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Memoirs of a Beatnik PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Memoirs of a Beatnik
Author: Diane di Prima
Publisher: Published August 1st 1998 by Penguin Books (first published 1969)
ISBN: 9780140235395
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Long regarded as an underground classic for its gritty and unabashedly erotic portrayal of the Beat years, Memoirs of a Beatnik is a moving account of a powerful woman artist coming of age sensually and intellectually in a movement dominated by a small confederacy of men, many of whom she lived with and loved. Filled with anecdotes about her adventures in New York City, Di Long regarded as an underground classic for its gritty and unabashedly erotic portrayal of the Beat years, Memoirs of a Beatnik is a moving account of a powerful woman artist coming of age sensually and intellectually in a movement dominated by a small confederacy of men, many of whom she lived with and loved. Filled with anecdotes about her adventures in New York City, Diane di Prima's memoir shows her learning to "raise her rebellion into art," and making her way toward literary success. Memoirs of a Beatnik offers a fascinating narrative about the courage and triumphs of the imagination.

30 review for Memoirs of a Beatnik

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

    What I wanted was to know what it was like for a woman to be part of such an amazing scene and time, what I got was a lot of unsavory descriptions of casual sex with multiple partners. I had no idea I'd become such a prude.

  2. 4 out of 5

    M.F. Soriano

    A schizophrenic book, with two distinct personalities: hardcore smut and bohemian memoir. It starts out on the smutty side--the first three chapters are basically quick set-ups for sex scenes--and the sex is written about in classic porno style (lots of lines like "I took his huge, throbbing cock into my hungry, wet pussy."). Fun to read, though I didn't find it erotic enough to actually get my blood moving. What kept me reading was the other side of the story, those glimpses of bohemian life, o A schizophrenic book, with two distinct personalities: hardcore smut and bohemian memoir. It starts out on the smutty side--the first three chapters are basically quick set-ups for sex scenes--and the sex is written about in classic porno style (lots of lines like "I took his huge, throbbing cock into my hungry, wet pussy."). Fun to read, though I didn't find it erotic enough to actually get my blood moving. What kept me reading was the other side of the story, those glimpses of bohemian life, of life as lived by someone with no real interest in making even a somewhat comfortable living. Poverty and squalor, free-spirited artists, fags and outcasts. The account is hardly cohesive, and could be more eloquent in its delivery, but it feels real, and it covers a truly fascinating time period--the start of the American counterculture movement, a decade before the 60s (di Prima guesses that there are maybe another 400 or so bohemian types in the entire United States during this period, and I believe her). I'm currently reading di Prima's more "proper" memoir, Recollections of My Life as a Woman, written several decades later, and compared to this it feels like an old lady's whine-fest. Memoirs of a Beatnik might be sort of juvenile, with it's hormone-driven sex-obsession and it's wide-eyed naivete, but frankly, it's all the better for it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    Sometimes evocative, mostly just depressingly bad. There's an unpleasant whiff of internalized misogyny in di Prima's digressions about birth control, sex, and unconventional domestic arrangements. Her work as a poet and writer are left totally vague during the years she spent in Manhattan. Kerouac and Ginsberg are trotted out like caricatures. This fictionalized autobiography could have been so interesting. A female poet's perspective on the proto-beatnik scene of 1950's New York is a rarity; I Sometimes evocative, mostly just depressingly bad. There's an unpleasant whiff of internalized misogyny in di Prima's digressions about birth control, sex, and unconventional domestic arrangements. Her work as a poet and writer are left totally vague during the years she spent in Manhattan. Kerouac and Ginsberg are trotted out like caricatures. This fictionalized autobiography could have been so interesting. A female poet's perspective on the proto-beatnik scene of 1950's New York is a rarity; I wish a) the writing was better, b) the book had some structure other than a loose chronology, and c) she hadn't gone along with her publisher's demand for tons of ludicrous sex scenes. The book peters out in San Francisco, 1968 -- another huge missed opportunity for insight. A worthwhile read for the odd details here and there about street life and the beginnings of mid-century counterculture, but not much else.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Suad Shamma

