I am very, very, very excited to take part in the Beats of Summer, beginning in June! The Beats hold a very special place in my heart: they were the first group of authors I studied en groupe, on my own in college and just after. They were the right writers at the right time: so very cool (as a punk I loathed hippies but could completely relate to the wine and coffee swilling, up all night, cardigan and glasses wearing Beats), experimental in all aspects of their lives, and the writing! It was immediate and innovative and emotional and explored things I cared about that very minute. I was also thrilled about how many women writers I found in the group and how much I related to their writing. I was consumed.
Flash forward twenty odd years. We read Kerouac’s On the Road for an Unputdownables read-a-long, and I picked the novel up with some trepidation. I was afraid to find that it didn’t speak to me any more. Maybe I would find it naive, or simplistic?
Well, I loved it. I loved it even more than my twenty year old self did. I noticed so many things and felt so many emotions that my younger self just didn’t have the background to understand. When it came time to compile my Classics Club list, I made sure that the Beats were on it. I am so excited to dive into that part of my list this summer. Thanks Adam at RoofBeamReader for the opportunity to do so with others.
I’m planning on reading The Dharma Bums by Kerouac, Howl by Ginsberg, Off the Road by Carolyn Cassady (which I scored recently on PaperBackSwap — yeah! and loads and loads of Diane di Prima poems. I also plan to drink Chianti from one of those bottles wrapped in straw, lots and lots of coffee, wear my beret ALL SUMMER and play the bongos. ONLY KIDDING (about the bongos).
( Isn’t that a great photo? Beats at breakfast in New York, late 1950s. L-R: Larry Rivers, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso (back of head), David Amram, Allen Ginsberg from http://davidhuntershaw.blogspot.com/2011/12/photographic-evidence-jack-kerouacs.html )