Item #126 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 1998 Penguin Books 6th printing of Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diane di Prima. 194 pages, it measures about 5" x 7-3/4" and is in good condition. The provenance is likely that I acquired it via Amazon. You're welcome, Mr. Bezos.
Memoirs of a Beatnik was first published in 1969, more than a decade after the times it was written about. Diane di Prima, while an A-lister among female Beat writers, admitted that this book was written to pay the bills, and so it is full of graphic sex at the request of the editor (and, of course, the title uses the media-driven term that real Beats eschewed). The book starts with a rousing morning sex scene in the West Village. I really wanted to quote the section on p. 9, but I'm afraid I'd get in trouble with Blogger because of the explicit language.
The book is fiction based on actual experiences, so the group sex scene with Kerouac and Ginsberg may or may not have happened at all or like it is described. I will leave feminist critiques to others, but I found Memoirs of a Beatnik very interesting as well as titillating (yes, it made me horny). My memory is that I read it on one sitting.
If you want everything written by or about Jack Kerouac on your Kerouac bookshelf, this book is essential. If you're looking for a steamy first-person semi-autobiographical Beat novel, this fits the bill. If you're looking for good examples of the works of female Beat writers, this shouldn't be your first choice.
Below is a picture of Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (20th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Poetry Deal by Diane di Prima.
|Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf|