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Paperback Beat Writers at Work: The Paris Review Book

ISBN: 0375752153

ISBN13: 9780375752155

Beat Writers at Work: The Paris Review

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Book Overview

From the pages of The Paris Review, a collection of interviews with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Ken Kesey, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and more Edited by Paris Review co-founder George Plimpton, and with an introduction by Rick Moody, this anthology of "Writers at Work" interviews featuring the great figures of the Beat and Black Mountain movements is an in-depth look into one of the most famous literary tribes of the century. The...

Customer Reviews

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Required Reading for Anyone Interested in The Beats

"Beat Writers at Work" is a fascinating and informative collection of interviews with writers and publishers of the so-called "Beat Generation". I consciously use the term "Beat Generation", rather than "Beat Movement", because the collection incorporates a diverse group of poets and writers who, while largely contemporaries, are each so idiosyncratic in their own right that it is inaccurate to lump them together in a single "movement". All of the interviews originally appeared in "The Paris Review" between 1965 and 1998. Each interview is preceded by a short biographical introduction and a description of the circumstances in which the interview occurred.If there is any unifying characteristic among these writers, it is their rejection of literary formalism and their reliance upon sponaneity. As Lawrence Ferlinghetti observerves in his 1998 interview, one of the best in this collection, "I would call it the 'graph of consciousness' school of poetry because the poetry, as conceived and as defined in this manner, is exactly what goes through your consciousness at any given moment."Consistent with Ferlinghetti's view of the Beat poets, Allen Ginsberg thus proclaims in his 1996 interview, that "there should be no distinction between what we write down and what we really know." Attacking literary formalism, the owlish iconoclastic "Howl" author notes: "the hypocrisy of literature has been-you know like there's supposed to be formal literature, which is supposed to be different from . . . in subject, in diction and even in organization, from our quotidian inspired lives."Not surprisingly, Ginsberg's poetics echo the 1968 interview with Jack Kerouac, the breathless unpunctuated Beat proponent of unrevised prose, the very inventor of the term "Beat". In Kerouac's words, "by not revising what you've already written you simply give the reader the actual workings of your thoughts about events in your unchangeable way."Charles Olson, whose virtually unintelligible 1970 interview appears here, follows this same poetic line. Olson (more appropriately identified with the "Black Mountain School") advocated so-called "open-field composition", described by George Plimpton in his introduction to the Olson interview as "poetry whose appearance and internal logic are governed by the spontaneity of the writing process."Thus, in some respects, Beat poetics seems to resemble the spontaneity, the anti-formalism of Surrealist automatic writing (something which Ferlinghetti suggests in his interview). But this resemblance is attenuated by the Beat experience of America and of the Beats turn to the East (specifically, Buddhism) and to the influence of consciousness-expanding drugs. Furthermore, while there may be unifying strands running through Beat poetics, this collection of interviews also demonstrates the remarkable diversity of these authors, a diversity which makes it difficult to collate their writings under any unified theory. After reading the interviews with Will

Required Reading for Anyone Interested in the Beats

"Beat Writers at Work" is a fascinating and informative collection of interviews with writers and publishers of the so-called "Beat Generation". I consciously use the term "Beat Generation", rather than "Beat Movement", because the collection incorporates a diverse group of poets and writers who, while largely contemporaries, are each so idiosyncratic in their own right that it is inaccurate to lump them together in a single "movement". All of the interviews originally appeared in "The Paris Review" between 1965 and 1998. Each interview is preceded by a short biographical introduction and a description of the circumstances in which the interview occurred.If there is any unifying characteristic among these writers, it is their rejection of literary formalism and their reliance upon sponaneity. As Lawrence Ferlinghetti observerves in his 1998 interview, one of the best in this collection, "I would call it the 'graph of consciousness' school of poetry because the poetry, as conceived and as defined in this manner, is exactly what goes through your consciousness at any given moment."Consistent with Ferlinghetti's view of the Beat poets, Allen Ginsberg thus proclaims in his 1996 interview, that "there should be no distinction between what we write down and what we really know." Attacking literary formalism, the owlish iconoclastic "Howl" author notes: "the hypocrisy of literature has been-you know like there's supposed to be formal literature, which is supposed to be different from . . . in subject, in diction and even in organization, from our quotidian inspired lives."Not surprisingly, Ginsberg's poetics echo the 1968 interview with Jack Kerouac, the breathless unpunctuated Beat proponent of unrevised prose, the very inventor of the term "Beat". In Kerouac's words, "by not revising what you've already written you simply give the reader the actual workings of your thoughts about events in your unchangeable way."Charles Olson, whose virtually unintelligible 1970 interview appears here, follows this same poetic line. Olson (more appropriately identified with the "Black Mountain School") advocated so-called "open-field composition", described by George Plimpton in his introduction to the Olson interview as "poetry whose appearance and internal logic are governed by the spontaneity of the writing process."Thus, in some respects, Beat poetics seems to resemble the spontaneity, the anti-formalism of Surrealist automatic writing (something which Ferlinghetti suggests in his interview). But this resemblance is attenuated by the Beat experience of America and of the Beats turn to the East (specifically, Buddhism) and to the influence of consciousness-expanding drugs. Furthermore, while there may be unifying strands running through Beat poetics, this collection of interviews also demonstrates the remarkable diversity of these authors, a diversity which makes it difficult to collate their writings under any

Totally Worth It!!

The Paris Reviw interviews of the beats are famouse for their openness about the writers craft, and the insight into their work and lives. If you want to truly understand the beats, this is the place to go! Totally worth it!

Brilliant interview with Ferlinghetti

There was only one essay I truly enjoyed: Andrew Madden's "An interview with Ferlinghetti." That's writing! Worth the entire value of the book. Such grace. Such lyricism. I laughed, I cried, etc.
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