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Gasoline & The Vestal Lady on Brattle

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,254 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Gregory Corso was born on March 26, 1930 in New York City. His first book of poetry was published by City Lights Press in 1955.
Paperback, 105 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by City Lights (first published 1955)
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,254 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
A good collection from one of the more undervalued Beat poets. Corso has strong merits, but his work comes across as darker and more pessimistic than others, and does not speak to me in the way that Ferlinghetti does or (to a lesser extent) Ginsberg. Much as "Howl" was in many ways Ginsberg's defining poem, "Bomb" (not contained in this collection) was that for Corso. The other poems in this collection do not come close to that masterpiece, though they still have their relative strengths. Among ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wow and I say again wow. One of the best collections of modern surreal poetry I have EVER read. Already very impressed with Corso's first book of poetry, The Vestal Lady on Brattle, Gasoline showcases Corso's explosive growth as a poet. This book features some of his well-known poems like 'Mad Yak' and 'I am 25' and 'Last Night I Drove a Car' which Corso himself called a 'weirdo' poem. (Listen to 'The Three Angels' CD in which you can hear Corso, Orlovsky and Ginsberg read some of the favorite o ...more
Paul Stubbs
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
It seems an almost well accepted fact that more than fifty years on from when it was first published in 1958, Gasoline (City Lights, 1958) by Beat poet Gregory Corso is a seminal book in the birth of that particular literary generation. Yet today, when compared to Burroughs, Ginsberg, Kerouac, the other major Beat writers, his work is still relatively ignored, and while their books can be found in large amounts in most British and American bookshops, Corso is still almost untraceable. And actual ...more
Erika B. (SOS BOOKS)
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Thus begins my sojourn into the life and poetry of Gregory Corso. He and I will be pretty tight all the way until May (thank you college). Good thing there is something about his words that really draws me into his verses. He's my "Urban Shelley." One reviewer on here called him the Ringo Star of the Beats, to which I totally and completely agree. Two favorite poems from this work-

I Am 25

With a love a madness for Shelley
Chatterton Rimbaud
and the needy-yap of my youth
has gone from ear to ear:
Jun 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Corso is probably the least well-known of the Beat writers. More people know of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs. However, Corso, in many ways, is a more finessed and nuanced poet. He has a deeper artistic background than any of the above-named gents, and his knowledge of the great poets of the past (and the great painters as well) informs his word choice and metaphors. He can be more abstract and more flowing than his contemporaries, and yet he can turn on a dime to write something so simplistic ...more
May 02, 2012 rated it liked it
I'd only read a couple of Corso's poems before this book, and I expected to like it much better than I did. The pluses: playfulness, bizarre hilarity, surreal and vivid imagery, spontaneity. The minuses: a lack of focus overall, a consistent tone of self-importance that intruded on a lot of the better poetry, what felt like sloppy, unedited pieces in some places, and a feeling of "whatever, this is jazz so I can be obscure". I especially liked "Puma in Chapultepec Zoo", "For Miles", "The Horse W ...more
Jan 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Well, 3 and a half. These are really early Corso poems, from 1955 and '58 respectively. The good ones are really good, he gets up in the air and does his thing. The rest are just crap, particularly plagued by the cheesy rhyme (the horror!). Well, there are a few that are just okay, I don't mean to exaggerate. I don't know. I kind of hoped that this book would be awesome like, "Before he started to believe his own blurbs he was really good," but not really. More like: before he started to believe ...more
Eric Simmons
Jul 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
I personally am not a fan of poetry, but I have had some success in the past with some poets. Corso is not one of them. Actually Beat Poetry or even just the Literature can be a bit of a hit or a miss with me. More often it's a miss, but it's good to try something different. Most poets have at least a couple of poems that I liked, but not so here. Not only did I not like them, I never really understood what the hell he was talking about. It just seemed like an endless rambling of weird combinati ...more
James Carmichael
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Corso is the Ringo of the Beats, if Ringo had the songwriting chops of George Harrison. His poems are odd and frequently disarming in their charming openness - I really enjoyed reading this slim volume.
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Read one these poems to a speech class at UW, my first attempt at college education. Other students and professor hadn't ever heard anything like this. I was on a permanent real and contact high for these years/
Adrian Manning
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent early beat and city lights poetry from a formative poet in the genre who is often criminally neglected when the beats are discussed.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
These two early Corso books are quite lively.
Joe Wright
All in all this was better than the Kerouac book of poems I read recently. I love Kerouac but I think I prefer this Corso’s collection of poems over that one (Scattered Poems). I can see myself rereading this at some point.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
I’ve never read any beat poetry that I can say was any good. This one falls into that category. Total fucking trash. Another book on the heaping pile of the pretentious, that I’d love nothing more than to set aflame to.
Brendan Booth
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it
gasoline was great; the vestal lady on brattle was meh
Charles Mitchell
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Corso excellence
Lex Smith
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gregory Corso, also known as the only Beatnik who was even a little bit valid.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
An interesting collection of poems that didn't really resonate with me. Some intriguing imagery and ideas, but overall I couldn't get deeply engaged with the two collections contained in this volume.
Corso is one artist that I think needs more attention and love. While films like Kill Your Darlings have brought more notoriety to Beat figures such as Lucien Carr, Corso, one of the major players of the Beat scene has been ignored.
Note: the back cover of Gasoline has quotes of praise from Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Kerouac. Talk about the best backup ever, right?

