The Portable Beat Reader by Ann Charters

The Portable Beat Reader

Beginning in the late 1940s, American literature discovered a four-letter word, and the word was "beat." Beat as in poverty and beatitude, ecstacy and exile. Beat was Jack Kerouac touring the American road in prose as fast and reckless as a V-8 Chevy. It was the junk-sick surrealism of William Burroughs, the wild, Whitmanesque poetry of Allen Ginsberg, and the lumberjack Zen of Gary Snyder. "The Portable Beat Reader" collects the most significant...

Details The Portable Beat Reader

TitleThe Portable Beat Reader
Release DateNov 1st, 1992
PublisherPenguin Books
GenrePoetry, Fiction, Classics, Anthologies

Reviews The Portable Beat Reader

  • Anton
    A necessity. Not a book you need to plow through in its entirety, but reassuring to have on the shelf, to dip into now and again to check one's cynicism, recalibrate the moral compass. However naive the Beats' idealism sometimes seems, and however unfortunately susceptible to caricature they've become in the popular imagination, they remain an essential component of American literature and culture. Whether their ethos is really livable, possible,...
  • brass
    I brought it with me to New York in 1994 to The Beat Writers' Conference @ NYU. I was still leaking breast milk. I touched knees with Allen Ginsberg while he rambled on and signed his name next to 'America'.Fuck the Government. I am a romantic like that.
  • Amy
    I read this book when I was 16, and by 17, I was off on an adventure that lasted until I was 35. I still, to this day, long for freedom and for the open road. Of a childish life of multiple romances and endless celebration from town to town, countryside to countryside. Thank you Ginsberg. Thank you Kerouac. Thank you Thank you, William S. Burroughs. Xoxo
  • Julia
    Marking this as read because half is more than enough.
  • Simon Robs
    Ann Charters' assemblage of Beat/Gen. personalities and the best of their poetry/bop prosody is fine fettle casting an era of divergence from post-war/Cold War ennui and set the stage for 60's/70's upheaval war protest that split the country leading eventually to our present day polarization and identity politics quagmire. We learn that Beat lit was a lot more than just "Howl" and "On The Road" and "Naked Lunch" even if those remain the pillars o...
  • Ann
    Poets, drug addicts, criminals, alcoholics, hedonists, ne'er-do-wells, agitators, college dropouts, social revolutionaries; the Beats were the voice of the Lost Generation born (mostly) between two world wars, looking for fresh artistic outlets and ideas away from those approved by contemporary academe. They found them.
  • Christopher
    A beautiful, wide swath of Beat goodness. C'mon y'all, they only changed the world.
  • Devin Proctor
    Boo fucking hoo.
  • David
    there is nothing wrong with this book. it is comprehensive and compiled well. i should just remember that compilations of authors aren't my cup of tea. in theory they are a great idea. but in practice it just isn't enough to hold my attention for very long. just as i start to read something i truly enjoy, it ends and then starts something i don't like. but, it did give me some leads into who of The Beats i would like to read next.
  • Miguel Vega
    3.4 I liked most of the poets featured & added many great works to my TBR. The Beat Generation marked their presence with their difference into our great literary canon.
  • Lola
    As a huge Kerouac fan, I've always been fascinated with the Beat Generation. I picked this up at an used bookstore on a whim, hoping to learn more about the writers who seemed to shape a generation in the way the Lost Generation did. What I really learned from The Portable Beat Reader is that I hate excerpts. Ann Charter's Portable Beat Reader is extremely inclusive. She guides you through all the sections of the Beats Generation: Kerouac's grou...
  • Donald
    A really nice sampling of “beat” literature! Sort of like a greatest hits compilation! Parts 1-3 were full of writings that I love, and that were wonderful to revisit! I especially enjoyed reading the "Joan Anderson" piece! Part 4 fell pretty flat for me, as did part 6 and the appendix. But Part 5 was my joy! The writings in it gave me the feeling of the people on the periphery of the Beats - the children, lovers, spouses, etc.! I really glor...
  • Stuart
    The sea darkensthe voices of the wild ducksare faintly white
  • Maya Day
    you can't have a Beat reader, have a "San Francisco Renaissance" section and not have Kenneth Patchen =]
  • Charlie
    Question: i just read about a reading list that Ginsberg provided Cassady to further his writing. Has anyone ever seen such a thing?
  • Kmkoppy
    It took me a long time to get through this but it was an excellent review of the many beat poets and how they were all connected. I enjoyed their later works more than their early works because they seemed more experienced and wise about life. Maybe it's because I'm old now too. I gave it only 3 stars because beat composition is not my favorite - not because the book itself wasn't well done. The author did an excellent job of reviewing each write...
  • Jay
    Useful for historical purposes.
