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An Accidental Autobiography: The Selected Letters Paperback

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An Accidental Autobiography: The Selected Letters + Gasoline (City Lights Pocket Poets Series) + The Happy Birthday of Death
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation; First edition (April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811215350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811215350
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,837,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A zinging, furious output of epistles from the young Corso....Much food for thought here. -- Kirkus Reviews, 1 February 2003

Corso's life was never exemplary, but it produced some surprisingly brilliant and memorable poetry. -- Washington Post Book World, Joyce Johnson, 25 May 2003

[A] stupendous and voluminous collection.... Thank heavens these letters were preserved. -- Beat Scene, Kevin Ring, Summer 2003

More About the Author

Gregory Corso was born on March 26, 1930 in New York City. His first book of poetry was published by City Lights Press in 1955.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book fills in great holes in Corso's biography. Not only do we get an account of major periods of his adulthood, but for the first time his childhood is explored. The letter to his father is especially revealing. A major biography still needs to be done of this poet, among America's most important poets, and almost certainly the most important surrealist poet America has produced. It is especially interesting to see earlier drafts of now famous poems. The drafts are not nearly as good as the finished works, which to my mind proves that Corso was a conscious artist, and not the naif that he is often portrayed. Corso said the most important part of writing a poem was the editing. This voluminous group of letters probably gives first drafts of something like eighty poems. They are nowhere close to the hard sharp brilliance of the finished works. This book is indispensable to anyone who likes Corso's poems. It offers a very revealing insight into the biographical background. I am still hoping an excellent biography will come forth, and especially one that deals with the Catholic church, and Corso's foster families. Sadly, many of the people that Corso knew are dying off, so this project looks more and more remote with each passing year.
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Corso is an honest guy, well at least forthcoming, and unlike all the MLA poetry workshop graduates that abound today, completely and passionately ready to sacrifice everything else in life to write great poems. Insights into the human lives of Beat greats includes intimate aspects of sex lives and money matters. One of the best things about the letters is the language and slang they used with each other. Those who are revamping Beatness today or on a nostalgia trip seem to get so much wrong, but Beat lit is definitely worth revisting, and Beat lifestyles are how most outlaw artists and writers have always lived. Here is another good look at bohemian life and experiments by post-Beat feminists doing it even better and dirtier than street level Beat stars like Corso and Ginsberg, who were late frenemies of the author. Intoxication: Heathcliff on Powell Street The problem with male beats, even hetero ones like Corso, is that women are not taken seriously as equivalent or surpassing writers capable of the didication and sacrifice the Corso letters reveal. I'm into lifestyles of the top underground artists as much as their work, and this along with the important memoir I linked are hot and crazy as well as sedate and focused.
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