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The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs and Corso in Paris, 1957-1963
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The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs and Corso in Paris, 1957-1963

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  563 ratings  ·  35 reviews
The Beat Hotel is a delightful chronicle of a remarkable moment in American literary history. From the Howl obscenity trial to the invention of the cut-up technique, Barry Miles's extraordinary narrative chronicles the feast of ideas that was Paris, where the Beats took awestruck audiences with Duchamp and Celine, and where some of their most important work came to fruitio ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 27th 2001 by Grove Press (first published June 7th 2000)
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Nov 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
The one thing that stuck me as weird about this book is that Burroughs, Ginsberg, Corso, and others didn't really mixed in with the French artists/writers of that same period. I mean Camus, Vian, Sartre, Cocteau, were all there - yet the Beats kept to themselves. It sort of turns me off on them. A typical American behavior to move anywhere in the world and it's still America. Which is ironic with respect to the Beats..

But saying that I think Miles got the voices and times down in this biography
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have been wanting to buy Barry Miles's "The Beat Hotel" for several years, but every copy I've found in bookstores has had a split or a binding problem serious enough that I wouldn't add the copy to my collection. But I still wanted to read the book, and came across it recently in the public library.

"The Beat Hotel" was a filthy, seedy, run-down hotel on Paris's Left Bank that was operated by an old woman who enjoyed the company of writers, artists, and other creative types, and who wasn't bot
Sep 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I don't know much about the Beat writers so this was interesting to see one of their most creative periods. I wish there was a little more analysis of their actual work but there was a lot about the process of cut up in writing and in picture making. That was interesting.
robin friedman
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
American Bohemians In Paris

Barry Miles' book, "The Beat Hotel" explores the American beat movement during a time in which most of its major representatives, (with the exception of Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder) were in Paris at a cheap, nameless hotel located at Rue Git-Le-Coeur, and managed by one Madame Rachon. The hotel was cheap and unsanitary. As long as the guests paid their bills, Madame Rachon allowed them a broad range of freedom in their eccentric lifestyles. The beat hotel was home to
David Corvine
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it
As I had previously read around this subject quite extensively, including the Burroughs and Ginsberg biographies by the same author, it is difficult for me to judge it as a stand alone work. I think it would probably be a good introduction for someone new to this subject. I have reservations regarding non-homosexuals writing about our lives from their perspective. It's quite simple... they have a different frame of reference regarding relationships and casual sex.
GK Stritch
Nov 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Informative bio on Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris at 9 rue Git-le-Coeur, 1957-1963, productive years, work. experimentation, and fun and fights with all types including Euro literati and society. Cameos by fascinating companions and other writers and artists who passed through. (Seems the author is not particularly fond of Jack.)
Caeser Pink
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I found this book to be quite interesting. It gave me a much better understanding of what a creative force William Burroughs was. It also introduced me to a lot of artists I had never heard of before. It had some nice in-depth explanations of the techniques used and developed by the Beats: Cut-Ups, scrying, Dream Machines.
Dec 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book until Allen Ginsberg left the hotel and it was about William Burroughs and the cut up technique. I felt like every single sentence included "cut-up technique" from the time Ginsberg left until the end of the book. I like reading about authors' relationships with each other.
Dana Torrente
Great read. Reads very much like a research text that expands on the Beats time in Paris and just how quintessential the beat hotel was. At times this can jump around a bit, but overall it provides some killer inspiration on the interaction between all the beats outside of their normal NYC or San Fran contexts. This is a definite lead in to reading Naked Lunch or Howl both of which were written during these periods.
Peggy Gordon
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
I learned a lot about the authors that I admire. I am fascinated with The Beat Writers. I really enjoyed this book!
nadia | notabookshelf
read this book a couple years ago, and it was brilliant and i've been thinking about rereading it for a long while. in english this time, of course. i just have to get a copy.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best hotel: gensberg,Burroughs and corso I paris,1957-91963
Matthew Turnbull
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting "documentary". I think I would have hated to be anywhere near these guys at the time!!
Scott Holstad
Excellent! Barry Miles always writes high quality material and what a topic, what subject matter? Truly original stuff and highly recommended.
Masha Maltseva
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
love reading biographies of trashy and talented people and this one is really a good one, have to check other books by barry miles. i also loved the idea to cover a specific period in their lives when they lived in paris in beat hotel and tell about the people involved from this point of view.
it was weird to realize that beatnicks being in paris never met and worked with great frenchies of that time: camus, sartre, surrealists.
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it
By the end of this book I had become weary of this group of reprobates although fascinated with the ingenious ways they made ends meet during their time in Paris and elsewhere. How William Burroughs survived until his '80s in an almost permanent drug haze is incredible and I was left in no doubt about his genius. As for most of the others, it is not surprising that they are less well known. Poor Gregory Corso, a pitiful figure, is cast as a tragic clown in the episode where he buys a white Alpac ...more
May 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry, memoir
I am the same age that Ginsberg was during the time that this book is set. He was living in Paris' Left Bank, coming off a huge success with Howl, surrounded by writers and artists, having sex with everyone, doing all kinds of drugs and getting up to all kinds of hijinks. Well and what have I done???

