Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Curation #99 from my Kerouac bookshelf: William Carlos Williams by Thomas R. Whitaker (Twayne's U.S. Authors Series #143)

Item #99 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 1968 Twayne Publishers, Inc. (no printing number) edition of William Carlos Williams by Thomas R. Whitaker (Twayne's U.S. Author Series #143). 183 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8" and is in good condition. The dustjacket is missing. The provenance is that I bought it from Augusta, Maine's Lithgow Public Library at a "dollar-a-bag" book sale a couple of years ago.

This, like yesterday's curation, is a book I bought to read "some day." "Some day" hasn't arrived yet, but this is definitely a Kerouac-related read because Williams is mentioned by Jack in The Dharma Bums (as Doctor Musial):
"I guess the only real poets in the country, outside the orbit of this little backyard, are Doctor Musial, who's prob­ably muttering behind his living-room curtains right now, and Dee Sampson, who's too rich. That leaves us dear old Japhy here who's going away to Japan, and our wailing friend Goldbook and our Mr. Coughlin, who has a sharp tongue."
FYI, Dee Sampson represents Jay Loughlin, Japhy is Gary Snyder, Goldbook is Allen Ginsberg, and Coughlin is Philip Whalen (poets all).

The Beats respected Williams. According to Gerald Nicosia, Kerouac went with Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, and Gregory Corso to meet Williams in Rutherford, NJ in 1957.
The weary seventy-three-year-old doctor praised their writings, and when asked to impart some wisdom, pointed out the window with a smile and said, "There's a lot of bastards out there." (Memory Babe, p. 541)

As with my other Twayne book (on Denise Levertov), this is not a biography; instead, it is an in-depth analysis of Williams' work. As such, it can be pretty dry going. But it's on my Kerouac bookshelf and I still want to read it "some day."

Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (19th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg by Carolyn Cassady.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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