Twenty years after its original publication and one hundred thousand copies later comes a reissued edition of the most comprehensive examination of the Beat movement--featuring a new preface and afterword by the author. Cook objectively analyzes this countercultural movement and its influences today.
Bruce Alexander Cook was an American journalist and author who also wrote under the pseudonym Bruce Alexander. He wrote historical fiction and nonfiction.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
Cook's first book was a nonfiction work, The Beat Generation, published in 1971. His first novel was Chicago-based Sex Life, in 1978.
He wrote four novels featuring Los Angeles detective Antonio "Chico" Cervantes under the name Bruce Cook and also a series of novels about the blind magistrate Sir John Fielding, the real-life founder of London's first police force, under the name Bruce Alexander, the last of which was published posthumously by his widow and writer John Shannon. Young Will: The Confessions of William Shakespeare was also published posthumously.
A great blend of literary analysis and journalistic investigation that manages to capture the importance of these writers, artists, and friends to their own generation and those who came after them. Cook interviews several of these writers himself, including Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg, and offers his insights not only on these figures as individuals but on their involvement and impact on the counterculture of the 50's, 60's, and 70's. What's especially fascinating is that when Cook first published this book in the 1970's, there was little written about the Beats and they were almost all but forgotten. Worth a read whether or not you are already familiar with the Beat Generation.
Bruce Cook, al igual que muchos de los jóvenes estadounidenses que regresaron a casa después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, fue testigo de la aparición y asenso de la generación beat.
La obra de Cook analiza y presenta cómo este movimiento no fue la alocada ola de inconformidad atacada por la crítica, y que incluso su aparición era necesaria en la cultura de los Estados Unidos. En momentos hay entrevistas y conversaciones que valen mucho la pena, como con un Ginsberg a favor de la legalización de las drogas o un Kerouac recluido en el anonimato, años antes de su muerte. Cook es testigo de varios sucesos que marcaron a esta generación, así como el surgimiento de los hippies, quiene heredaron la tradición beat y la llevaron a su fin.
Interesante que trate otros aspectos además de la biografía y obra literaria de los beats, ya que menciona la importancia de la música –en especial el rock–, y las drogas en este movimiento. También es importante mencionar que en todo su trabajo Cook muestra que la generación beat recibió un gran legado literario por parte de escritores clásicos como Twain, Pound, William Carlos Williams e incluso Hemingway.
Lástima que no haya una edición posterior, ya que Cook se queda estancado en lo que que varias fuentes se dedicaron a explotar.
“Beat, in the sense of beaten, frustrated, played out...”
The reading at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, “Howl”, “Go”, Neal, and “On the Road” - the Beat Generation! It's all in here, including interviews with some of the main players. Not a lot of new information for me, but a good overview. It reads more like a college text than anything else, and at times, I felt it was a bit dry. But it does contain some gems like:
“And if Allen Ginsberg was the Beat Generation’s Walt Whitman, then Gary Snyder was its Henry David Thoreau.” - I never made that connection, but I think it’s right on!
Anyway, it was an ok read, and if you are new to the topic, it might be even better than that. I will say, though this has nothing to do with the writing, I was surprised that there were no photographs! I think it's the first book about the Beats that I've ever read without them! A bit strange in their absence…
Part research, part general interest. I picked this up at a used bookstore in Nashville. Loved this deep dive into the Beats from a late 60s/early 70s perspective--without 50 years for further analysis in between. I also dig that Cook (who died in 2003) was able to talk with the writers themselves before many of them left us. I also appreciated his real talk about Woodstock beneath the myth that it became as he made his final connections between the Beats and the Hippies. Good stuff!