Ferlinghetti, the Artist in His Time

Barry Silesky, Author Warner Books $24.45 (294p) ISBN 978-0-446-51491-0
This sympathetic biography of one of the most popular poets from the Beat era details Lawrence Ferlinghetti's career from his early years--born in 1919, ``both parents gone before he was two, abandoned at six''--to present-day San Francisco, where he is ``increasingly a presence in civic affairs.'' Silesky, a freelance writer, shows how Ferlinghetti's life and poetry have been influenced continually by two main themes: the sense of how ``the outsider was an inextricable part of his identity'' and his ``social and political commitment.'' Although an exhaustive account by a biographer who clearly admires Ferlinghetti's work and who had access to his journals, the book does not look deeply or consistently beyond the facts. Phrases such as ``Ferlinghetti's journal asks directly the reasons for his compulsion to travel, but never finds a direct answer'' serve as an incomplete means to the source of the poet's troubled personal life. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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