What Are You Reading?

I just got done reading "HOWL" by Ginsberg. The only reason I read this small book was because Buk mentioned it like a hundred times in his two books of letters, Screams from the Balconey, and Living on Luck. I said to myself I have to buy that book one day since Buk mentioned it so much.

I didn't like it even a little bit. The first poem which is long has all of those loose form sentences that made no sense and had no rhythm. Thses sentences had NO rhythm at all. I had to go back and re-read numerous sentences. Half of the sentences begin with Who. I know he wanted it that way but that got real old after a while. I don't know who Carl Solomon is and the back story between Ginsberg and him and so I don't know the "meanings" of a lot of these sentences.

Thankfully there are other poems in this book. I didn't like any of those poems either. I tried but they didn't mesh with me. There were some cool lines in there for sure. A lot of it seemed like he was ranting an raving and maybe that was his point. He clearly was straining against the establishment.

I have to remind myself that this was released in 1956 so you know it was going to cause an uproar, and that is what it did. I'm sure he and this book exploded on the scene.

After "trying" to read something like this and then you back to Hank it makes you realize just how special Buk is. Even if you read one of Buk's somewhat crazy rambling poems they still have a ryhthm. I bought and read HOWL but I don't feel enriched for having done so.


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A few I've recently finished:

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever - Will Hermes
Framed in the years when punk rock was created, but interesting to more than just punk losers, since it also covers the dawn of the loft jazz scene, salsa, hip hop and disco, all of which were sprouting around the same time in the same place. Put in context with the news of the times, you can really see what shaped a lot of the music that came out of NYC in the 70s.

Strat in the Attic: Thrilling Stories of Guitar Archaeology - Deke Dickerson
For guitar geeks only, stories of big finds and rare finds and everything in between. Some chapters were too short, but I suppose that's better than too long.

Up in the Old Hotel - Joseph Mitchell
Recommended by @hoochmonkey9, a great book about old New York, a place that doesn't exist anymore. Full of great old language and only 5% of the 9,000 pages were filler.

A Queer and Pleasant Danger - Kate Bornstein
Because how can you read a subtitle like, "The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology, and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today," and not want to read it?


Did MODS put the amazon links in the above post...or are they somehow magically auto-linked by the machine now?


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They are magically linked by me. The automated methods are too intrusive. You know those sites you go to where random words are links? Yeah, I hate those.


That makes me feel better. I thought there'd been some Amazon innovation where they auto-link any mention of a product to their page selling it...which would've been horrify--...oh great, McCreesh, now they're working on it!


Sad Flower in the Sand
I'm struggling through the first couple chapters of Joseph McElroy's Women & Men. I'm too damn old for books that make no damn sense 30 pages in.

I'm also thumbing through A Deep & Gorgeous Thirst at about two or three poems a day, really savoring the thing.

And beyond all that, a YA book called Grasshopper Jungle that's funny, dark, and odd.

Oh and the Archer book. For laffs.
I'm finishing Journey to the End of the Night. I started it last year in the library.

I had to stop when I was traumatized by hearing a couple having sex in one of the study rooms.
I'm struggling through the first couple chapters of Joseph McElroy's Women & Men.
I tried reading McElroy but was lost in the slang. Good imagery, though.
Reading JP Donleavy for the first time-Fairytale of New York. So far (100 pages in) it's great. Also been
reading a lot of Kenneth Patchen lately. Mostly good for me, simple and vivid.


“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
Been going through the Martin Beck police mystery series and loving it. I'm mostly not a police mystery guy either. Recently finished its seventh (of ten) The Abominable Man by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo. Currently finishing Go by John Clellon Holmes. It's a great novel of the beats in N.Y. post-WWII. What's so especially interesting & well done is the fact that it's not sloppily written. It's unpretentious & not corny like some beat writing can be with all the "like wow man, cool" type stuff.
Holmes was a good writer. In college I read his travel essays and really loved them. They make a good companion piece to On The Road, though written much later.


“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
Yeah, that book is considered the definitive bio of Burroughs. I'll get to it eventually i'm sure.


"The law is wrong; I am right"
It certainly got great reviews everywhere and it's the only Burroughs biography that also covers the last 10 years of his life.
I'm halfway through and partially enjoying "The Ginger Man" by J.P. Donleavy. I've been told it gets better slowly, and I hope so.


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I'm halfway through my next four (for some reason that's how many I usually read at one time, two per eye), and they're all pretty good (oh, there are six here...whatever!). Still nothing literary, so sorry to disappoint.

The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World - Trevor Cox

This one is great if you have ears and have ever given any thought to what goes into them. As a reformed sound engineer I find all of this stuff to be right up my alley, but normal people should find it fascinating too.

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir - Steven Tyler

The guy writes like he talks, which is crazy, riddled with corny puns and bouncing off every wall in a three mile radius. But if you are or were a "fan" of Aerosmith, it's worth a peep. I think it was less than four bucks for Kindle.

