Beat Scrapbook by Gerald Nicosia – Review

Jim Feast

Gerald Nicosia, Beat Scrapbook (Brooklyn: Coolgrove Press, 2020) 113 pages, $19.95 Gerald Nicosia has dedicated all his nonfiction books to describing those who, through whatever means, fought for the underdogs. His biography of Kerouac, the finest we have, Memory Babe, describes how the Beat author, himself from the lower class, in all his writings showed his sympathy for the downtrodden, whether it be city hustlers, Mexican street walkers or those who rode the boxcars with him as he traveled the country. In fact, one of the most developed points in Memory Babe is Nicosia’s bringing out that Kerouac’s greatness as a writer is closely tied to his far-reaching humanity. Then Nicosia turned to the Vietnam vets. In his Home to War, he left indelible portraits of activists, such as Ron Kovic, who denounced the war and the shabby treatment of vets, particularly, in later years, by battling the VA and the government who long denied t...
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SOUTH AMERICAN JOURNALS January – July 1960 by Allen Ginsberg – review

Marc Olmsted

SOUTH AMERICAN JOURNALS January - July 1960 by Allen Ginsberg edited by Michael Schumacher University of Minnesota Press $29.95 First, I was immediately struck by how much unpublished poetry or early drafts (such as "Aether" and "Magic Psalm") are contained in this volume - far beyond any previous journal publications of Allen Ginsberg. In fact, he mostly wrote his journal as poetry during this period. Granted much is not A-list material, as Allen correctly understood in not publishing a lot of it. But for earnest scholars and fans, it is a gold mine. There are also amazing little notations of events, such as seeing Montgomery Clift's "Raintree County" ("he too looks sad" - in fact, Monty's face-rearranging car crash occurred in the middle of filming that picture). Likewise a long dream about Marlon Brando, who imitates Jack Kerouac's voice at one point(!) and includes a dream discussion of how great Orson Welles' Magn...
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Kerouac: The Last Quarter Century by Gerald Nicosia – Review

Jim Feast

Kerouac: The Last Quarter Century Gerald Nicosia Corte Madera, CA: Noodlebrain Press, 2019 Gerald Nicosia's Kerouac: The Last Quarter Century is an absorbing and crucial book, laying out repeatedly how commerce triumphed over art and any real literary values in Kerouac's story. That story culminates with the scandal of auctioning off the roll manuscript of On the Road to a sports franchise owner, who obviously could not care less about the literary qualities of the text and knows it only as the work of a cult author, which may appreciate in value. It is also the story of the inheritance battle scandal which arises around will-tampering and high-priced lawyers. Putting aside that Kerouac died nearly penniless and now others are making millions off his legacy, the real crime is the fact that the values he espoused in On the Road and other texts, the importance of spirituality, comradeship, adventuring and giving zero atten...
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