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Posted August 30, 2013
I bought this book after hearing it used on a Public Radio show called "Sound Opinions," a rock and roll talk show. After reading a couple of chapters, I wondered whether the radio hosts had actually read any of it. The book is poorly written: it desperately needs an editor. My impression is that it was, for the most part, self-published, although a copy editor is listed in the credits. It suffers, for example, from sentences such as this (and I needed only turn to two pages to find an example): "In March, Dylan's fifth album _Bringing It All Back Home_, appeared and its cover paid lightly-veiled tribute to the Beats in the free-form, automatic writing of Dylan's own sleeve notes plus to Ginsburg himself in one of the cover photographs, which showcased the poet in sartorial style: neck-tied and top-hatted." The book is a disjointed attempt to defend a thesis (concerning beat influence on rock and roll), and reads much like a strained history dissertation periodically mimicking beat writing style (think Kerouacian stream of consciousness). There are a series of interviews almost randomly dispersed throughout the book and, perhaps in that beat-mimicking fashion, transcribed seemingly verbatim, including sometimes indecipherable grammar in the questions. It's truly odd. And despite a section discussing photos with Larry Keenan (who shot the famous pics of Ginsburg, Dylan, Robbie Robertson, and Michael McClure outside Ferlinghetti's bookstore), there's not a photograph in the book - just the one on the cover). That all said, the interviewees include some interesting figures of the era - Michael McClure, David Amram, Larry Keenan - and there is a general nostalgic feeling one might get reading this book (if the frustration over poor editing doesn't lead to throwing it in the recycling bin -or onto a bonfire, if one's burning - in a fit of rage ... I still have my copy intact). But it's not for the uninitiated, not about beat-culture music, and not a mature work; I wish it had been given some time to sit, re-read, and edited to about half its content (with grammar corrections made).Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.