Books I Loathed discussion

Loathed Authors > The Beat Generation

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Jack Kerouac - You wrote Visions of Gerard, one of the most honest and refreshing pieces of writing I've ever had the pleasure to come across.
BUT THEN YOU WROTE ON THE ROAD. A book which consists almost entirely of 'here I am with my cool friends, going across this cool country, having a cool time, meeting cool people!'. A book that has all the literary depth of a petrie dish and isn't nearly as interesting. Worse, you inspired a cult of personality about yourself that I find almost as irritating as the majority of your writing.

Allen Ginsburg - Congratulations. Howl IS one of the best poems of the 20th century. Unfortunately everthing else you've written since then has been crap. Your dubious efforts to ride your own coat tails in a pathetic attempt to remain relevant are nothing less than heartbreakingly sad.

*Honorary Mention*

Bob Dylan - Hey! Your writing DOESN'T totally suck. Unfortunately, you write some of the worst music in the history of mankind. For the love of God, please stop recording it.

message 2: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 64 comments I love Steve.

message 3: by Xysea (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Xysea  (xysea) Oh, so totally.

And I'm afraid I have to add Burrough's Naked Lunch. I've read it a couple of times and it's really aggravating. The style is annoying, and I don't get the whole 'chronic drug-taking makes me a genius' thing. I think they may have made Burroughs interesting for a short time, but they made him a dreadful writer.

I tend to like Beat Poetry slighty more. I like Ferlinghetti, Diane DiPrima and Anne Waldeman. Most of them studied with William Carlos Williams, whose poetry I really love.

And I couldn't agree more about Ginsburg.

message 4: by Michael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Michael Word to Kerouac's drunk-ass grandma. I read enough of OTR to get the point of it ... as it was ... and then I gave it back.

message 5: by Christen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Christen | 61 comments OMG Sherri....stop it! I'm at work!!!! ROTFLMAO!

The scene from Funny Face was awful awful horribly awful. I thought about taking the movie out of my VCR and throwing up on it, but what a cute rest of the movie. I'm a Hepburn fan.

Remember a few months ago when they revived that scene for the Gap straight leg jeans commercial? They tried to spin that the scene in reality was her dancing because she was so joyful rather than dancing out of anger and spite. I tried explaining to my boyfriend, who's never seen the movie, why that was wrong on so many levels, but for some reason he didn't seem to care. Only I did I guess. But seriously what a total bastardization of that movie. Shame on you, Gap. I hope you fall into yourself.

message 6: by Christen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Christen | 61 comments And they kept playing that quote "A girl's got to dance." Please. Your straight leg jeans do not make me want to dance...they just make me imagine how uncomfortable I'd be in them.

message 7: by Xysea (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Xysea  (xysea) lol Sarah!

message 8: by Ann M (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:03PM) (new)

Ann M | 39 comments Okay, okay. I have to play devil's advocate here. You have to understand the kind of censorship, in publishing and society, that fueled the craziness of the Beats. They (over)-did us a favor, imo, breaking through that stifling 50s mentality, and are remarkable for that alone, as well as some flights of genius. It *is* genius to realize that you can live and write completely differently from the way society insists you do it. It's a little bit much to do it so to excess, maybe, but still a worthy fight and worthy combatants. (I wouldn't have dated any of them, mind.)

Ginsberg, whose seminars in poetry I have taken, was a great and generous teacher. For the closest thing you will see to this now that he is gone, see the Paris Review's Beat Writers at Work, which has not only a Ginsberg chapter, but a chapter written from the notes of one of his students for a semester. I recommend it. He was inspiring.

message 9: by Kay (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:03PM) (new)

Kay | 20 comments As a Brit, I have to say that the whole Beat thing looks really weird from over here. And I've never quite got to grips with Ginsberg - who always seems to need a good bath and a hot meal and a night's sleep and a good editor in the stuff I've read. But as mentioned so often, this is about gender, culture, age and circumstance shaping our views, and one of my dearest friends, a Norwegian anthropologist, thinks I'm emotionally limited because I can't 'get' Howl. Quite possibly so, we British are noted for it, after all!

