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Reality Sandwiches

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,623 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
"Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages for yr own joy." Many of Ginsberg's most famous poems.

Wake-up nightmares in Lower East Side, musings in public library, across the U.S. in dream auto, drunk in old Havana, brooding in Mayan ruins, sex daydreams on the West Coast, airplane vision of Kansas, lonely in a leafy cottage, lunch hour on Berkeley, beer notati
Paperback, 104 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by City Lights (first published 1963)
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Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Only partly ashamed to say I stole this from a nameless London bookshop when I was about 17. I still love it.
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A naked lunch is natural to us, 
we eat reality sandwiches.
But allegories are so much lettuce.
Don’t hide the madness.
- On Burroughs' Work
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
I actually like this more than HOWL
brought this with me last weekend for three Pitchfork days
read this in the heat, in the shade, while sitting on a bag of water bottles waiting for Savages, The Breeders, then Belle & Sebastian
loved that these are nude minutes from 1953 to 1960
wondered what my nude minutes are
read "Tears" while sitting inside this concrete gothic window at Bond Chapel, feeling classical like a student again
everywhere is a visible place I can travel when I hear this language
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The universe is mad, slightly mad.
Greg Z
Oct 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Ginsberg awakes on October 4th, 1957 in Amsterdam and writes that he turns "back to sleep in my dark bed on earth." Then he is off to Paris where he writes "Squeal" which may be a miniature "Howl" written in San Francisco in 1955-56. Entrenched in Paris, he writes of various loves (physical or platonic, it's hard to tell sometimes) then reminisces "To Aunt Rose." In July of '58 he returns to the US, makes a trip to the dentist in "Laughing Gas" and ends this volume living in New York. I'm readin ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Ok so'Howl' and 'Kaddish' (I'm referring to both the individual poems and collections) were far superior to this one; Ginsberg's defintely done better. However, Reality Sandwiches is ,well, reality sandwiches. Each poem is a deeply personal work that takes you into the mind and life of Allen Ginsberg. Considering that this volume was made up of largely uncollected poems that spanded a great deal of time, the quality of the work is what could be called mildly eclectic, and certian pieces are sig ...more
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read this after watching Kill Your Darlings. Some are beautiful and others are a complete miss for me.
Michael Avery
Mar 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: music-and-poetry
Poetry is difficult but enjoyable. Ginsburg writes so autobiographical lyrics, and I am so familiar with his life story that it adds a dimension of fun to the reading. I am seeing a lot of variety in his poetry, and it's giving me an idea of what can be done.
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I was digging it until I got to the name dropping poems. Really man? Can your poems not stand on their own without dragging in your (more) famous friends? Read some of his other stuff. (Howl)
Dec 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
It was lost on me.
May 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Had its moments, but overall sorta felt real "ooh look how willfully outlandish I am" and irked me. Maybe I'm just not in the right place for Ginsberg right now. I remember enjoying Howl...
Tanya Petrova
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I feel like I'm not drugged or gay enough to fully appreciate this book. Although what does it have to do with anything?
My Alba and Blessed Be the Muses are my favourites.
Antonio Delgado
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Every word beats at the speed of our contemporary living experience.
James Badger
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ginsberg is great as usual, but he does engage in more self-serving jaunts in this book than he did in "Howl", and I can't say that I was able to follow them all.
Erin Kelly
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
The beats aren't my bag, but I loved TEARS and a few others.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked the poetry in this book. It is well written and simple, which is what I like about Ginsberg, however I read Howl and other poems first- before reading this- and I have to say I am/was a bit disappointed with these poems. The raw intensity and fearlessness that was presented and represented in Howl and the other collection of poetry- which was my first introduction to Ginsberg's work was not as present in these poems. There were phrases and word play that I liked with these writings, but ...more
Mar 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: waste-of-time, poetry
Some of my friends call me a hipster, because I wear horn-rimmed glasses and because I happen to enjoy offbeat culture. Reading this book made me realize that I am waaaaaay too mainstream to be a hipster.

Reading Reality Sandwiches was not an enjoyable experience for me. Most of the poems went over my head, and the ones I actually grasped did not appeal to me - Not even the piece about Burroughs.

What do Allen Ginsberg and Spinal Tap have in common ?
Two-word reviews (See spoiler). (You're more ma
Jack Hrkach
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I was a huge fan of the beat authors, though my favorite was not Ginsberg but Kerouac - in fact as a poet I liked Ferlinghetti better than Ginsberg. but some of his poems (obvious choices Howl, Kaddish, and the title poem in this collection, which includes the words "naked lunch" - they became the title of a novel by William Burroughs...

