Herbert Huncke Reader

Herbert Huncke, Author, Benjamin G. Schafer, Editor
Herbert Huncke, Author, Benjamin G. Schafer, Editor William Morrow & Company $24 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-15266-6
Reviewed on: 12/01/1970
Release date: 12/01/1941
""[He] was the sensitive vehicle for a veritable new consciousness,"" Allen Ginsberg wrote of Huncke, the East Village junkie, raconteur and sometime thief and hustler who was shocking les bourgeois before Jack Kerouac ever sat at a typewriter. Huncke (1915-1996) spent a middle-class childhood in Chicago, experimenting with drugs and homosexuality, and moved to New York City when he was 24. In 1944, he met William Burroughs, who introduced him to Ginsberg and Kerouac; all three Beat writers would later use him as characters in their works. Huncke's chronicle, in brief, semi-autobiographical vignettes drawn from his journals of New York City's bohemian scene, is one of the most valuable parts of this collection, which comprises the full text of Huncke's Journal and The Evening Sky Turned Crimson, excerpts from his memoir, Guilty of Everything, and a section of previously unpublished material. Huncke can be oddly prim and uninsightful, and the collection, edited by poet Schafer, suffers from redundancy and a lack of explanatory footnotes. But the nonjudgmental eye that so enlightened the Beats is still refreshing today. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
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