    I am going to make this short and sweet. I absolutely hated this book. I am far from being a prude, but the content of this book was neither worth my time nor money and I was majorly disappointed that it could even be called a memoir - of a beatnik no less. How interesting, I thought. The feminist in me thought how interesting it would be to read about beatniks from a woman's perspective. Diane Di Prima is not someone I ever want to read or know anything about. Here's how one reviewer put it best I am going to make this short and sweet. I absolutely hated this book. I am far from being a prude, but the content of this book was neither worth my time nor money and I was majorly disappointed that it could even be called a memoir - of a beatnik no less. How interesting, I thought. The feminist in me thought how interesting it would be to read about beatniks from a woman's perspective. Diane Di Prima is not someone I ever want to read or know anything about. Here's how one reviewer put it best: "Porn, porn, porn. Let's see: chapter 1, sex with Ivan. Chapter 2, recollection of the first time she had sex with Ivan. Chapter 3, sex with Robin (a man in love with Ivan). Chapter 4, Sex with Tomi (a female friend). Chapter 5, Tomi has sex with Tomi's brother (incest). Chapter 6, Sex with 4 other women. Chapter 7, sex with Tomi's father Serge. Chapter 8, sex with young Jack and some guy with big ears while runaway girl watches. And so it goes, through all the chapters. So, if you're looking for a "spank" book, then check it out. If you're looking for a book about the beats from a woman's perspective (as it is boldly proclaimed on the front cover), look somewhere else." The most uninteresting, disgusting life ever. And the ending was the most anticlimactic I've read. How do you think a memoir focused on a woman having nothing but sex for 14 chapters end? Why, she gets knocked up of course. Give me a break.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    I laugh at all the negative reviews of the book because all they saw was a pornographic novel, which is true, because that is what is was written as. But there is stuff hidden beneath the surface that you really don't notice until the last chapter. This was a woman who was beat outside of the beats for a long time. She was someone outside of Kerouac and Ginsberg's circle, so she wasn't even aware the was a thing called Beat until she read Howl. But most of the sex was written just to satisfy her I laugh at all the negative reviews of the book because all they saw was a pornographic novel, which is true, because that is what is was written as. But there is stuff hidden beneath the surface that you really don't notice until the last chapter. This was a woman who was beat outside of the beats for a long time. She was someone outside of Kerouac and Ginsberg's circle, so she wasn't even aware the was a thing called Beat until she read Howl. But most of the sex was written just to satisfy her publishers so she could get paid. And I think the Author's note and the Afterword says a lot to why she wrote this book the way she did. Now I went into this book knowing what to expect because my teacher warned us before reading it for my Beat class. So yes I can understand why you would be disappointed. But the focus on sex was only to satisfy the publisher since a lot of it was made up. Even the term beatnik was the Hollywood term for the Beats and so you could see that it really isn't something that she could term "serious" writing as she mentions in her afterword.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lizzy

    This book is 80% hyped up erotica (which becomes fairly predictable after the first couple chapters, boring even) and 20% reality. It is worth reading for that 20%, the glimpse through the keyhole of how the Beat artists, poets, writers and actors lived in 1950s New York City, in all its splendid grittiness. There are intriguing paragraphs about foraging for wood to burn in dumpy West-side apartments, subsisting on vats of oatmeal, stale bread and endless cups of sweet, milky coffee, sleeping fo This book is 80% hyped up erotica (which becomes fairly predictable after the first couple chapters, boring even) and 20% reality. It is worth reading for that 20%, the glimpse through the keyhole of how the Beat artists, poets, writers and actors lived in 1950s New York City, in all its splendid grittiness. There are intriguing paragraphs about foraging for wood to burn in dumpy West-side apartments, subsisting on vats of oatmeal, stale bread and endless cups of sweet, milky coffee, sleeping four on a pull-out couch in rat infested digs where rodents are the size of housecats, reading books - any books, all books (Homeric Greek primers, books about revolutions, multi-volume histories of the Republic, Beat poetry though it was not yet known as such), clanking away on typewriters, scribbling in dog-eared notebooks, taking odd jobs (art model, porn model, marriage-buster for hire, secretary, shopkeeper), getting high on hashish and cheap wine, hobnobbing with New York’s underworld , making excursions into the "country" (a bucolic interlude on the Hudson playing earth-mama to three men, a surreal outing with a sexually dysfunctional family in Darien who read like a twisted version of the Addams Family). However to get to all this good stuff you have to wade through other paragraphs (many others) of what amounts to cheap and even boring porn. There are only so many ways you can do “it”, and these are replayed for us over and over with a seemingly endless cast of funky characters, male and female. MORE SEX! her editor demanded, and that is what di Prima gave him because she was hard up for cash in 1969, trying to support a baby and a motley household of unemployed hangers-on in her new home in San Francisco. Towards the end of the book she slips in a mea culpa: we read a sub-chapter, “Evening by the Fire, Maybe” which plays out like a Fellini film with too many body parts intertwined on the couch, contrasted by “Evening by the Fire, Actually” – a modest scene of domesticity in which our players read, write, and nap in separate corners of the living room but never too far from the only source of heat – the wood fire. This and an admission in the Afterword that scenes were spiced up for print (like adding oregano to tomato sauce as she put it) leave us wondering just what the split is between fact and fiction. Here is one book where the facts are much more interesting than the made-up stuff.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marley