This is one of the pocket poetry series, published by Ferlinghetti - I had at least ten and kept them religiously even after I'd given away most of my books - th
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the first time I read a beat literature (erm, beat poem). At first I was thinking like "what the hay is this thing? Is this really a poetry at all?", yet then as I read further into the book, I could quite grasp what beat poem is (and how it feels like, you know, the beat stuff and all that). I was never really mad about beat culture in general, never even about the literature, but after this book I think I can quite enjoy it somehow (although it feels somewhat icky, don't ask me why hah ...more
Rogene Carter
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I tried desperately to like this book but couldn't help but deduce that these are the drug infused, manic, and often incomprehensible ramblings of a man so endowed with a mysterious mixture of privilege and self pity that I can barely read the words. There is a great effort to convey emotion but it seems contrived and idolizing of his friends which seems inauthentic and self promoting. A few poems were noteworthy but the entire piece speaks of disorganization and mild racism.
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
A collection of poems from Ginsberg in fine form. All of them are very unique. Some I adored, some I didn't really understand (I don't know why he had a thing for writing poetry right after dental appointments, but oh well). Evocative, intense and funny.

I plan on reading each of his collections in turn, so I look forward to reading the next one. His diligence in recording when and where he wrote each poem forms an ongoing narrative of his life in verse.
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Reality Sandwiches is a collection of eccentric, poignant, and eclectic poems that is just as wonderful as Ginsberg’s masterpiece “Howl”. The poems featured are of a more personal nature and are often over-toned with melancholy and personal references from the poet’s life. I thought that this was an inspiring, energising, and beautiful collection of beat poetry that I look forward to revisiting in the future.
Apr 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
I don't think I had realized how much effort went into the editing of Ginsberg's other books--"Howl" and "Kaddish" are probably the best examples--until I read this one, which seems to be a loose collection of uncollected stuff. And while there's some very good early work in here, like "American Change," a lot of it spent 25 years uncollected for good reason.
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
A naked lunch is natural to us,
we eat reality sandwiches.
But allegories are so much lettuce.
Don't hide the madness.

The only thing of note here is Ginsberg's use of the term 'hipster' in 1956. It dawned on me that that's what he was and that's why I don't connect with him. It's just very rarely deep and far too often eye-roll-inducing fakery. Fucking hipsters.
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Definitely worth reading for "The Green Automobile" and "Dream Record". A general knowledge of the beats will explain why. "Siesta in Xbalba" and "On Burroughs' Work" were also good.

"Aether" killed the collection for me, sadly, and brought the rating down. All in all not Ginsberg's best, but still worth looking at for the above mentioned poems.
Craig Werner
Jun 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, sixties
I always enjoy Ginsberg and Reality Sandwiches chronicles his movement from the pre-Howl period to the early Sixties. It's clearly a kind of gathering up of the left-overs, poems that didn't make it into Howl or Kaddish. If you don't already know Ginsberg, start with Howl or Planet News and the move on to Iron Horse, The Fall of America and Kaddish.
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
.."rolled a big tire out of the scarlet bushes, hid my marijuana;
wet the flowers, playing the sunlit water each to each,..." is the kind of lines you get to read in 'A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley'. Keeps you mesmerized. Can never understand the feeling of intrigue from its commonplace serendipity. A great collection to have.
Lani M
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“A naked lunch is natural to us,
we eat reality sandwiches.
But allegories are so much lettuce.
Don't hide the madness.”

“(my) Madness is intelligable reactions to Unintelligable phenomena.”

“What creature gives birth to itself?'
The universe is mad, slightly mad.”

"What is God?"

Lovely, Mr Allen, lovely.
Eric Cartier
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Blessed be the Muses
for their descent,
dancing round my desk,
crowning my balding head
with Laurel.

* * * * *

It took me half of the book to warm up to it, at which point I realized it's home to some major poems, "Aether" being the best. Old Allen peeled back the curtain to let me look at the world anew this past week; for that, this one's a keeper.
Nov 02, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, long-ago
What a lovely concept to make pocket size poetry books you can read on the spur of the moment and pop back into your pocket. It seems a very "1960's" thing to do. The concept of a pocket book of poetry is great for places like New York City where you ride the bus and take trains. but however not as convenient if you don't have public transportaion.
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Irwin Allen Ginsberg was the son of Louis and Naomi Ginsberg, two Jewish members of the New York literary counter-culture of the 1920s. Ginsberg was raised among several progressive political perspectives. A supporter of the Communist party, Ginsberg's mother was a nudist whose mental health was a concern throughout the poet's childhood. According to biographer Barry Miles, "Naomi's illness gave A ...more
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“Not even the human
imagination satisfies
the endless emptiness of the soul.”
“The universe is mad, slightly mad.” 23 likes
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