REVIEW: Television was a Baby Crawling Toward That Deathchamber

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.

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