cover image Little Boy

Little Boy

Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Doubleday, $23 (192p) ISBN 978-0-385-54478-8

“I’ve always been off in my own burb in some suburb of consciousness dreaming away or otherwise goofing off,” writes the author of this wonderfully effusive autobiographical prose poem. Ferlinghetti (A Coney Island of the Mind, etc.), who turns 100 this year, offers a lyrical accounting of his life, both the “Me-me-me,” with whom he identifies, and “the Other,” who is his “shadow self.” He also reflects on his private preoccupations with such broader issues as “ecological meltdown,” third-world politics, and the “bad breath... of industrial civilization”—what he refers to as a way “to find the universal in the particular.” He provides vivid memories of his tumultuous childhood, shuttled between family, orphanages, and the foster family he eventually chose for his own, and his wartime experiences as part of the D-Day invasion. Ferlinghetti’s prose pulses with the enjambments that energized the beats, whose work he published (famously, Ginsberg’s Howl), and it’s punctuated with such stunningly evocative metaphors as his recall of himself in Paris in 1948 as “a little like Conrad carrying Coleridge’s albatross and the albatross my past”—one of the numerous literary allusions that pepper the text. This book is a Proustian celebration of both memory and moments that will delight readers. (Mar.)