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.
on March 30, 2004
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.
on June 30, 2002
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.
on February 27, 2001
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.
on January 27, 1999
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.
on June 14, 2000
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.
on September 8, 2001
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.
on September 13, 2001
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.
on June 26, 1998
The most incredible book, and my personal favorite (aside from 'A Clockwork Orange'). I've owned the Reader since it was published and still never put it down! If you like this book I suggest picking up 'The Beat Book' edited by Anne Waldman. This book is a must for avid Beat enthusiasts and an excellent way to open up your eyes to the Beats: post-revolutionary geniuses.
on January 12, 1998
This anthology is a great starting point for anyone who wants to get a flavor of the Beat style. For those who crave more, the extensive bibliography is a fine reference. All the major players, women as well as men, are included in this book. If you have to get any general book on the Beat Generation, get this one.