Umm sorry about the title of the blog. As you can see, it is in fact the title of the second of the Penguin Modern Classics set that I bought and the title of one of Ginsberg’s poems included in here.
Before we get on to the review of the book, can we just say a word about the typography on the front covers of these books.
It’s hideous. I have no idea what font it is but it makes everything look lopsided and ridiculous. I hate the double L in Allen, I hate the fact that the As and Ws slant one way and then the other and I hate the way the E and the A in deathchamber overlap. Thanks. Rant over.
Now, let’s discuss the books themselves. Having set myself the challenge of reading 200 books this year, I am feeling that including these is a bit of a cheat. Each volume runs to between 50 and 60 pages. Can hardly be called a book really can it? So I’ve decided I can count one book towards my 200 for every five of these I read. That seems fair to me and, if I read them in order, I won’t lose track. This is book two, I have also read book three but we’ll come on to that at a later date.
This one is a book of selected poems by Allen Ginsberg, American poet, writer and co-founder and spokesman for the Beat Generation.
This slim volume (55 pages) does not include Ginsberg’s most famous works Howl or Kaddish but does include America, a no-holds-barred assessment of !950s American Values. It’s harsh.
I’ve not read Ginsberg before and I struggled with it at some points. I think it is because I was unsure of many of the references included in the poems. I really didn’t understand the titular poem. I got that he was ranting and I got that he was angry and generally unimpressed with pretty much everything. That’s about it. Maybe I should look it up and see if there is some sort of a translation somewhere because I need this explained to me.
Actually, that particular poem was the only one I struggled with – but as it made up one third of the book it felt like quite a lot.
I should read more Ginsberg but at the moment I’m feeling I probably won’t. Maybe if I read more about him and the Beat Generation, I might be tempted to read more of him… but I don’t know.