Friday, February 25, 2011

The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, reviewed by BL Kennedy



The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder

Edited by Bill Morgan
Counterpoint
Berkley, CA
$28.00
321 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-58243-444-1



June 7, 1971

Dear Allen,
Lew is supposedly alive—tho not known where—word came thru Sheriff’s office. Keep an eye out in the city. Maybe he’s monstrously drinking,
G.



Let me put this down straight up: I love reading letters almost as much as I love writing them. I think it’s from letters that you get the real insight into most people, and this is very true of both Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder. However, I can’t for the life of me understand why we only have selected letters. Maybe it’s because a lot of the letters that Snyder wrote to Ginsberg early on appeared in the collected letters of Allen Ginsberg. But whatever the case, this is a fine and insightful read. Both Snyder and Ginsberg are telling, passionate and honest in their correspondence. What more can a reader ask for?

See I have this theory: we can’t really consider autobiographies, because autobiographies, by their nature, gives the writer permission to just bullshit the reader blind, and in a way, that’s for our benefit. It would too difficult to go through every minute detail, and in many cases, it might be too embarrassing. But the underlying truth is, people love bullshit. The same can almost be said for the biography, which gives the biographer total permission to write a novel out of someone else’s fiction. So, I stick with letters. I find them intimate, telling, and just downright fun to read.

So what do I do? Do I recommend The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder? Of course I do. This is just a fun book, and should be on the shelf of anyone who has an attraction to the supposed Beat Generation. So yeah, buy it. I can quite clearly say that I don’t think you’d go wrong. You’d enjoy the book, and it will be a wise investment of your time and money.

More info on many sites.

1 comment:

Jason Gusmann said...

william burroughs said that a true autobiography would be impossible because it would be so grim no one would want to read it - "my past was an evil river"

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