Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I watched Howl the other day-- I am sort of surprised that I hadn't got to it earlier, but I have to be in a particular frame of mind for Beat stuff. James Franco quite good-- Allen Ginzberg's vocal cadences are familiar and distinctive, and Franco nailed it. The animated segments weren't quite in the visual style I'd have imagined, but they certainly worked well. Horribly, I found that I was more interested in the parts about the obscenity trial than the poetry parts. Part of this may have been because my ArtVoice column about Lawrence Brose had just run, so I had the defense of artistic freedom on my mind-- did Norman Mailer ever have a finer moment than his testimony at the obscenity trial against Naked Lunch? I'm afraid, however, that the reality is less noble: when you come to Howl at the right moment poetry is more important than any other principle; after a lifetime of standing up in court I'm afraid that I'd rather read an opinion by Oliver Wendel Holmes than re-read The Dharma Bums. 

This is, I think, the point that is being made in this assessment of  Jack Kerouac. If you come to him at the right time, Kerouac's writing is liberating, but it isn't easy to go back to him.

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