The Portable Beat Reader, Paperback

The Portable Beat Reader Paperback

Edited by Ann Charters

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Beginning in the late 1940's, American literature discovered a four-letter word, and the word was "beat." Beat as in poverty and beatitude, ecstasy and exile.

Beat was Jack Kerouac touring the American road in prose as fast and reckless as a V-8 Chevy.

It was the junk-sick surrealism of William Burroughs; the wild, Whitmanesque poetry of Allen Ginsberg; and the lumberjack Zen of Gary Snyder. "The Portable Beat Reader" collects the most significant writing of these and fellow members (and spiritual descendants) of the Beat Generation, including Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima, Bob Dylan, Leroi Jones, and Michael McClure.

In poetry, fiction, essays, song lyrics, letters, and memoirs, it captures the triumphant rudeness, energy, and exhilaration of a movement that swept through American letters with hurricane force.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 688 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Anthologies (non-poetry)
  • ISBN: 9780142437537



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

This is a good smorgasbord of beat lit. For people who want a good overview, you will find it here. As with any anthology there are some people whose inclusion is questionable, but that just gives more grist for the mill.

Review by

So you have been sitting around the house wondering what to do? Smoking some reefer and listening to jazz? Then must be just about time for you to flip through The Portable Beat Reader. It gives you a good glimpse at all the usual subjects: Burroughs, Kerouac, Ginsberg, etal...and also may give you a glimpse into some you may not have known: DiPrima, Corso, Casady. Overall you would be much better served by picking up some favorite pieces by the ones you enjoy, but half the fun in life is picking up on something you have never read before and digging it. There can be no better place for an introduction to beat writing of any sort than right here...Now go throw on your Bud Powell record and use that LP cover for something besides storing an album. Groovy