Monday, January 17, 2011

Beat / French Books

I've just read an interview with Neal Cassady's wife on the Guardian website. She sounded nice, but it reminded me that I've never liked any of these famous beat generation people - Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg and so on. I've always found them annoying. I mean, riding around on a bus, listening to bebop and taking drugs, what's so great about that? Sounds terrible to me.

Hmmm. Why don't I like these people? I'm not certain. It's so long since I read On the Road I can't remember why I didn't like it. Maybe it's just an irrational prejudice, of which I have my share. It may possibly be because they all had exciting adventures which I would not be able to manage. Yes, that may be the real reason. Damn them for having interesting lives.

I'm right about bebop however. Surely it was always unlistenable. If you wanted great music in the 50s then R&B was much more entertaining. As long ago as 1946, there were great records like Roy Brown's Good Rockin' Tonight, and then of course the epic Rocket 88, written by Ike Turner in 1951.


After offering some free copies of the French edition of Lonely Werewolf Girl in my last blog, I realised, sadly, that I had made the mistake of getting involved in an activity which would require me to think. Having no idea of who to give the books to, I finally wrote down a number for each reply left then stuck a pin in the sheet of paper. This competition may not have satisfied the high standards required by the local gaming commission. Nonetheless, my winners are -

1 Simon Anderson

2 Marjorie

So if these people would like to email me via my website at to give me their addresses, I'll post you the books.


  1. Oooooohh!
    Happy Bounce

    (rushing off to email right now!!)

    also, ThankyouThankyouThankyou

  2. Simon Anderson1:29 pm

    Likewise thanks a lot, Martin! Learning of this was a great way to start my day.

  3. Anonymous2:36 pm

    I liked On the Road as a teenager, but found his descriptions of those exciting jazz gigs equally puzzling. How come these guys missed rock'n'roll?

    It 's the same feeling as watching Rebel Without a Cause and realizing there is not a single note of rock in it. Like it happened in a parallel reality.

  4. On an unrelated note, I was looking at Amazon yesterday to see whether Absolute Sandman has been reduced to a price I can afford. The first on the list of other "Bookes this author (Neil Gaiman) has written" was 'The Good Fairies of New York'

    Should someone tell them, do you think?

  5. "I'm right about bebop however."

    No, you're not. :-)

  6. Dear Anonymous: they didn't "miss" rock & roll. During the '50s rock & roll was heavily censored & banned, also not on many radio stations. Bebop wasn't on the radio at all, hardly. You had to go to clubs in a few big cities. I don't recall EVER being able to go to a rock & roll show. These usually took place in auditoriums or theaters, plus state fairs. There were no clubs to speak of, and teenagers certainly couldn't go if there had been.

    In any case not a question of either/or. But if anything, bebop was "hard" music for dangerous adults, and rock & roll was devil music that kids shouldn't listen to. Bebop is also earlier. And neither genre was readily accessible for most people. Turn on the radio, and you'd hear "How Much is That Doggie in the Window," not Jerry Lee Lewis. :-(

  7. Anonymous10:01 pm

    Well, thanks for exposing my gross generalization, TaosJohn. I enjoyed your explanation. :)

  8. Anonymous12:46 pm

    Martin, I too have spent many years puzzling over why I don't like 'On the Road'. I read it when I was 23, not long after 'Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation' (which I loved) and couldn't really seeh what all the fuss was about. I'm so glad to find someone else who agrees.


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  10. What was Neal Cassady famous for anyway? Hanging about with some writers? I could do that. And Jack Kerouac lived with his mum. I pretty much feel the same way as about the 'Beaties' as you. If I was in a pub with Alan Ginsberg he'd be the type to opine loudly about stuff just as the football on sky was getting interesting. Someone would come up and tell him to shut up and I'd get involved, probably getting punched on his behalf. Twat