I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–1997

Edited by Bill Morgan. City Lights, $17.95 trade paper (292p) ISBN 978-0-87286-678-2
Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti will forever be linked as the respective writer and publisher of Howl, and this irresistible collection of their correspondence shows the depth of their friendship and working relationship. The letters, many previously unpublished, cover such matters as the deletion of Lucien Carr’s name from the dedication of Howl and William Burroughs’s censorship issues, which prompt Ferlinghetti to write that publishing Naked Lunch would be “indulging in... premeditated legal lunacy.” Ginsberg discusses his self-doubt, financial difficulties, and efforts to help his friends get published, not to mention such entertaining escapades as trying laughing gas. Ferlinghetti discusses editing anthologies, making a stab at writing plays, and running City Lights Bookstore, including an instance when poet Gregory Corso broke into the store and stole money. These details should interest even casual readers, but devotees will find most rewarding the book’s central revelation: that while Ginsberg was Beat Poetry’s face, Ferlinghetti was its hero, the key to so many great writers’ success. Their affectionate correspondence becomes spottier as they make the switch to telephone calls, but the later letters are as striking and stirring as their very first exchanges. Morgan has assembled an impressive volume that is a must for every Beat aficionado. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/27/2015
Release date: 06/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 284 pages - 978-0-87286-686-7
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