message 10: by Ann M (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Ann M | 39 comments I agree that they are easy to mock -- particularly now, with so many decrepit hippies still around who are stuck in that past. At the time, they were young and hip and although they made mistakes, there was brilliance there, too. Kerouac has an infectious writing style. He is probably responsible for the backpacking and shoestring travel craze -- which didn't exist nearly as much then, and that is saying quite a lot. Not every author has that kind of influence on his readers -- it was a special time, and they lived up to it and embodied it, or we'd have had to invent them...

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

"we'd have had to invent them..."

I couldn't agree more! What other form of writing provides such a perfect vehicle for the privileged to feel like the proletariat?

message 12: by Xysea (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Xysea  (xysea) lol Steve! Ain't that the truth! :)

message 13: by Allison (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:06PM) (new)

Allison I have never really gotten beat literature. I abandoned On the Road back in high school, and have never felt the urge to pick it, or any other piece of beat lit up ever again. Whew! I've never actually admitted that to anyone before because I always felt guilty about it.

This group is awesome.

message 14: by Ann M (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:06PM) (new)

Ann M | 39 comments The Beats were egalitarian: Burroughs privileged; Kerouac working class, but went to Columbia = the American Dream; Ginsberg, somewhat privileged, also Columbia; Corso, working poor, Di Prima, working class from a conservative family (her father beat her for her lifestyle), etc. That's another thing -- not as many people went to college in the past. The postwar period really changed that.

The drinking, drugging and dying young *is* depressing. I don't know if that's a strictly Beat phenomenon. Everyone drank and smoked, at least cigarettes, in the 50s and 60s. I think that came out of the postwar, we-can-do-anything feeling. It really was a euphoric time. The economy rocked. Americans were the world's good guys. It was possible to live well, buy a house and raise a family on one salary. Jobs were secure. Artists could get by on measly part-time jobs, without roommates, in NYC apartments that were really cheap. Rock and roll was new, jazz was thriving. Imagine all that. It fed the Beat sensibility. An easier, more innocent world.

It's easy to look back on that and shake our heads. Of course, the postwar and Boomer generations squandered all that bounty, and we're left to deal with global warming, pollution, economic inequality, etc.

message 15: by Ann M (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:06PM) (new)

Ann M | 39 comments No, I haven't read Sleeping with Bad Boys. What does she say about Mailer and Roth?

I'm not all about praising the Beats. It's just that in context, they're more than pothead drunk miscreants speeding around the country. I am also tired of the old hippies who worship at the Beat altar, and the misogyny. The original energy was good, is what I'm saying.

message 16: by Katie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:51PM) (new)

Katie | 3 comments Thank you for reading my mind.

message 17: by Inky (new)

Inky | 8 comments The only thing that makes me shudder more than the beat poets are the heavy-handed Russians...Fathers and Sons, ick. I had a friend in college that was convinced I was rushing to judgment on the beat poets. He made me listen to a recording of Howl. And I did.

message 18: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Burris (skylarburris) | 32 comments I would hardly put Bob Dylan in with "the Beat Generation." He had his beat PHASE, and he wrote a god-awful book of poetry called Tarantula, but it was one of many phases and many faces, and he has recorded a very wide diversity of music and genres and written some of the greatest lyrics (and songs) of the 20th century. But, with 600+ songs, there's bound to be some awful ones in there too.

message 19: by Hatebeams (new)

Hatebeams | 8 comments I suspect people come to the Beats for the same reason they collect their parent's vinyl records - they look good and evoke a sense of historical 'cool'. This plays on the unfortunate misperception that history began in the post-war era with Elvis, Marilyn et al and that the history of ideas extends back no farther than... urhm...

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