Full of bits of trivia, particularly on Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs, that probably wouldn't be NEW new to anyone that's read other biographies but most of it was NEW new to me. Burroughs l
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
An anemic account of American Beat writers living the bohemian life in a hellhole hotel in Paris. Many of the anecdotes described fall flat and lack meaning or interest. The first half of the book follows the silly sybaritic antics of Ginsberg and Corso, fulfilling the ugly american stereotype by being obnoxious and crude in front of Parisian elite and insuling established French artists. This section reveals them to be just goofy unsupervised children who just happen to be heroin addicts a
D.B. Pacini
May 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A piece I wrote about Jack Kerouac was recently published in Blue Moon Literary & Art Review, an up and coming Davis, California journal you should check out. After a reading event, a Kerouac fan gave me a copy of THE BEAT HOTEL by Barry Miles. Read this book if you have interest in the Beats, especially their intense relationships with their contemporaries. Some of the material is a retelling of accounts, much will add to your knowledge about these multifaceted writers. Barry Miles has studied ...more
David Rullo
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
This is really the story of William Burroughs, Brion Gysin and the development of the cut up technique. Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso certainly exist on the fringes but that's really all. Obstensibly this is the story of the Beat Hotel and the period when as many Beat Writers as artists from all schools and disciplines syayed there. A good book that documents an important time of growth for Burroughs.
Rachel Matsuoka
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book really brought the beat authors to life for me. It explained in kind of a nonfiction novel-like format their relationships with each other, their quirks and personalities, and the behind-the-scenes influences for their famous (and lesser-known) works of writing. You leave with a very good idea of each individual occupant of hotel at 9 Rue Git-Le-Coeur, and perhaps inspired by their dedication to their art and poetry.
Fred Sampson
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
As much an exposition of the literary output of the residents as it is a chronology of their adventures, The Beat Hotel provides real insights into some classic Beat literature. Especially interesting are the various techniques Burroughs employed while creating Naked Lunch, and his cut-up techniques. Goes into much more depth than the film. Enjoyable both for the characters involved and for life in Paris late '50s.
May 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, beats
Worth reading if the topic is of interest. It is fairly straightforward and is the correct length for the subject manner.

I did seem some passages that I believe appeared nearly verbatim in Miles's biography of Burroughs. I don't know if that is laziness, an accident, or a sly homage to Burroughs, who would have appreciated such a thing.

Jun 13, 2008 added it
I don't know much about the "French years" of the Beat Generation. I have read, On the Road, and Howl, although it was some time ago. I now want to read Burroughs and Corso, whom I had never before heard of. ...more
Aaron Novak
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
An indispensable read for anyone researching or simply reading about the Beat Generation. Thoroughly researched, both gossipy and scholarly, and a fun read. One have been a five-star review if it had been more thoroughly edited (i.e I don't need a full explanation of what yage is four times over). Highly recommended.
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Well written book, gives you details that are hilarious like allen and gregory's routine of kissing the feet or knees of renowned artists and writers they meet. Bill becomes more inhuman, Allen develops the lovebrain with Peter, Gregory lives his version of a romantic poet with vagabond posturing and rich women hustling, Brion makes the dreamachine and gives Bill the idea for the cut-up
Anastasiia Horova
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: beatnik
Incredibly interesting insight in life of the greatest authors of Beat Generation - Allen Ginsberg, Bill Burroughs, Gregory Corso and Jack Kerouac. It includes sketches from love life, spiritual quests, experimentation with psychedelic drugs and of course stories about how their masterpieces were written.

P.S. I still wonder why Burroughs cut off his little finger...
Diana Fay
May 26, 2015 rated it liked it
A decent book for established fans of the Beats. If you are new to Ginsberg Burroughs etc I would recommend starting with the biographies by Bill Morgan and Barry Miles. The last few chapters after Ginsberg's departure were painful. It's a shame G B and Corso were so self absorbed and didn't engage in the French literary scene of the mid to late 50s!
Sep 17, 2007 rated it liked it
I love trashy biographies of writers. Seriously, if booksellers made a section purely for trashy literary bios I'd read through it in a week. This one dulls out after Ginsberg leaves, but in that way I suppose it mirrors life. Good trash for the first half, though.
Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bright-sparks
A thoroughly entertaining read with a rich cast of (real-life) characters - the later period with William Burroughs and Brion Gysin experimenting with cut-ups and the like is particularly fascinating and inspiring
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Author of several books and biographies, most pertaining to musicians and the sixties.

Miles has written biographies of Paul McCartney, The Beatles, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Frank Zappa, Charles Bukowski and Allen Ginsberg, in addition to books on John Lennon, The Beatles and The Clash.

He is occasionally inaccurately credited as "Miles Mabbett" due to his co-authoring a book with Andy Mabb

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