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Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir Paperback – July 1, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I was struck by how much the intellectual world has changed in the last half-century: In 1950, the cultural avante-garde could be found (almost by definition) only around some Ivy League schools (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, etc.), a couple of midwestern schools, and, I guess, Stanford & Berkeley. Today, "place" is not nearly so important.
This is a very nice book. If you've gone to the trouble of getting to this page, you ought to take the next step and read the book; you won't be disapppointed (although you may continue to wonder just why the beatniks faded away in the early 60s).
I guess I've read this book three or four times now and it never gets old.
I also recommend Ms. Johnson's novel, In the Night Cafe, another skillful invocation of the Beat period.
Her unique and fresh writing style should not be overlooked either. She wrote this book at a good time in her life as well, it is reflective and filled with the insight and intelligence of years and experience.
Joyce recounts how she escaped an overprotective and oppressive childhood that makes the reader wince, as her parents pry into her private life and grill her on her (nonexistent) activities with boys, when they aren't pushing her to become a pianist instead of encouraging her obvious love for and gift of writing. Joyce's efforts as a young teen at fitting in and belonging to the burgeoning Bohemian scene are very relatable to any young girl who's drawn to an exciting new creative world, full of older and potentially dangerous men that are definitely not OK to bring home to Mama. Along the way, Joyce meets and befriends Elise Cowan, another early Beat muse who unlike Joyce comes to a sad end, and Hettie Jones, the wife of poet LeRoi Jones, and she devotes some time to telling each of their stories as well as her own.
I pretty much liked all the women in the book much better than the men before the story was over, but I don't think that was because the author was pushing a feminist agenda.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'll be honest: there is no love lost between me and the Beats. As much as I appreciate their writing for the literary value, I've never found too much to interest me in the people... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Sam
This book is like one of the movies that sweep the Oscars for their year:
"Minor Characters" is "best memoir of growing up in the fifties,""best lived analysis of the woman's... Read more
Joyce Johnson is a national treasure -- this book is a wonderful account of the heady late-50s in nyc. Very highly recommended.Published 19 months ago by Michael S. Stewart
Brilliant, Well-written. Informative. Enlightening. I love Joyce and loved this book.Published 24 months ago by Zarda
The book didn't have this cover, I don't mind but that's a little deceptive. But it was in good conditionPublished on January 19, 2014 by Emily S
I'm going through my Amazon purchases and the fact that I bought this book is a huge endorsement. I'm a life long library rat, and while I do buy books, I don't often buy the books... Read morePublished on January 13, 2014 by Amanda Rose Adams
Joyce Johnson writes from the unique perspective of a young woman who was in love with jack Kerouac and knew many of his best known friends, and she does it with impressive clarity... Read morePublished on October 19, 2013 by Pecksniff
I love Jack Kerouac and have done since I discovered him at age 12 in 1961. This woman sheds real interesting and very insightful light on what this period was REALLY like with out... Read morePublished on April 2, 2013 by Allison V. Fine
Beautifully written. Insightful an illuminating. Helped me comprehend my own coming of age in the 1960s - I was born in 1950 and somehow absorbed the Beat generation's early... Read morePublished on February 27, 2013 by Charlotte Miller