BOHEMIA by Herbert Gold

BOHEMIA

Where Art, Angst, Love, and Strong Coffee Meet
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Novelist/essayist and professional bohemian Gold (Travels in San Francisco, 1989, etc.) surveys the past three or four decades of his wandering years. It's hard to know whom Gold has in mind as readers for this trip through the echoes of the Beat generation in San Francisco, the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village, the Left Bank and Montmartre, Haiti, Israel, Morocco, and like places where the penniless robe themselves in the dignity of their art. His water- spider prose skims over faces and cafes so swiftly that few register for longer than the glimpse allowed. Gold writes well, paragraph by paragraph, but repeats himself chapter by chapter until once lively statements, quotations, or metaphors get weather- beaten and the mind frazzles with the suspicion that he has nothing to say but is saying it brilliantly. Like a be-bopper working scales, Gold pads and jazzes every page with flurries of notes without feeling and with so little melody or anecdote that the storytelling seems only ten percent, the excelsior ninety. The appeal here is to homecoming--once more having our knee felt up by Jean Genet as he asks, ``Do you masturbate?''; having Gregory Corso reach for a cafe check he has no intention of paying; having William Burroughs prepare a salad while pulling together the first pages of Naked Lunch; having Katherine Ross borrow the car and return it months later with a glove compartment full of unpaid parking tickets; and, in former Clevelander Gold's chosen home of San Francisco, visiting once again the City Lights Bookstore, Vesuvio's, North Beach, the Mission District, the Haight, and the alley named after Jack Kerouac. But it all reads as if recycled from magazine and Sunday newspaper space-fillers that Gold enjoyed writing for his expenses and now can't bear to render up to darkness unwrapped in hard covers. Two cheers for chat, one for content.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-76781-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993




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