GENESIS ANGELS: The Saga of Lew Welch and the Beat Generation by Aram Saroyan

GENESIS ANGELS: The Saga of Lew Welch and the Beat Generation

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Pseudo-bohemian effusions, with sidelights on the Beats, as Aram Saroyan plays in the stream of another poet's consciousness where ""the sound of one hand clapping is the sound of two hands clapping because that is the sound of one hand clapping."" Lew Welch, father-starved and ""reeling to get real,"" hatches in California, spends a chapter at Reed and a page in N.Y. and a paragraph in Florida, then breaks down in Chicago, patches up (psychoanalysis), and heads back west aboard the Beat bandwagon. It's Saroyan who's transported--by a vision of Welch as a poet/martyr who gives up his right to an American dream and dares to get in touch with the realities of Being. Coming up with ""life-death"" as the quintessential yin-yang of Being, Saroyan heralds Welch's suicide elegiacally: ""And Lew dying, then, with a kind of perfection and splendor that was in advance of the studies of the subject now in currency."" His immortal exit (""the home run"") is the final poem, ""Song of the Turkey Buzzard,"" and poet Saroyan sees Welch and the vulture as one. So when Welch takes to the woods with his rifle in 1971 -- his remains never to be found--an epiphany is in prospect: ""Lew was looking forward with apparent joy to re-entering the Food Chain from a new angle. . . . "" Chapters on Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, et al. alternate with the Welch affair and stretch it to book length--but leave one wondering, still, whether Saroyan's for real.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow