Though Kerouac and Cassady died more than fifty years ago and the Beat heyday was long before that, interest in this most fascinating of literary movements continues. Perhaps it is because their voices are as relevant today as they ever were. In any case, it is heartening to see not just a continuation of interest in the Beats but a growth of interest as new generations uncover Beat literature.
In 2021, several Beat books are slated for publication (or re-publication). This list is no doubt missing several, so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you know of any others.
Matt Theado, professor of American Culture at Japan’s Kobe University, has edited this collection of essays about the Beat Generation writers and those of the Black Mountain school. From the book’s introduction:
This sounds like a fascinating book and will be available in March from Clemson University Press.
Also published by Clemson University Press, Nancy M. Grace’s The Beats: A Teaching Companion will provide educators with an important resource for teaching Beat studies. This text will contain twenty-two essays divided into the following categories: “1) Foundational Issues, 2) Beat Literary Genres, 3) Beat Literary Topics, 4) Beat Lineages and Legacies, 5) Selected Resources, and 6) Sample Assignments.” According to the publisher’s website:
Grace’s new book seems like an important addition to Beat studies and hopefully will be adopted in universities around the world.
This is not a new book but rather a major re-issuing of a classic Beat text. Gerald Nicosia wrote the original Memory Babe in 1983 and it is a highly regarded biography of Kerouac. The book has been out of print for two decades but its author has been busy working on new material. According to its Amazon page:
This book is slated for publication in March by Station Hill Press.
Coming in March from Beatdom Books, Burroughs & Scotland is a look at an over-looked part of the life of William S. Burroughs. Chris Kelso has investigated Burroughs’ time in Edinburgh (where he studied Scientology) and looked into the influence Burroughs’ work has had on modern Scottish literature, arguing that Scotland was practically waiting for him to arrive and kick the country into a new era. From the back cover:
In July, another book about Burroughs will be published, this time a collection of essays assembled by S. E. Gontarski. Featuring work by Oliver Harris and Jed Birmingham, this aims to follow on from several recent publications that have pushed the curious Beat author’s work into a more serious critical light. According to the publisher’s website, it will ask “crucial questions […] about the nature of archives and their relationship to a writer’s work” yet go beyond merely writing and into other media:
This book will be published by Bloomsbury.
It is unclear how much of this book is about the Beat Generation, but it is supposedly a collection of material related to the famed Beat Hotel and written by Gregory Stephenson, who has produced several books and essays on the Beats. This new book gives away little on its Amazon page and is independently published by the author. By way of a synopsis, it simply says:
In addition to those books, 2021 will also bring us an exciting new record. This is the earliest audio recording of Allen Ginsberg reading “Howl,” from February, 1956. Here’s the trailer:
More details at Variety.
Hunter S. Thompson is best known for his bizarre Gonzo writing, which fused fiction and…