    Kind of awesome. Absolutely LOADED with high-detail explicit polyeverything sex, but in a way that irks me a whole lot less than Henry Miller (because it's not ragingly sexist, funny that) or even Anais Nin (because it's not as oooh and aahhh about the whole thing). It's also (mostly, except for a couple of really awful incidents) really quite hot, and an interesting look at the whole having-sex-with-your-friends-in-the-bushes impulse that artsy types tend to get sometimes. Note that Di Prima wro Kind of awesome. Absolutely LOADED with high-detail explicit polyeverything sex, but in a way that irks me a whole lot less than Henry Miller (because it's not ragingly sexist, funny that) or even Anais Nin (because it's not as oooh and aahhh about the whole thing). It's also (mostly, except for a couple of really awful incidents) really quite hot, and an interesting look at the whole having-sex-with-your-friends-in-the-bushes impulse that artsy types tend to get sometimes. Note that Di Prima wrote porn to get by in this period, and clearly some of that sensibility leaks through. Apparently for those works she'd get her friends to (fully-clothed) try out positions with her to see if they were even remotely feasible, and I do wonder how much this stuff got projected backwards. She's not naive about that issue--There is a hilarious part where she clearly tweaks the reader, describing an orgy for 3 pages under the title "What you wish had happened" before she cuts it off with "What actually happened", which is a bunch of people sharing an apartment and being cold and hungry and bored. In between all the squelchy noises and the moaning (which really is a large portion of the book, even finally throwing in an orgy with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and about 3 other people to seal the deal), is a really piercing look at the bums, runaways and, yes, 'bohemians' getting high, getting laid and trying to get by in New York on the Lower East Side right before this whole Beat thing broke open wide. A great look at the odd jobs, the drug habits, the crash pads, attempts to create a little bit of art, the slang, the creepy predators, and all the rest that was going on at the time. Di Prima is a really still- fresh voice, one I think was criminally underrated while everyone was busy worshiping every little "Pome" Kerouac ever dribbled out. One that manages to look past the macho self-aggrandizement of that movement and into its day-to-day life.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    The title caught my eye in the secondhand bookstore. I've never really understood what a beatnik was, beyond vaguaries like counter culture, poetry and erm wearing black turtlenecks. I turned to the forward of the book in which the author recalls being asked by a student after she gave a poetry reading in the late 60s 'whatever happened to all the beatniks?' She replied something along the lines of, well sweety some of us sold out and became hippies. This confused me. Wasn't the hippy movement, The title caught my eye in the secondhand bookstore. I've never really understood what a beatnik was, beyond vaguaries like counter culture, poetry and erm wearing black turtlenecks. I turned to the forward of the book in which the author recalls being asked by a student after she gave a poetry reading in the late 60s 'whatever happened to all the beatniks?' She replied something along the lines of, well sweety some of us sold out and became hippies. This confused me. Wasn't the hippy movement, cohesive as you could claim it to be, about not selling out being anti establishment etc as well? So my interest was piqued and I wanted to know what then was the beatnik movement about. Well so what did this book tell me? Nothing. Lots of sex. Ridiculous long passages about shagging this person and that. And then towards the end she talks about writing a book and getting the manuscript back from the publisher with 'good, add more sex' written in red pen. And then it dawns on you, this is that book. And then you realise its probably therefore made up to fit the publishers demands for a racy page turner. Was that what she meant by selling out? But I don't see what that has to do with being a hippy. Wikipedia claims it is a fictionalized account - but fails to mention its also tedious and not very well written.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    Before grunge, before punks, before goths and emos and hippies and hipsters, there were beatniks. In a post-war era where women were expected to look, act and think a certain way, the author of this book was a woman living as a beatnik, wearing unconventional styles, listening to poetry, learning about the world around her and doing things that at the time were unheard of. Memoirs of a Beatnik is the best and most honest view of a beatnik that you're going to get.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    this book is very bohemian and smutty, and i am loving it very much. If you're into beat literature, erotic literature, feminist literature, then read this. It's amazing.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mérita Selimi

    Disappointing! I really expected her to show us what is was like to be part of such an inspirational movement, time, city... It's a shame she only writes a few words about it in the last third of the book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    verbava

    "мемуари бітниці" свого часу опублікувало видавництво "олімпія" (у тій самій серії, де міллера, берроуза, де сада і "лоліту"), тож уже це трохи натякає на зміст. і справді: тут усі трахаються. узагалі-то про цю книжку пишуть, що це поєднання порнухи з історією нью-йоркської богеми п'ятдесятих років, але секс залишає дуже мало місця на щось іще. і навіть коли заходить про богемне життя, зводиться воно насамперед до того, як трахаються представники богеми. це звідси походить чудесне про груповуху "мемуари бітниці" свого часу опублікувало видавництво "олімпія" (у тій самій серії, де міллера, берроуза, де сада і "лоліту"), тож уже це трохи натякає на зміст. і справді: тут усі трахаються. узагалі-то про цю книжку пишуть, що це поєднання порнухи з історією нью-йоркської богеми п'ятдесятих років, але секс залишає дуже мало місця на щось іще. і навіть коли заходить про богемне життя, зводиться воно насамперед до того, як трахаються представники богеми. це звідси походить чудесне про груповуху з гінзбергом і керуаком: It was a strange, nondescript kind of orgy. <...> It was warm and friendly and very unsexy—like being in a bathtub with four other people. назва, до речі, оманлива: художньої літератури в "мемуарах", мабуть, більше, ніж оригінальних подій. у післямові діана ді пріма розповідає, як у процесі писання деколи просила співмешканців проілюструвати якісь особливо вигадливі позиції, щоб подивитися, чи вони фізично можливі. бо що ще робити, коли грошей дуже треба, видавець просить у тебе "більше сексу", а ти занадто літераторка, щоби копіпейстити фрагменти з попередніх розділів.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Terrie Schweitzer

    There was something unsettling to me about this book, and I finally honed in on what it was when I got to the very end, in author's afterward. So I'm glad the edition I had included this. This is the memoir of a Beat-then-Hippie poet and writer, centering on the Beat years in New York. It's certainly entertaining, though not as satisfying as, say, Patti Smith's Just Kids, which it reminded me of in some respects (it's the story of being a poor artist in Manhattan). This book landed in front of me There was something unsettling to me about this book, and I finally honed in on what it was when I got to the very end, in author's afterward. So I'm glad the edition I had included this. This is the memoir of a Beat-then-Hippie poet and writer, centering on the Beat years in New York. It's certainly entertaining, though not as satisfying as, say, Patti Smith's Just Kids, which it reminded me of in some respects (it's the story of being a poor artist in Manhattan). This book landed in front of me just as I was eagerly seeking out women Beatnik work...loaned by a friend to another friend who declared she couldn't read it. "It's pornagraphic!". Well of course I grabbed it up eagerly, and she's more or less right. There's a lot of graphic sex, but I was left oddly cold by it. Something in the descriptions just felt...somehow lacking. The key, I think, is in what the author says about writing these scenes in the afterward. I'll leave that to you to discover on your own, but it vastly improved my overall opinion of the book in an interesting way.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Geena

