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The Portable Beat Reader (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 29, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (July 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142437530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437537
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Portable Beat Reader is an excellent and thorough study of the Beat Generation, compiled and edited by Ann Charters, biographer of Jack Kerouac and one of our most notable experts on Beat literature and ideas. This lively work of scholarship goes deeply into the history of the Beat movement, investigating events such as the discovery (by writer William Burroughs) of the word beat to describe this literary generation. The reader includes essays on all the major prose and poetry writers, such as Allen Ginsberg, and offers rare insight into the literary-historical context of the movement. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Cutting through bohemian posturing and excess, Charters reprints the most vital material produced by writers of the Beat generation, offering a broad perspective on the movement by including work by lesser-known figures alongside that of leading lights Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
74%
4 star
26%
3 star
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See all 31 customer reviews
Yes this is worth the read.
nicole
This book features some excellent beat writers and includes informative blurbs on their history and style.
Autumn May
Good for anyone looking for one-stop-shopping.
Jessica Hodorski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com VINE VOICE on September 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Nice sampler... all the writers you should expect are in here.

A feature I enjoyed particularly was the intro section. Read "about the writer" before the piece. Since I had not heard of so many of these writers, I found it intriguing to see how many were part of the same group of friends. The Beats largely were connected with each other's lives and fed off each other's style and work.

Buy this book, then go get the full works of these individual writers. For an anthology of Beat writers, you will find no better book.

I fully recommend this book.

Anthony Trendl
anthonytrendl.com
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Autumn May on March 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book features some excellent beat writers and includes informative blurbs on their history and style. Each artist has a little chunk of their writing for you to sample, and the material is everything from stories to letters to classically bad prose.
What impressed me were the essays by each other, on the actual generation hype.
"Young people seemed more intense, clutching, and I couldn't help feeling they took themselves too seriously... 'good, clean fun' appeared to be a thing of the past. Or perhaps the aura of suspicion and defensiveness was merely a reflection of my own fears..." --Carylon Cassady
It's a great book for deciding which authors you want to read more of.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By justin on June 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
Simply put, this is what I turn to when I need inspiration for reading, for creating, for anything. It combines wonderful bios of everyone from Kerouac to Bob Dylan, and their poems, book excerpts, and lyrics galore. Absolutely enjoyable, absolutely essential. Thank god for Ann Charters.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Marc Shaw on February 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
After riding the whirlwind of On The Road and Howl, many readers will acquire an appetite for Beat literature that will lead them to this book. Ann Charters serves up some of the best pieces of Beat Literature in this anthology. However, some inclusions, such as excerpts from On The Road, could be considered sacrilege, as the texts were never meant to be cut up, and suffer as a result. The Bob Dylan lyrics included by Charters indicate that she was no Dylan scholar, as other tracks would have been more suitable. However, with inclusions such as Neal Cassady's letters, William S. Burroughs adventure narratives, and the lesser known Beat poetry, this anthology is indispensable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
If someone wants to start reading about the Beat Generation, this is the book to start with. It gives a lot of good poetry and prose from many writers and captures the spirit of the movement. It is a great springboard to starting to read the complete On the Road or Naked Lunch or Ginsburg's poems. Very illuminating.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Greg Harnish on June 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is major marker on the road of my personal and intellectual development. I had just finished On The Road and was interested in exploring some more Beat writing - but was completely at a loss as to where I should begin. Charter's anthology was like a literary mindbomb from the minute I began the Forward until I finished the last poem. After I was done, I just couldn't think of writing (or writers) in the same way. It managed to connect so many literary, intellectual, and musical "schools" of the West and East - I was left dazed as I saw smatterings of Rimbaud, Buddah and Bird all through the "Beat" works. Beauty, obscenity, freedom - every aspect of life can be found there. This book is just a beginning - but it's a great beginning.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jack Baur on September 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
An absolute wonder, a perfect selection of Beat writings: Poems, fragments of novels, essays, history, mythology, philosophy... The Portable Beat Reader is one of the most essential books in my collection and rarely leaves my side. And it is, thankfully, portable, and much easier than bringing everything with you all the time. Aquire it, open it, and just start reading.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lacey A. Dalby on September 13, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This reader is a good overall introduction to beat literature. While I could have done with a few more examples of writing from the women in the movement, that probably would not have kept the book as "portable" as its title promises.
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