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Naked Angels: The Lives and Literature of the Beat Generation Paperback – January 19, 2006
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Strong, urgent, ultimately thrilling.... In some 250 packed pages of text [Tytell] misses very little, unfolding his subjects' stories in detailed social and historical context and, separately, analyzing their art. Of particular usefulness is his careful tracing of the Beats' intellectual roots, their spiritual and literary influences. (The New York Times)
A thoroughly readable and persuasive work that will take its place at the center of studies of literature [of these years]. (Thomas Parkinson American Literature)
Energy, conviction, and unexpected brilliance. (The New Yorker)
An essential book. (John Clellon Holmes)
As fine a view as we are likely to get of this vibrant phase in American literary history. (Chicago Sun-Times)
The culturally soporific 1950d fairly screamed out for new ideas and ways of looking at the world. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs were only too glad to oblige and, even though they're now gone, they're clearly left their imprint on their times and even ours. This collection of writings blends history, biography, and social and literary criticism, as Tytell relates to a new generation the emergence of the Beat movement. (Steve Goddard's History Wire)
Any studying American literature, especially modern literary trends, will want to include John Tytell's Naked Angels: Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs on their reading list for a lively biographical series of sketches offering insights ino the lives and history of some of the beat contributors to American writing. Newcomers especially will appreciate an introduction to these major figures which assumes no prior knowledge, but assesses their personalities, achievements, and the atmosphere of their times. (Midwest Book Review)
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I was most interested in the chapter on Burroughs, and here is an appraisal:
A short introductory chapter on Burroughs gives biographical background. The Burroughs section of Naked Angels is entitled "The Black Beauty of William Burroughs," and is a 29-page exploration of Burroughs' writing, with useful comparisons to other writers, such as Poe, Baudelaire, and Nabokov. Tytell analyzes the work Burroughs published from 1953-1973, omitting or including only the slightest references to minor works. Early works which went unpublished for years, such as Queer and Interzone, are not discussed. The book has an index and bibliography. Tytell's book is not wholly given over to Burroughs, but as an introduction to the writer, it serves as well as any other.
If you have read the section on Naked Angels dealing with Burroughs, and you are eager for a more complete investigation of his life, turn to Ted Morgan's book LITERARY OUTLAW, which I believe to be the most thorough and fascinating biography of Burroughs.