    If you want to read a novel that is pretty much purely pornographic, then you will love this book. It is incredibly well-written and di Prima has a serious knack for descriptive imagery. I went into this novel thinking I would be reading about the overall life experiences of a female beatnik, not just the sexual life experiences. Thus, I was vastly disappointed with Memoirs of a Beatnik. However, what saved this book from a 1 star rating, were the few passages that were amazing descriptions of t If you want to read a novel that is pretty much purely pornographic, then you will love this book. It is incredibly well-written and di Prima has a serious knack for descriptive imagery. I went into this novel thinking I would be reading about the overall life experiences of a female beatnik, not just the sexual life experiences. Thus, I was vastly disappointed with Memoirs of a Beatnik. However, what saved this book from a 1 star rating, were the few passages that were amazing descriptions of the energy and lifestyle of that time in NYC. It is no doubt di Prima is an excellent writer, this was just not her finest work. I should mention that she was under enormous pressure from her publisher to "sex up" the book, so that explains a lot of the unsavory sex scenes that are strewn throughout the novel. If you want to read a novel written about the Beat generation through a woman's eyes, skip this one and look at her other bodies of work.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Emily Evans

    Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diane di Prima was not what I expected it to be, it was far better. For some reason – classic hipster – I thought it would be reminiscent of Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsburg. It was not. It was it’s own completely unique, beautiful voice, it was a thunderous epiphany of a female and passion, it was cacophonous melancholy and life, it was Diane di Prima. And she lived. SHE LIVED! She truly dangled her female figure over New York City and absorbed its creative, innovative vision Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diane di Prima was not what I expected it to be, it was far better. For some reason – classic hipster – I thought it would be reminiscent of Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsburg. It was not. It was it’s own completely unique, beautiful voice, it was a thunderous epiphany of a female and passion, it was cacophonous melancholy and life, it was Diane di Prima. And she lived. SHE LIVED! She truly dangled her female figure over New York City and absorbed its creative, innovative vision. She let herself love and pleasure and revel and rebel. She let go of her body and was a drifting spirit, a child of wants and needs and desires. This book made me question so may things about the way i live my life, the way I formulate what and how i do. Check out my list of things to do after reading at literarypixie.com!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hazel McNellis

    "Nächte in New York" ist ein Buch, dass ich bei einem Bücherflohmarkt vor etlichen Jahren erstanden habe. Der Inhalt mutet zunächst pornographisch an. Doch im Kern geht es dennoch darum, wie eine junge Frau der sogenannten Beat-Generation in New York endgültig erwachsen wird. Sie befindet sich auf einer ständigen Reise, eine andauernde Entdeckung - nicht nur ihrer selbst. Diane Di Prima hat meiner Meinung nach einen Roman geschaffen, der Poesie, Porno und Politik/Gesellschaft ziemlich geschickt "Nächte in New York" ist ein Buch, dass ich bei einem Bücherflohmarkt vor etlichen Jahren erstanden habe. Der Inhalt mutet zunächst pornographisch an. Doch im Kern geht es dennoch darum, wie eine junge Frau der sogenannten Beat-Generation in New York endgültig erwachsen wird. Sie befindet sich auf einer ständigen Reise, eine andauernde Entdeckung - nicht nur ihrer selbst. Diane Di Prima hat meiner Meinung nach einen Roman geschaffen, der Poesie, Porno und Politik/Gesellschaft ziemlich geschickt miteinander vereint. Mir hat ein Satz dabei ganz besonders gut gefallen: " - irgend etwas in meinen Zellen wisperte, daß die Szene, in der ich mich bewegt hatte, nicht alles war, daß es andere Lebensumstände zu entdecken galt." (S.192)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katya Zabelski

    Honestly, I enjoyed this book. Yes, it was frustrating that it wasn't more focused on what it was like to be a woman beatnik and the world surrounding her, but I thought the book was pretty well written and it kept me engaged. The sex scenes were plenty and I genuinely enjoyed reading them and thought that the sex scenes were part of what made this a strong feminist novel. Yes, her ideas of birth control and male and female roles in the household were outdated, but her blunt ideas on polygamy an Honestly, I enjoyed this book. Yes, it was frustrating that it wasn't more focused on what it was like to be a woman beatnik and the world surrounding her, but I thought the book was pretty well written and it kept me engaged. The sex scenes were plenty and I genuinely enjoyed reading them and thought that the sex scenes were part of what made this a strong feminist novel. Yes, her ideas of birth control and male and female roles in the household were outdated, but her blunt ideas on polygamy and sex were refreshing and new, particularly for the time it was published. In no way was this a perfect novel, but I found it engaging!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Hoskins

