Title: The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats The Beat Generation and American Culture
Editor: Holly George Warren
Year Published: 1999 (Hyperion)
Year Purchased: 2000/2001
Source: Barnes & Noble clearance rack
About: Whether the Rolling Stone moniker entices or repels you, this is a fine compilation of essays, musings, reviews and treatises on The Beat Generation and its various, and fantastically varied, players. Although many of the entries were written expressly for this book, others are from Rolling Stone’s archives or from outside sources. Lydia Lunch, Hunter S. Thompson, Graham Parker, Johnny Depp, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, and Lester Bangs number among the crazy quilt of contributors. The insiders’ perspective is voiced by Michael McClure, Joyce Johnson, Hettie Jones, Carolyn Cassady and William S Burroughs. The cacophony of opinions, insights and viewpoints is bold and often contradictory, which should be the intent of any decent compilation. The entirety of the beat experience is presented in vivid, emotive, intelligent terms. Each entry is a micro world of its own, quite unlike any of the others. The photos are notable, and many are rare. If you have any interest in the subject-which really encompasses many subjects loosely gathered under a too-small banner-make this part of your to-read list.
Motivation: I have a long, deep shelf dedicated to the writers and miscellaneous participants of The Beat Generation. This was one of the earliest non-fiction additions to my collection.
Times Read: 3
Random Excerpt/Page 85: “Bob Kaufman and John Wieners are the greatest of the nonsense Beat poets, whatever that means-the social second unit?-people who didn’t spend scads of time with the frontrunners. They’re also two supreme sufferers, and Kaufman, in particular, swallowed more broken glass than all the others combined.”