Hubert Selby Jr’s American Dream
Oct26

Hubert Selby Jr’s American Dream

The American Dream is the unifying theme across the work of the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac wrote wondrous love letters while William Burroughs explored its often nightmarish landscape. However, Hubert Selby Jr. was the only writer to identify its failure while also providing an antidote to correct it. Hubert “Cubby” Selby Jr. was born in the dilapidated Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, New York in 1928.  He spent his formative years...

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War Upon War: The Second-Generation Beats and Postmemory
Oct15

War Upon War: The Second-Generation Beats and Postmemory

This essay originally appeared in Beatdom #15: the WAR issue.   by Katie Stewart     Most of the writers and artists to whom the label “Beat” was applied did not directly experience the horrors of war. Certainly, some of the older Beats of the original Columbia University circle had been in the firing line: Jack Kerouac, for one, shipped out in the merchant marines in the minefield of the Atlantic, and then joined the...

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The Beat Generation at War
Sep13

The Beat Generation at War

  From Beatdom #15 – Available now on Amazon as a print and Kindle publication: The Beat Generation is often viewed as apolitical, apathetic, selfish, and borne out of the post-WWII era of prosperity. They are viewed as rich kids who chose a bohemian lifestyle as a matter of fashion, as part of a teenage rebellion that went on too long, and inspired too many imitators, and eventually morphing into the beatniks and hippies...

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Melvillian Flat
Aug06

Melvillian Flat

There’s something about this second-floor Red Bank flat that hints of Melville, poor Bartleby scribbling away at his lonely desk, (or Kerouac when he took the job in the Hartford filling station and typed away gloomy hours). Maybe it’s the curve of the rounded windows or the rectangular window facing the street with its late nineteenth- century commercial buildings or the hardwood flooring with its long planks or the kitchen stool I...

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“To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing” i
Jul22

“To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing” i

The title of the William Butler Yeats poem “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing” makes me cringe. Is it kind to encourage a friend whose talent may be nonexistent, or is it kinder to speak plainly, in other words, tell the truth? Friend, it’s my unfortunate obligation to say you have no talent in this area and must give this up, the sooner the better, because you‘re wasting everyone’s time and making yourself crazy and are...

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The Burroughs File Filed
Jul06

The Burroughs File Filed

It was my husband’s task to pack the books in the garage. Just take the good ones, I said. As I was  unpacking his selection, I came across a 1929 edition of An Anthology of World Poetry edited by Mark  Van Doren (Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg’s Columbia University English professor) and a 1984 copy of  City Lights Books The Burroughs File. I look forward to what I might find in the other two unopened boxes of books, but this is...

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The Greatest Road Movie Never Made
Jun25

The Greatest Road Movie Never Made

  Brando should have played Dean; Jack’s 1957 letter to Marlon asking him to buy the film rights to On the Road is a cry in the dark night of his tormented soul. Marlon would have been stellar. Think of the young Marlon Brando as Stanley, Johnny, Terry, or even Sky – a guy straight out of the Omaha, Nebraska, heartland – wild, unorthodox, intelligent, rebellious, athletic, and the Zeus of Adonises. Team him with movie-star...

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Storming the Reality Studio with Uncle Bill:  Some Thoughts on William S. Burroughs and the Movies
Jun18

Storming the Reality Studio with Uncle Bill: Some Thoughts on William S. Burroughs and the Movies

From Beatdom #14   By Matthew Levi Stevens Art by Philip Willey Until really quite recently, of the “big names” that one thinks of in association with the Beat Generation, it was always William S. Burroughs that was easiest or most likely to think of in connection with film – for a variety of reasons, some fairly obvious and others not so. It is something of a cliché that of the Big Three, each had a decade of which they were very...

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