If, like editor and poet Waldman, you'd like to pretend the Beat Generation is an ""ongoing literary avant garde"" (rather...

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THE BEAT BOOK: Poems and Fiction from the Beat Generation

If, like editor and poet Waldman, you'd like to pretend the Beat Generation is an ""ongoing literary avant garde"" (rather than a historic phenomenon), then you might enjoy this quirky little anthology. All the major figures--Burroughs, Kerouac, Corso, Ginsberg--are represented, though in Ginsberg's case with less well-known parts of his most famous poems (e.g., part II of Howl). In a gesture to these gendered and raceconscious times, Waldman includes minor poets Lenore Kandel, Joanne Kyger, and Bob Kaufman; the biographical headnotes, meanwhile, chronicle friendships, and illustrates the mutual admiration society aspect of the Beats. Waldman attends to the near-mythic anecdotes, as well as to each figure's relationship to Buddhism. Ginsberg's wiggy scholarly foreword on the meaning of ""beat"" manages to include quotations from himself, while Waldman's lackluster introduction--citing the ""unique"" ""life styles"" of the Beats--confirms the notion that this still-popular group of writers was more significant as sociology than literature. A silly guide to ""Beat Places"" further distinguishes this odd volume from the more canonical anthology by Ann Charters, The Portable Beat Reader (1992).

Pub Date: March 1, 1996

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Shambhala

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996