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Beat Spirit Paperback – October 13, 1997
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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From Library Journal
As Ash (Shaving the Inside of Your Skull, Putnam, 1997) makes clear, this book is not a history of the Beats but a unique, "interactive" self-help book aimed at Generation Xers who find themselves drawn to the philosophical and spiritual principles that inform Beat literature and art. Ash examines works by various authors, including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs; analyzes the values promulgated therein; and then assigns the reader exercises based on those values. Exercises range from "getting naked" to doing genealogical research to writing a suicide note. Ash's aesthetic analysis is generally on target, and the bibliographies he includes are useful. However, a "how to become a Beat" manual seems somewhat paradoxical given the Beat Generation's celebration of originality and spontaneity. The workbook format makes this publication more appropriate for bookstores than libraries.?William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Mel Ash profiles the most famous Beat Writers such as the "prophets of the movement" Burroughs, Ginsburg, and Kerouc. He provides a brief biographical blurb and then provides exercises for the reader to complete in their "Beat Journal" in an effort for them to have a better understanding of said author. Better yet though Ash does not stop at the big three, but also provides information on some of the lesser known "beats" who while not as famous as the others still contributed much to their subculture.
This book is so close to having five stars because A:) It really is informative in brief sections aimed at getting the reader to write and think about the writing style and background philosophy behind the beat movement. B:) I have read most of THE PORTABLE BEAT READER (not to compare apples and oranges as that is an anthology and this is a self-help manual), but found myself much more in tune to the spirit reading this interactive book.
However as much as this book had it was not perfect it could have had even more biographical blurbs and exercises, but that is a very n itpicky point. So I recommend this book to readers who are interested in "Beat", to writers who wish to open up a new side to their writing, and to people searching for something without knowing precisely what they seek. Wow just about for everyone then teehee.