Gasoline and the following collection grouped with it, The Vestal Lady On Brattle, show Corso growing as a poet. Gasoline being the la
Oct 27, 2014 added it
Shelves: beat-poets
The back cover features praise from Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Kerouac. Ginsberg wrote the Introduction, which concludes thusly: "He's probably the greatest poet in America, and he's starving in Europe."

"D. Scarlatti" and "Birthplace Revisited" stand out from the first section (Gasoline).

In the Mexican zoo / they have ordinary / American cows. - "Mexican Impressions"

The Introduction to the second section, The Vestal Lady On Brattle, was written by P.L.B. I have no idea who this person was. An in
James Badger
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dangerous Book #3 - This book has always been, and will always be an enigma. Even if I read it with a dictionary and encyclopedia in hand, I always feel that Corso is speaking on a level much too deep for me to completely understand. If Ferlinghetti is the wordsmith, and Ginsberg is the madman, Corso is the artist.

There are poems within this book which I read in high school and struggled to understand. I am slightly better at divining their meaning now, but their depth and breadth open them up t
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Here is a poem I really enjoyed from this collection, called "Hello..".

It is disastrous to be a wounded deer.
I'm the most wounded, wolves stalk,
and I have my failures, too.
My flesh is caught on the Inevitable Hook!
As a child I saw many things I did not want to be.
Am I the person I did not want to be?
That talks-to-himself person?
That neighbors-make-fun-of person?
Am I he who, on museum steps, sleeps on his side?
Do I wear the cloth of a man who has failed?
Am I the looney man?
In the great serenade o
Donald Armfield
Beatnik fans will dig. Two separate collections "Gasoline" was a little more to my liking. The second part "The Vestal Lady" has more of the WTF did I just read moments?

-Amnesia in Memphis
-Mexican Impression
-I Miss My Dear Cats
-To a Downfallen Rose
-This Was My Meal

The Vestal Lady On Brattle
-Dementia in an African Apartment House
-The Shakedown
-The Crime

heel grabber
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, beat
When I was young a lot of people gave me really shitty reading suggestions.

I really thought literature was the most obnoxious bullshit when I was sixteen.

Eventually, I guess my mind changed.

Somewhere early in that process I was kind of forced to take a copy of Gasoline.

Corso is a great poet to read when you are really sick of reading poetry.
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Corso is a wizard of language. He has a way of blurring his objects and intentions in ways that stir questions without provoking confusion.

He is one of the shining stars of the Beats but has gotten hardly any of the spotlight he deserves. this little book is a great read and i agree with GInsberg who said you should open it "like a box of crazy toys."
playful and brashly erudite and revealing a great need for appreciation, this poet.

the poem 'Marriage' remains one of my favorites oh, it's gotta be ten years since I first starting waiting for my "egyptian lover"
Christy Stewart
Apr 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I'm not going to wax poetic about this book, but I enjoyed it. It had a bizarro aspect to it that I enjoyed. Mexicans sure were mentioned a lot. I guess Corso likes Mexicans.

...Wait, I think Corso is a Hispanic name. That might explain it.
Mar 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Corso has a rambling style that is great when it's short, but I think gets a little long winded when his poems go beyond the one page mark or so. Here, they rarely do, and there are some stand out poems in the book, but as a whole, I don't find it cohesive enough to warrent a much higher rating.
Very underrated poet, in his prime.

(Added years later)

But his prime was pretty short.
May 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
There are a few really good / really funny poems in here, but there's also a lot of sub-par stuff, too.
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Gregory Nunzio Corso was an American poet, youngest of the inner circle of Beat Generation writers (with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs).