Friday, September 21, 2018

Curation #145 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Typewriter is Holy: The Complete Uncensored History of the Beat Generation by Bill Morgan




Item #145 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 2010 Free Press 1st printing of Bill Morgan's The Complete Uncensored History of the Beat Generation. 291 pages, it measures about 6.5" x 9.5" and is in very good condition. The provenance is uncertain but it may have been a gift (purchased from my Amazon Wishlist).

Bill Morgan has written more than a dozen books about the Beat writers and may be best known as Allen Ginsberg's biographer. While Morgan's title over-reaches a bit (it is impossible to present a complete history of the Beat Generation in 291 pages), Morgan does a good job at narrating "the history of these writers primarily as a social group of friends" (inside dust jacket). Primarily focusing, of course, on Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs (along with Cassady, Carr, and others), as one would expect, Ginsberg comes across as the primary force in the movement from a literary/business perspective.

If you are a casual reader of this blog and have holes in your understanding of the Beat Generation, this is a good place to start. It definitely belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf.







Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (9th from the left that you can see in the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Whole Shot: Collected Interviews with Gregory Corso edited by Rick Schober.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Curation #144 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac, The Word and the Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual Quester by Ben Giamo



Item #144 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 2000 Southern Illinois University Press first printing of Kerouac, The Word and the Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual Quester by Ben Giamo. 246 pages, it measures about 5-3/4" x 9" and is in very good condition. I don't remember the provenance but I suspect I purchased it used via Amazon. "M.V. Standerfer" is handwritten in ink on the inside front cover.

Giamo is an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame, so he has credibility when it comes to writing a book about Kerouac as "spiritual quester." I found this an academic and yet compelling read. Plus, how can you argue with a book that spends a whole chapter exploring what IT is?* Or that uses Jack's painting, "Old Angel Midnight," as the cover?

You won't get any arguments from me that Kerouac was a religious writer, so Giamo's thesis -- "to chronicle and clarify the various spiritual quests undertaken by Kerouac -- as revealed by his novelistic writings" (p. xix)-- makes sense to me from the outset and Giamo supports his thesis via careful analysis of both Kerouac's fiction and his letters.

This definitely belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf.


*If you aren't familiar with IT, I suggest you read or re-read On the Road right away.






Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (8th from the left that you can see in the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Typewriter is Holy: The Complete Uncensored History of the Beat Generation by Bill Morgan.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Curation #143 from my Kerouac bookshelf: A Life of Herbert Huncke, American Hipster: The Times Square Hustle Who Inspired the Beat Movement by Hilary Holladay



Item #143 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 2013 Magnus Books (no printing number) edition of A Life of Herbert Huncke, American Hipster: The Times Square Hustler Who Inspired the Beat Movement. There's no comma in the title -- I put that there for lack of a better option. The cover title appears exactly the same way on the title page. I suppose I could use two colons, but that looks weird to me, as does running the first two lines together without punctuation. There's probably a right way but I am not going to lose sleep over it. 374 pages, this copy measures about 5-1/4" x 8-1/8" and is in very good condition. I have forgotten the provenance but it likely came from Amazon.

Herbert Huncke was a significant figure among the Beat Generation writers but gets much less written about him than the core triumvirate of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs (not to mention Lucien Carr and his too-often unsung role). Hence, this biography is a significant contribution to the story of the Beats. Author Holladay, a Ph.D., is an American literature scholar with several books to her credit and has taught at James Madison University and UMass Lowell. At the latter institution she was the founding director of the Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for American Studies (which I assume is now called the Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for the Public Humanities).

With those credentials, it is no surprise that this is an informative and well-written biography. I found it especially satisfying because it dealt with a subject I know a lot about but presented much information that was new to me about the life of Herbert Huncke. You may already know that Huncke is the Times Square hustler from whom Kerouac likely got the term "beat," but did you know about his interactions with sex researcher Alfred C. Kinsey, his time as a galley worker on a ship, his autobiography (Guilty of Everything: The Autobiography of Herbert Huncke), or that he loved cats?

You'll learn all that and more in Holladay's wonderful book, one that deserves a spot on your Kerouac bookshelf.






Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (7th from the left that you can see in the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Kerouac, the Word and the Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual Quester by Ben Giamo.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Monday, September 17, 2018

Trickster Feminism by Anne Waldman: A Review



Recently published by Penguin Books, Anne Waldman's Trickster Feminism consists of 17 poems across its 141 pages. The back cover blurb is intriguing:
Mythopoetics, shape-shifting, quantum entanglement, Anthropocene blues litany, and chance operation play inside the field of these intertwined poems, which coalesced out of months of protests with some texts penned in the streets. Anne Waldman looks to the imagination of mercurial possibility, to the spirits of the doorway and of crossroads, and to language that jolts the status quo of how one troubles gender and outwits patriarchy. She summons tarot's Force Arcana, the passion of the suffragettes, and various messengers and heroines of historical, hermetic, and heretical stance, creating and intersectionality of live experience: class, sexuality, race, politics all enter the din. These are experiments of survival.
As I undertook to read this collection, that blurb weighed on my mind. When I have to look up words from the back cover blurb, it causes me to assume that the book's content will be inaccessible to someone of average intelligence such as I. And my concerns weren't unfounded. A dictionary was necessary throughout (to look up words like sciamachy, chthonic, crenellated, and crepuscular); yet, while I did find Waldman's poetry difficult to access, there was a message coming through about speaking to power from a feminist perspective -- in particular, a trickster feminist perspective. That is, a perspective that is unpredictable, cagey, even deceitful when in service to truth and righteous protest. I know that last part doesn't make sense, but it was "first thought" so I'll leave it (as "best thought").

