Synopses & Reviews
Beginning in New York in 1944, James Campbell finds the leading members of what was to become the Beat Generation in the shadows of madness and criminality. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs had each seen the insides of a mental hospital and a prison by the age of thirty. A few months after they met, another member of their circle committed a murder that involved Kerouac and Burroughs as material witnesses.
This book charts the transformation of these experiences into literature, and a literary movement that spread across the globe. From "The First Cut-Up"--the murder in New York in 1944--we end up in Paris in 1960 with William Burroughs at the Beat Hotel, experimenting with the technique that made him notorious, what Campbell calls "The Final Cut-Up."
In between, we move to San Francisco, where Ginsberg gave the first public reading of Howl. We discover Burroughs in Mexico City and Tangiers; the French background to the Beats; the Buddhist influence on Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and others; the "Muses" Herbert Huncke and Neal Cassady; the tortuous history of On the Road; and the black ancestry of the white hipster.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 286-308) and index.
About the Author
James Campbell is the author of Exiled in Paris: Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett and Others on the Left Bank(1995), Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin (1991), and Invisible Country: A Journey through Scotland (1984). He works for the Times Literary Supplement.
Table of Contents
PART I: I CAN FEEL MYSELF DRIFTING....
1. Crazy wisdom
2. The first cut-ups
Behind the beat: Hipikats
3. The muses: Huncke-junkies and Neo-Cassady
Behind the beat: Naked Neal
4. The little auto
Behind the beat: Neurotica
5. The place of dead roads
Behind the beat: The scroll
6. Beat, in black and white
Behind the beat: Broyard
PART II: ....FURTHER AND FURTHER OUT
7. Sutra on the subway
Behind the beat: City Lights
8. You're a Genius all the time
Behind the beat: As food as Proust
9. Death to Van Gogh's Ear
10. The birth of the beatnik
Behind the beat: as he leaps Updike swing
11. Terminal cut-up