" and Beneath The Underdog. Jazz literature def pertains, incl Leroi Jones' sometimes brilliant, often shit-stirring, always fluent Blues People, Black Music and early poetry, though he got more erratic as Baraka.

dow, Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:37 (six years ago) link

does gysin count? or even trocchi? as for the proto-beat patchen, i enjoy his prose (and recordings), but have never actually got around to reading any of his poetry.

of the actual beats, the only thing i can imagine wanting to reread is lew welch's unfinished novel leo which is pretty low-key and somewhat desultory (in a good way). i'm also a fan of ginsberg's music, but his poetry pretty much leaves me cold.

no lime tangier, Thursday, 18 April 2013 15:36 (six years ago) link

Ginsberg was much more affecting as a personality than as a poet. After 30 he never worked hard enough at his poetry to make any of it stick around. In 100 years people will read his work and wonder what anyone saw in it.

Aimless, Thursday, 18 April 2013 16:58 (six years ago) link

That's probably true. I've given the bastard several tries. The only poem that sticks is his ode to Pessoa.

the little prince of inane false binary hype (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 18 April 2013 17:01 (six years ago) link

Read a whole load of these in my teens, haven't really been back to them since. There are a few Kerouacs that I might try again at some point - Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans, Maggie Cassidy, Lonesome Traveller, Big Sur. Chances of plowing through all the babble in Desolation Angels again = pretty much nil.

dschinghis kraan (NickB), Thursday, 18 April 2013 17:08 (six years ago) link

"Ginsberg was much more affecting as a personality than as a poet."

this is where i cross out the word "affecting" and replace it with the word "tedious" or "embarrassing". but i still haven't learned how to do that on here. 60's and beyond ginsberg just kinda makes me cringe a little. but maybe i'm just mean.

scott seward, Thursday, 18 April 2013 17:22 (six years ago) link

all these guys spoiled two generations of kids into thinking revision, meter, and rhymes were restrictions, man.

the little prince of inane false binary hype (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 18 April 2013 17:35 (six years ago) link

Apparently Ginsberg had a lot of charisma in person. It's from a cool distance that it's easy to see him as a clown.

Aimless, Thursday, 18 April 2013 19:06 (six years ago) link

i think 'america' and 'a supermarket in california' hold up just fine. most of these guys work better when you're hearing them read their stuff.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Thursday, 18 April 2013 19:19 (six years ago) link

in tim lawrence's arthur russell biog it seems like ginsberg was really good to russell when he was dying of AIDS. pretty much everything else about russell's death is unbearably distressing so I find ginsberg's decency very touching & am positively predisposed to him as an individual. not sure if other beats took buddhism as seriously?

ogmor, Thursday, 18 April 2013 19:46 (six years ago) link

ginsberg is really aware of the fact that he's clowning, guys

the bitcoin comic (thomp), Thursday, 18 April 2013 20:09 (six years ago) link

"i wonder who allen could possibly be talking about"

the bitcoin comic (thomp), Thursday, 18 April 2013 20:09 (six years ago) link

ginsberg is really aware of the fact that he's clowning guys

the little prince of inane false binary hype (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 18 April 2013 20:10 (six years ago) link

does Bowles count? He's the only one who still scares me.

I mostly agree with Aimless though... Anyway, I love Bowles (search for Mohammed Mrabet) but you should try his wife, Jane.

As pointed out above, the soundtrack is better than the movie with the Beats, for me at least

No love for Corso?

He has a lot of baggage (handlers' perks) (Michael White), Thursday, 18 April 2013 20:25 (six years ago) link

don said something nice about him. i haven't read his stuff since i was a kid.

scott seward, Thursday, 18 April 2013 20:39 (six years ago) link

i'm not a big richard meltzer fan by any means but i remember his long essay reviewing a bunch of beat books (more than a hundred!) being really entertaining.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Thursday, 18 April 2013 22:05 (six years ago) link

They always struck me as much more likely to be fun hanging out with than having to read their MSs.

He has a lot of baggage (handlers' perks) (Michael White), Thursday, 18 April 2013 22:10 (six years ago) link

i never finished on the road either but reading 3/4 of it at 17 was one of the best reading experiences of my life

flopson, Thursday, 18 April 2013 22:11 (six years ago) link

Man, I thought the workd of OTR when I was 16, despite Capote's slagging off. I couldn't read it at all again when I was 21 even though it was the only English langauge book at at hand that week.

