Monday, 14 November 2011

Books: The Beats: A Graphic History


The Beats: A Graphic History
Written by Harvey Pekar, Nancy J Peter, Penelope Rosemont, Joyce Brabner, Trina Robbins, and Tuli Kupferber
Art by Ed Piskor, Jay Kinney, Nick Thorkelson, Summer McClintock, Peter Kuper, Marey Fleener, Jerome Neukirch, Anne Timmons, Gary Dumm, Lance Tooks, and Jeffery Lewis


Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:

Ok. So first of all I'm just going to admit that I haven't actually read this entire book. I mean. I tried. Very diligently. But it all got a bit much... I mean - not that I have anything against it - it's just I don't think that it's for me. So then: I guess I should say: who is it for?

From grouchy curmudgeon Harvey Pekar The Beats: A Graphic History is an examination of the lives of the famous and not so famous writers, poets and artists who made up the "Beat Generation" - in particular: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs (whose three stories combined take up the bulk of the book: while the last third looks at more obscure names).

Me myself - I've never really had much time for the type of writing that The Beat Generation spat out. "Unexpurgated means of expression and being"? No thanks. I prefer things which are a little more - erm - thought out. I tried once reading Junkie and Naked Lunch way back when - but didn't get very far before admitting defeat. Saying that I was curious to learn more and gain some sort of understanding as to what all the fuss is/was about. Unfortunately for me - this book wasn't written for the causal fan - but rather for those people that already know about the work and want to know more about the history of the people who made (I guess the title should have tipped me off).

Thinking about it venn diagram style - I don't know how much overlap there's gonna be between the circle of people who dig the Beats and the other circle of those who like comics - but if you are one of those people then you should definitely give this book a shot. For the rest of us - well - unlike other comic book histories (like say Kiki de Montparnasse) - The Beats cursorily over-view doesn't really give the average reader to connect on any sort of personal level: and so while you'll get a whole bunch of facts about who did what were and worked what job and knew which people - you're not going to get any sort of insight to what these people were actually like. And yeah: I guess I found the onslaught a little fatiguing - and well yeah: left me bored. Which is why I skipped out before class was done. But don't let that stop you.

Links: 3:AM Magazine Review, BoingBoing Review.

Further reading: Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson, American Splendor: The Best of American Splendor, American Splendor presents: Bob and Harv's ComicsKiki de Montparnasse, #$@&!: The Official Lloyd Llewellyn Collection, Breakdowns.

All comments welcome.

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