    This is such a pornographic book, but wonderfully written. I read it aloud to my current husband when we were in that first or second year of lust over the phone. I actually got to see Diane Di Prima at ALA in San Francisco, 2001. She was really cool. She did a very nice reading. At this same time I was reading _Recollections of My Life as a Woman_. I told her, I really enjoyed the book. I'll do a review on that one, also. It's very wise and brilliant. Anyway she wanted to sign that one, but it This is such a pornographic book, but wonderfully written. I read it aloud to my current husband when we were in that first or second year of lust over the phone. I actually got to see Diane Di Prima at ALA in San Francisco, 2001. She was really cool. She did a very nice reading. At this same time I was reading _Recollections of My Life as a Woman_. I told her, I really enjoyed the book. I'll do a review on that one, also. It's very wise and brilliant. Anyway she wanted to sign that one, but it was a library book and in my hotel room. So she reluctantly signed Memoirs of A Beatnik and it is on my prized book shelf by the art table, not in the basement.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Damien

    I was really happy to read a book by a FEMALE beatnik, and although I liked it, I was disappointed in that I hoping she would turn out to be a genius. I was amused by the way in which she freely and frequently talked about sex every chance she got and then some, because I always appreciate sex-positiveness wherever it seems relevant. I was also kind of disappointed that she wasn't as literary (is that the right word for "writes a lot of books"?) as most of her male contemporaries.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Allee

    I think what is most important reading this book is reading it in the context of when it was written. By today's standards it is alternately pompous, annoying, and bordering on romance novel-bad writing. But if you take it for the groundbreaking bad assitude that it was in the 50s, its a much better work of art.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Fay

    I stumbled upon this title while wending my way through wikipedia. It was great. A 200+ page orgy. Very well written sex scenes, which is no small feat. Typical beat stuff, I thought, and I love that stuff: food, sex, poverty, crumby New York apartments. It made me feel more alive, or made me wish I felt as alive as Diane Diprima in the 1950s.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I had high hopes for this book, but I am sadly disappointed with it. Apparently being a female Beatnik meant having as much sex with as many different people in as many different ways as you possibly can. This book is basically porn that's been gussied up a little and called 'Beat'.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amber Tucker

    I want to reread this to better integrate my feelings about it, and hopefully I'll remember to update this review and change or justify four stars when I get around to that second reading. Just a side note: Someone I worked with told me recently that when studying at Naropa he knew personally not only Diane di Prima, my true-blue Beat goddess of a woman making the goddamn 1970s patriarchy work for her while also being Her Own Babe--yeah, but he also met Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, Anne Waldman, I want to reread this to better integrate my feelings about it, and hopefully I'll remember to update this review and change or justify four stars when I get around to that second reading. Just a side note: Someone I worked with told me recently that when studying at Naropa he knew personally not only Diane di Prima, my true-blue Beat goddess of a woman making the goddamn 1970s patriarchy work for her while also being Her Own Babe--yeah, but he also met Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, Anne Waldman, etc etc. (I still need to ask about Gary Snyder.) That may seem unrelated and confessional, but it's another reason I have to wait to write this review--because currently my thoughts around di Prima's work are kind of technicoloured by my jealousy. Hahaha.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mallory (The Local Muse)