He has a lot of baggage (handlers' perks) (Michael White), Thursday, 18 April 2013 22:16 (six years ago) link

i feel like i would still dig it

flopson, Thursday, 18 April 2013 22:18 (six years ago) link

This is the cover of the Subterraneans I read as a teenager.

http://indianapublicmedia.org/nightlights/files/2010/06/Kerouac-paperback-Subterraneans.jpg

He has a lot of baggage (handlers' perks) (Michael White), Thursday, 18 April 2013 22:23 (six years ago) link

I know it's apples and oranges, but if I want to revist that period, I'd rather read James Baldwin.

He has a lot of baggage (handlers' perks) (Michael White), Thursday, 18 April 2013 22:24 (six years ago) link

desire tormented by Jayne Mansfield doing the twist

the little prince of inane false binary hype (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 18 April 2013 22:24 (six years ago) link

You misspelled Ann-Margret.

He has a lot of baggage (handlers' perks) (Michael White), Thursday, 18 April 2013 22:29 (six years ago) link

started rereading 'big sur' last night to see if i still liked it and so far it's still a pretty intense read, very different from the laconic, aimless style of OTR. the first chapter has kerouac brooding bitterly on the idea of millions of readers thinking of him as a fun-loving 21-year-old when here he is a hard-drinking hermit in his 40s who can barely stand to go outside without having a panic attack. i feel like anyone who's tempted to reread OTR should just read this one instead.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 19 April 2013 00:57 (six years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaBnIzY3R00

scott seward, Friday, 19 April 2013 01:26 (six years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcsUW_LBJlk

scott seward, Friday, 19 April 2013 01:44 (six years ago) link

I became a much bigger Ben Hecht fan when I got older. I like hearing jack when he was younger and funny and lucid. he was quick. maybe not as quick as old man Hecht though.

scott seward, Friday, 19 April 2013 01:46 (six years ago) link

that cover of the subterraneans is amazing, xpost.

authentically inauthentic (Pat Finn), Friday, 19 April 2013 03:15 (six years ago) link

i'm not sure how to articulate this but i like the lack of restraint, especially when read against the literary landscape of the time or whatever, the lack of restraint in putting things down in writing, and not just exciting stuff like getting your dick sucked but grocery list daily life bullshit that sort of makes legit and worthy those everyday, ugly things.

if i have to read kerouac, i've always liked dharma bums because it seems slow and nothing happens and even the parties seem pretty dull and it takes ages for the most mundane things to transpire and the overearnest depictions of ray thinking about buddhism are pleasantly ridiculous.

i like late burroughs, cities of the red night especially. but i like a lot of burroughs.

i sort of like gary snyder and rexroth but i do have trouble taking them seriously. it's interesting as someone interested in chinese literature and semi-interested in greater east asian literature to see how guys like snyder/rexroth approached it and it's fun to be frustrated by their misuses and misunderstandings of it.

dylannn, Friday, 19 April 2013 07:35 (six years ago) link

not strictly a beat, but does anybody read terry southern any more? there's a great bit in the victor bockris bunker bk where southern and william s burroughs try out a grabbag of pharmaceutical drugs, just two crazy old hipster addicts hanging out.

Ward Fowler, Friday, 19 April 2013 07:46 (six years ago) link

i like the lack of restraint, especially when read against the literary landscape of the time or whatever, the lack of restraint in putting things down in writing

i feel you on this, and i disagree with Alfred's all these guys spoiled two generations of kids into thinking revision, meter, and rhymes were restrictions, man. because yeah, there's a lot of beat stuff i don't want to read (again) but i'm glad that that style is an option, that there's a corrective to mannered, "tasteful", writing-class prissiness which has its own virtues too but shd never ever be the only game in town

Sarushima baby jive (Noodle Vague), Friday, 19 April 2013 09:03 (six years ago) link

feel like the 'two generations of kids' bit is giving them too much credit tbh

the bitcoin comic (thomp), Friday, 19 April 2013 09:07 (six years ago) link

not strictly a beat, but does anybody read terry southern any more?

i read 'candy' and 'the magic christian' a few years ago and loved them both. feels like a type of humor that's all but disappeared -- both of them read a little like lenny bruce-style put-ons stretched out to novel length.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 19 April 2013 18:43 (six years ago) link

five years pass...

bless him

kolarov spring (NickB), Friday, 8 March 2019 14:19 (four months ago) link


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