Friday, November 21, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: The Letters of Allen Ginsberg edited by Bill Morgan

“If you are in any ennui or doldrums, lift up your heart, there IS something new under the sun.” This line opened a letter Allen Ginsberg wrote to Jack Kerouac in July of 1950. The newness he was writing about was a relationship. “Ah, Jack,” he continues later in the missive, “I always said that I would be a great lover some day. I am, I am at last.”

Most everyone is familiar with the work of poet Allen Ginsberg, but few had reason to know that he was also a fabulous -- and prolific -- correspondent. Editor Bill Morgan -- Ginsberg’s archivist and biographer -- reports that he sifted through nearly 4000 Ginsberg letters to come up with the 165 reproduced in The Letters of Allen Ginsberg (Da Capo). “Strictly speaking,” Morgan tells us, “a man of letters is not someone who has written a lot of letters but rather someone who is actively engaged in the literary and intellectual world. Allen Ginsberg was both.”

Morgan has -- once again -- done a terrific job with Ginsberg’s words. In many ways, what we have here is the very heart of the Beat Generation. A wonderful book.

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