    This and more @ The Local Muse Buckle you seat-belts, it's going to be a wild ride of sexism and bohemianism. If you are unaware, Diane di Prima is a poet who wrote during the Beatnik movement in America. For more information on the movement you can read my Literary Look linked above, but it took place during the late 50s to early 60s. The Beats are comparable to modern day hipsters, expect they did a lot of drugs and couch surfing. They were the ultimate bohemians and wrote about their real expe This and more @ The Local Muse Buckle you seat-belts, it's going to be a wild ride of sexism and bohemianism. If you are unaware, Diane di Prima is a poet who wrote during the Beatnik movement in America. For more information on the movement you can read my Literary Look linked above, but it took place during the late 50s to early 60s. The Beats are comparable to modern day hipsters, expect they did a lot of drugs and couch surfing. They were the ultimate bohemians and wrote about their real experiences, many were drug induced, and their real lives. Their works may be embellished or slightly changed, but most of them are based on true stories and true people. This movement was famously dominated by men and it was very hard for women to gain any popularity or critical respect in the movement. di Prima was one of the few women to do this, and is often recognized as the leading female poet of the Beat era. The Beats are pretty controversial; you either love them or hate them. I love them, but I can understand why people hate them.They do a lot of drugs and creating and not much else, but I find them endlessly fascinating because of their lack of care or worry. If you are not a fan of the Beat movement and all that rejection of society and responsibility, you will not enjoy this one. Just like most works from this movement, this book contains an ungodly amount of drugs, sex, and carelessness. First of all, it is important to understand that this is not di Prima's real memoir. That came in the form of recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years published years later in 2001. This is the edition of her memoirs that her publisher thought would sell best. di Prima was asked to put as much sex as possible in the book and that's just what she did. In the afterword of the book di Prima states, "Gobs of words would go off to New York whenever the rent was due, and come back with “MORE SEX” scrawled across the top page in Maurice’s inimitable hand, and I would dream up odd angles of bodies or weird combinations of humans and cram them in and send it off again. Sometimes I’d wander the house looking for folks to check things out with: “Lie down,” I’d say, “I want to see if this is possible.”" I know a lot of people are not aware of this, but as I was reading the reviews of this book on Goodreads I couldn't help but notice something strange that happens when women write about sex. If you know anything about the Beats, you will know that the "founders" (Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Neal Cassidy) had sex with everyone, including each other. They write about this in all of their works, the number of women Kerouac has sex with in On the Road is over ten at the least, but no one bats an eye. Not many would label On the Road as pornographic but you bet your last dollar they labeled di Primas's novel pornographic and question its literary value. Women write about fictional sex in numerous romance novels and make billions of dollars, but once it is suggested that the sex is not fictional but the real experience of the author (which the word memoir does in this case) forget about it, this isn't literature, it's obscene. Did di Prima have sex with every human she met? No. Did her male editor disregard the value of her true experience of being a woman writer in an all-male literary scene and latch on to the suggestive scenes as a way to provide entertainment and make money off of a woman's story? Probably. I'm really glad that I read this before di Prima's real memoir, as this was such a thought provoking read. I'm really excited to read her real memoir to get a better sense of what her experience in the movement was like. Reading classics can be very frustrating at times because women were so often excluded or pushed under the rug, but it is so rewarding to experience and examine women's experiences through the angle of literature, and the story of this novel's publication says so much more about the experience of di Prima in the literary scene than the words inside her novel. The way that we view this novel and the frankness with which di Prima writes about her sexuality and sexual encounters continues to provide a lens through which we can view the double standards and expectations we place on women vs. men when it comes to sexuality.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Seth Kupchick

    I'm sitting in a coffee shop and just finished Di Prima's memoirs, and want to say how much I enjoyed this book. I've read a lot of reviews of it on goodreads putting it down as being second rate smut and how Di Prima wrote it merely for money, since she say's her publisher wanted MORE SEX in the afterword, but this is a vital pulsing book of a generation. It's impossible to imagine "Memoirs of a Beatnik" without all of the sex, since that was a vital component to the life Di Prima was living. I I'm sitting in a coffee shop and just finished Di Prima's memoirs, and want to say how much I enjoyed this book. I've read a lot of reviews of it on goodreads putting it down as being second rate smut and how Di Prima wrote it merely for money, since she say's her publisher wanted MORE SEX in the afterword, but this is a vital pulsing book of a generation. It's impossible to imagine "Memoirs of a Beatnik" without all of the sex, since that was a vital component to the life Di Prima was living. In fact, it's missing the point entirely because Di Prima was a part of a movement flicking the bird at the dullness of '50's conformity, and while those are only words now, she managed to paint the era perfectly. I'm not even sure Kerouac or the other famous beats painted a more lush unforgiving picture of what it felt like to be living at the beginning of a movement that hadn't been named yet. New York bohemianism breathes through this book in a way I've never felt it before, and the only other word that comes to mind is Genet's "Our Lady of the Flowers."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    I have to say that although my initial opinion of this book was not high; I ended up enjoying this book a great deal. The sex scenes end up being almost a joke and later I found out it was because the publisher made her put in more and more and more sex. (Read the notes at the end) She desperately needed the money so she did what the publisher wanted. Minus the gratuitous sex, this book is actually a pretty interesting account of what was happening in 1950's and 60's New York. It seems to mostly I have to say that although my initial opinion of this book was not high; I ended up enjoying this book a great deal. The sex scenes end up being almost a joke and later I found out it was because the publisher made her put in more and more and more sex. (Read the notes at the end) She desperately needed the money so she did what the publisher wanted. Minus the gratuitous sex, this book is actually a pretty interesting account of what was happening in 1950's and 60's New York. It seems to mostly focus on The Village neighborhood. What a great melting pot that neighborhood was and how it really was a great time to be an artist cause the city was a lot more free in some ways and there were cheaper places to live. Things just seemed a lot more interesting. Artists and writers could afford to be artists and writers. They could afford to take odd jobs or weird jobs so that they could work on their creativity. This book ended up being a nice little slice of life story and so I gave it 4 stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Smith

    This was more like a memoir of all the people she slept with in the 50's, and it's kinda unfortunate that this is because of her editor at the time. I found myself skipping through the weirdly written smut (please just use the word clit, Diane!!! Euphemisms are for fanfic), as the rest of the book was pretty interesting. It didn't, however, create a very complete picture of what it was like to live the beat life. The fair few scenes that did convey what her beatnik life was like were interesting This was more like a memoir of all the people she slept with in the 50's, and it's kinda unfortunate that this is because of her editor at the time. I found myself skipping through the weirdly written smut (please just use the word clit, Diane!!! Euphemisms are for fanfic), as the rest of the book was pretty interesting. It didn't, however, create a very complete picture of what it was like to live the beat life. The fair few scenes that did convey what her beatnik life was like were interesting, though. Maybe I'll give some of her other books a chance. My advice is to skip this one unless you plan to hold the book with one hand....

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lea Dokter

    A fascinating insight into the workings of the Beatnik generation through a woman's eyes. Through sex DiPrima expresses the melancholic, passionate vibrations of the American counterculture movement of the 50's and 60's.

  29. 4 out of 5

    José Gomes

    Esta obra não deixa marcas no contexto da literatura beatinik. Nem sei bem se poderá ser considerado um texto beatnik ou apenas um texto pornográfico. Dentro da literatura sexual também já li muito melhor.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chleo

    J'ai aimé ce livre mais surtout pour ce que l'on peut lire entre les lignes. Au premiers abords il s'agit surtout d'un récit érotique. L'excitation grivoise suscitée par les premières pages laissent place à une certaine lassitude tant les scènes d'orgies en viennent à se succéder. Mais en réalité Diana Di Prima a été contrainte à se conformer à cet exercice sous la pression de son éditeur qui lui demandait plus de sexe pour "faire vendre." Si au début elle joue le jeu, très rapidement elle comme J'ai aimé ce livre mais surtout pour ce que l'on peut lire entre les lignes. Au premiers abords il s'agit surtout d'un récit érotique. L'excitation grivoise suscitée par les premières pages laissent place à une certaine lassitude tant les scènes d'orgies en viennent à se succéder. Mais en réalité Diana Di Prima a été contrainte à se conformer à cet exercice sous la pression de son éditeur qui lui demandait plus de sexe pour "faire vendre." Si au début elle joue le jeu, très rapidement elle commente elle-même avec beaucoup d'auto-dérision son propre récit( notamment avec l'imbrication de deux scénarios, un licencieux et l'autre réel: what you wish had happened/what really happened). Le livre est un journal et tout l’intérêt réside dans les aperçus que l'on a de sa vie d'écrivain Bohême au temps de la Beat generation (elle rencontrera Ginsberg et Kerouac). Cela m'a beaucoup fait penser à Patti Smith (même si en réalité Dina Di prima a vécu ses aventures 20 ans plus tôt): ses débuts d'artiste à New York, ses galères pour se loger et se nourrir, sa liberté totale. Le livre posent des questions fondamentales, anti-conformistes et provocatrices pour l'époque sur des questions féministes: la sexualité, la contraception, les relations de couple et ce que l'on appelle aujourd'hui le polyamour. Le fait d’être publié en tant que roman érotique lui permettait d'aborder des sujets qui auraient sinon été censurés. Une oeuvre à lire, donc, avec un regard averti et pour le témoignage qu'il apporte.

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