  • Mazsuria Razif
  • Blake
    Peace's Red Riding quarter jumps forward three years, this time following the screwed up lives of half-decent police officer Bob Fraser, and burned out journalist Jack Whitehead. Both are dangerously obsessed with Chapeltown prostitutes, and are sucked into an investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper's slaughter of these women. Both men are dangerously on the edge, and the plot follows the hollow, desperate plummet of their lives as events overwhe...
  • Beth
    I read about 1/2 of this book in November, while I was on my trip to Rome, and I really enjoyed it, but found some of the featured authors a bit plodding. And yet, I picked it up to fill in some gaps in my historical knowledge of the movements of that period and some history of the city I live in (San Francisco), and influences to my social circles and lifestyle. I had no idea how much of an influence this small group of notable "Beats" had on so...
  • Rachel
    I wasn't sure how to rate this book. It was a well edited volume, I'm just not crazy about the raw material. However, having published on Kerouac, I know feel better having more Beat under my belt. And it was nice not to have to read these works in their entirety.That's not to say I didn't enjoy any of them. I really love Ginsberg's poetry, and I'd never read Kaddish before. There were other good pieces as well, but there were also several that r...
  • Stephanie
    If memory serves me, I probably bought this book when I was 19 or 20 years old. I read several selections at the time, largely from authors or poets I already had interested in, and then this book sat on my shelf for a number of years. Fast forward to summer vacation 2008, and wanting something to pass the time. Being over 600 pages, it takes quite a bit of time to get through, but by in large the gems highlighted are truly worth your time. The b...
  • Dana
    I must admit, that there was a good portion of this book that I just skimmed. I found most of the beat poems to be dry and self important. That being said, the sections that were about the poets themselves, was extremely fascinating and there were some poets that I didn't think I would enjoy, and now find myself searching for their work to read more about them. While I didn't read a portion of this book, I'm still giving it four stars. This is a ...
  • H Lamar
    A precise overview of the best writings, poems and earth songs throughout the golden era of a literary rebirth. Ann Charters has a direct line into the culture, she can be trusted. I recommend this to anyone who genuinely loves poetry. If you are stuck on Alexander Pope, TS Eliot or formalist poetry then go away, this is not for you and you would complain about "what is poetry" the whole time.NOW, if you love literature. If you live to consume mo...
  • John
    While it is great that this exists, as there are few anthologies of 'beat' writers, I think that the selections fall short of an accurate depiction of some of the writers featured. While this is only of mild annoyance to someone well-read in the beat cannon who can simply go and pick up their copy of 'On the Road' for further review, it is actually of a much more sinister nature when in the hands of someone just starting out with the beats, as th...
  • Williwaw
    I'm getting ready to see the movie, "Howl," so I read the poem this morning, along with "A Supermarket in California." Is Ginsburg the 20th Century Walt Whitman? Certainly, I think he wanted to be something like that. Howl is very trippy! I was moved by the language, but I am not conversant with all the personal references. It seems that one needs to know something about the Beat circle in order to fully understand this poem. I think "Howl" might...
  • Jennifer
    From New York to San Francisco, this book is essential for anyone looking to further delve into the stories behind the authors of the beatnik era. A great reference point for anyone reading Kerouac, as character analysis is provided (a great in between book before beginning On the Road or Dharma Bums for your second or third time). Ann Charters gives a colourful portrayal of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs and Cassady, as well as the not so famous b...
  • Ayne Ray
    An excellent anthology including analytical narratives and representative examples of some of the best works of the Beat movement, covering the most recognized figures (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Cassidy, etc.) as well as those less familiar to the general reader. While I thought the author’s definition of what constituted a Beat writer was too expansive, as it included many who were more influenced by the Beat authors than were actual Beat ...
  • Kent
    I like some of the work of some of the Beats on their own some of the time but I haven't enjoyed considering them as a movement. For whatever reason they annoy me even though some of my favorite writing comes out of the mid-60s to early 70s and that writing owes so much to them. It compares to a favorite tv show that struggled to find it's way and you love the later seasons but going back to the first couple of seasons where they found their stri...