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood - Leah Vincent

Because I'm a sucker for any story of someone "escaping" a religion, the more extreme the "religion," the better.

And just because I haven't yet read every Beatles book in the world:
A Cellarful of Noise - Brian Epstein

With the Beatles - Alistair Taylor

Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles - Tony Bramwell

Actually, I might have read some of the Beatles books already, but if I have it's been a couple decades, so I'm reading them again. FTW.
Holycrap mjp. You're a reading machine. Did you ever hear of the Philly news guy Larry Kane who befriended the Beatles and then wrote a book about his time with them? It was a best seller. I can't remember the name of the book though. He traveled right along with the Beatles on one of thier American tours. I plan on reading it one of these days.

I just got done reading "Mocking Bird Wish Me Luck." I really enjoyed it. One of my favorite lines of all time from Buk is "Humanity, you never had it from the beginning." We all know that that line is in "Barfly" and I love the scene where he says it when it is late at night and Jane is asleep. I finally got to read the poem where it comes from. The poem is called "those sons of bitches." I didn't think the poem was all that great but I love that line. Sometimes when I get so disgusted with my interactions with people in life and the whole damn systems lets me down I said that one line and I feel better.

I tried to buy the book of Buk and the Purdy letters and it was not available on Amazon and even the used copies were going for $52. I saw one for $6,500. God if Buk were alive to see these numbers he fall out of his chair.


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Did you ever hear of the Philly news guy Larry Kane who befriended the Beatles and then wrote a book about his time with them?
Everyone who ever heard of them wrote a book about them. I try to keep my intake to the people who really knew them or worked for/with them for a good chunk of time. But even some of those are pretty useless (Peter Brown's The Love You Make, for instance).

Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
I just picked up two small books by Tom Wolfe, for a dollar. One is "The Painted Word", the other "From Bauhaus to our House".


“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
mjp- saw Love Goes to Buildings on Fire for only $5 so snatched it up. I opened it randomly and was drawn in deep right away.
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I recently finished Ask the Dust and was expecting to be blown away but wasn't. The book did grow on me a bit. I kept reminding myself of Buk reading it so long ago and that helped me get into it. I also reminded myself that is was written in the 1930's and things must have been so incredibly different back then. I thought it was really surprising that he had the main female lead smoking pot. Now that was really pushing the bounderies of society back in those days.

You could see everywhere in the book where Buk got ideas from Fante for his own writing. I was a little suprised how abrupt the ending was. I'm not so sure I'm going to buy and read all of the other Fante books but maybe I will one day as a tribute to Buk's intense love of the guy. He definitely had times in the book where he was really on a roll describing a scene or expressing his emotions.

I'm glad I read the book because now I have some feel as to how Fante wrote.


“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
Danny Mac

i recently ( within the past 4 months) read The Wine of Youth, a John Fante short story collection and found that to be very good. At some point when you decide to go back to Fante might i suggest you dig into that. The store Book Haven on Fairmount at 22nd(?) always has at least one or two of his from which to choose.

Just finished Willy Vlautin's The Free last night. Blew through it. Now there's a really good writer.
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Danny, give Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1938; pre-dates Ask the Dust by a year and is the first book in the 4-part series that is the Saga of Arturo Bandini) a read, as well as Dreams from Bunker Hill (1982), which is the finale. In terms of quality of writing, of the four, I thought that Dreams was the best (and really, really top-notch), Wait Until Spring was a close second, Ask the Dust was third, and The Road to Los Angeles belonged in a wastewater treatment plant under a load of sludge never to be seen by human eyes ever again.

In other words, from Buk's opinion of Ask the Dust, you shouldn't necessarily conclude that Ask the Dust is the greatest book; to me, it makes more sense to conclude that Fante was a great writer. Then use your tastes to see if you find that in his catalog.
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Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
I am reading Notes from Underground by Dostoyevsky. As when I read Crime and Punishment, I find it difficult to stay focused and staying in the groove, but rewarding just the same. The translation is by Constance Garnett (1945) with an intro by Thomas Mann.
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I'm halfway through and partially enjoying "The Ginger Man" by J.P. Donleavy. I've been told it gets better slowly, and I hope so.

I never really could get into that one. I might try it again at some point in my life. However I did really enjoy Donleavy's "A Singular Man."


Gonna crack the new Dave Newman, Two Small Birds after finishing Rebecca Schumejda's newest Waiting at the Dead End Diner. Just finished The Free by Vlautin, and dug it. I just feel better knowing there are good books being made!
The Road to Los Angeles belonged in a wastewater treatment plant under a load of sludge never to be seen by human eyes ever again.
Jesus. That's harsh. The Road to Los Angeles was raw, but best displayed the true nature of Fante's character, I think. Offensive, confrontational, and funny as hell. And an excellent writer (even if his younger self was a loathsome jack-ass). In fact, I put it ahead of Wait Until Spring Bandini and in the same league as Ask the Dust and Dreams from Bunker Hill, even if it is significantly less polished.

I think you meant to say that 1933 Was a Bad Year never deserved to see the light of day...
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