Waldman experiments with forms. There is prose poetry, and what reads as almost a call-and-response chant. If you've heard her perform her poetry, you can hear her fiery voice behind the words. In Marcella Durand's review of the book (click here), she discusses Waldman's use of the descort, wherein each line of a poem is unlike the others. Much of Waldman's work in this book strikes me that way -- almost evoking Kerouac and a stream-of-consciousness approach where one line doesn't obviously connect to the lines before or after it. Durand also mentions Waldman's use of the term dithyramb, which befits her high-soaring and fervent style (it means a passionate or inflated speech, poem, or other writing).

I wasn't sure how to read "strangling me with your lasso of stars." It almost seems like a "cleave poem," wherein the two columns of poetry can be read three ways: down the left column, down the right column, or across both columns and down. I doubt Waldman would lower her sights to such a ham-handed form, but she resonates with the trickster -- so who knows?

Page 91 includes a small-print set of questions (that follow the "cleave poem"), which include "What is the B.I.E. movement?/And who invented it?"/Who were the Silent Sentinels?/What was Gertrude Stein wrong about?" Some of these have clear answers and some do not. And perhaps that is the point. After all, as Waldman states in "melpomene," all binaries are in question.

In these uncertain times, Waldman evokes the trickster in all of us to come forth and help resist that which has been wrought by the powerful in society (and not just "the predator big guy who abuses women" (p. 28). While it takes some work to divine her message, it is one well worth pursuing.



You can buy Trickster Feminism directly from the publisher by clicking here.



Curation #142 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Pictures from the Gone World by Lawrence Ferlinghetti



Item #142 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 1955 copyright City Lights Books sixth printing edition of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Pictures of the Gone World. 21 pages, it measures about 4-3/4" x 6-1/8" and is in good condition. I don't remember the provenance but I did find a Radison keycard holder tucked in the back with notes from a Lowell Celebrates Kerouac written on it. That probably means Crystal took it to read from at Jack's grave, so it's unlikely a provenance clue. I seem to remember her doing that, and I've only read from Jack's work at his grave.

These are early poems by the co-founder of the acclaimed City Lights Books in San Francisco, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Ferlinghetti needs no introduction to regular readers of The Daily Beat. He published and promoted the Beat writers, it was his cabin that Jack took refuge in and as a result wrote Big Sur, and so on. He is a towering figure in the Beat story. Ferlinghetti turned 99 years old on March 19, and he published a new novel this year.

As for Pictures of the Gone World, it consists of 27 fairly short poems, each one given a number as a title. There are no page numbers.

Ferlinghetti's poetry is accessible yet lyrical. My favorite line is from 5: "A POEM IS A MIRROR WALKING DOWN A STRANGE STREET." It is evident from this collection of poetry that Ferlinghetti has walked down some strange streets in his time.

This definitely belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf.





Or buy it directly from the publisher here.



Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (6th from the left that you can see in the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: A Life of Herbert Huncke, American Hipster: The Times Square Hustler Who Inspired the Beat Movement by Hilary Holladay.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Friday, September 14, 2018

Curation #141 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 by Louise Bogan



Item #141 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 1995 Farrar, Straus & Giroux second printing (1999) of The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 by Louise Bogan. 136 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I acquired it via Amazon.

It would take a true Kerouacophile to make the connection between this book's author, Louise Bogan, and Jack Kerouac. Without Googling, that is.

Here's the connection. You will recall that in Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, at Japhy's big going-away party, Rheinhold Cacoethes (real-life Kerouac-hater Kenneth Rexroth) is holding forth on current poets of the day. In his list is "Leontine McGee," who "says she's old" (Chapter 28). A little research (see Dave Moore's excellent Character Key to Kerouac's Duluoz Legend) will reveal that Leontine is real-life Louise Bogan, who hailed from Livermore Falls in my state of Maine. I used to supervise University of Maine at Farmington practicum students at the elementary school there. When I taught my Kerouac class at UMF, we used to read and analyze her poem, "Portrait," which relates to Cacoethes' comment.

Click here for biographical information on Louise as well as a couple of her poems. The Blue Estuaries was first published in 1968, and was the last volume of poetry published before her death in 1970. As this volume attests, Bogan was quite an accomplished poet.

If you believe in my Six Degrees of Jack Kerouac Theory, this book of poetry belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf.







Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (5th from the left that you can see in the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Pictures of the Gone World by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf




Thursday, September 13, 2018

Curation #140 from my Kerouac bookshelf: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey



Item #140 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 1962 Signet 59th printing of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. 272 pages, it measures about 4" x 7" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I acquired this in the first half of 2017 from either Amazon or Twice Sold Tales in Farmington, Maine.

If you are unclear of the Kerouac-Kesey connection, click here to read what I've said about it previously. Given the popularity of the excellent film adaptation, I doubt I need to summarize what this book is about. Hence, I don't have a lot to say about this book other than that it spurred me on to read Kesey's less well-known novel, Sometimes a Great Notion (which also got a Hollywood treatment).

Does a Kesey novel belong on your Kerouac bookshelf? Only if you buy into the Six Degrees of Jack Kerouac theory, which I obviously do; see this post and many subsequent posts on The Daily Beat -- you can find them all by Googling the following:
six degrees of jack kerouac site: https://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/

That's how you force Google to search a single website for a particular word or phrase. Pretty cool.





Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (upright just to the left of the pile - it got moved since the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 by Louise Bogan.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf