Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Books of Note, Gordon Ball, Allen Ginsberg, Michael Schumacher

Gordon Ball has a new book out, a collection of stories set in Post WWII Tokyo called On Tokyo's Edge: Gaijin Tales from Postwar Japan. Published by Red Mountain Press, this slender paperback is handsome, the printing crisp and clean. Simple, sometimes quirky, sometimes achingly innocent, the stories, like the book's design, are elegant and unadorned. Their spare sentences belie richly textured snapshots of the emerging life of a boy named Robert. Gordon Ball is a renown experimental filmmaker and these stories almost feel like scenes from a reflective cinematic movie. 

Michael Schumacher, Ginsberg biographer (Dharma Lion), edited First Thought: Conversations with Allen Ginsberg, new from the University of Minnesota Press. Among the uncollected interviews included in this timely release is "Ginsberg in Washington: Lobbying for Tenderness," not so much an interview but an article by Don McNeil originally published in the Village Voice in 1966 describing Ginsberg's testimony before a Senate subcommittee investigating LSD.

 "Whatever prejudgment you have about me, or my bearded image, I hope you will suspend it so that we can talk together as fellow human beings in the same room of Now, trying to come to some harmony and peacefulness between us." (AG)

Finally, Grove Atlantic has released The Best Minds of My Generation: A Literary History of the Beat Generation, a volume of Ginsberg's lectures given during the course he devised and taught first at Naropa Institute and later at Brooklyn College.

"Compiled and edited by renowned Beat scholar Bill Morgan, and with an introduction by Anne Waldman, The Best Minds of My Generation presents the lectures in edited form, complete with notes, and paints a portrait of the Beats as Ginsberg knew them: friends, confidantes, literary mentors, and fellow revolutionaries."

The 20th anniversary of Allen's death comes next week on April 5, 2017. That books by and about him continue to appear reinforces the notion that his voice is one still to be heard, that his words and ideas remain germane in a world that, in some ways, has manifestly changed since he was alive, but that in other ways, in the ways of war and police state violence and planetary peril and political corruption and Moloch-esque greed, heartlessness and abuse of power, are much the same. 

Allen Ginsberg would surely be active and vocal in resisting the toxic political madness burbling in the un-drained swamp of today's Washington D.C. I asked Anne Waldman how she thought Allen would be dealing with the current times, and she replied:

Allen would be in the resistance struggle and trying to communicate with the other side! The 2018 mid term election important need ! to act now-
I'm trying to rise to all the occasions I can, not stop and be loving and encouraging to others... and keep travelling..
I'm curating a festival at Casa Del Lago in Mexico City next week ..
Performed at Jaipur festival in India
And did Keynote there. 
Naropa New Weathers theme will be
Strong this summer June 11 til July 3...
Trungpa warned about fascist 
Takeover and here it is
Pathological sociopaths!
Why a lot of folks went to Halifax...
Onward and best.. remember your wisdom even if we don't make it
We just have to try
Very best