Tag Archives: Allen Ginsberg

Trail: Harry Potter and the Beat Generation of Death

Daniel Radcliffe, the titular star of one of the most profitable movie franchises in Harry Potter, has certainly been making a few determined moves to disentangle himself permanently from the tentacles of Voldemort now that the long-running wizard and potions saga has reached its cinematic conclusion.

After making some well-received stage appearances in 2007 in Peter Schaffer’s powerful, horse-blinding drama Equus, in both London and New York, including challenging nude scenes to boot, even before J.K. Rowling’s fantasy fest had ended its film cycle, Radcliffe has also featured in the recent screen chiller, The Woman in Black, to more luke-warm notices.

But it is his next project that will perhaps see the young Briton tested most – playing a gay American in a true-life murder mystery. No, it’s not CSI: Hogwarts with a gender twist, but an adaptation of the events outlined in the Jack Kerouac/William Burroughs collaboration And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, a rare, two-scribe novel penned in the mid-1940s but one that did not see the general light of day until 2008.

For most Beat aficionados, however, the action in the story centres on those real-life events of 1944 when David Kammerer was stabbed and killed by Lucien Carr, in a bid, we have always been led to believe, to fend off the victim’s homosexual advances to the younger man. The fact that Kerouac would then become embroiled in the events that followed – he hid the murder weapon and was arrested as an accessory – has become a key part in the early Beat chronology.

In the movie, entitled Kill Your Darlings, Radcliffe dons the spectacles once more to portray Allen Ginsberg. Carr, who would serve two years in jail for what the press of the day dubbed ‘an honour slaying’, is played by Dane DeHaan, Kammerer is Michael C. Hall, Burroughs comes to life in the hands of Ben Foster, while Kerouac is reincarnated by Jack Huston. The film, currently in production on the Manhattan streets and directed by John Krokidas, is slated for a 2013 release.


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Review: New novel’s Scroll goal

Larry Closs’ novel Beatitude, which came out in late 2011, is a sharp, smart novel with a human voice and some neat interweavings of memory and the present. Set in the recent past in a largely gay milieu in the media world of Manhattan, it avoids the usual posing or pretentiousness of fiction located in that hip, midtown mode. Rather, it is a story whose narrator has warmth and it is driven by a dialogue that is convincing and engaging. But the book is more than just a tale of quotidian romance in the upper storeys of a bejewelled urban isle – it also makes regular reference to the Beat Generation writers which drew me in still further.

It opens as Harry, the storyteller, and his friend Jay go searching on a grail-like mission to view Jack Kerouac’s legendary Original Scroll for his most famous novel On the Road and the book proper then commences with an almost direct reference to the opening lines of Kerouac’s own signature text. Yet Beatitude, which takes its title from Kerouac’s extension of the word Beat to embrace notions of the saintly and also incorporates some unpublished fragments of poetry by that other Beat giant Allen Ginsberg in its pages, is more than a mere derivative homage. It is an authentic contemporary account, enlightened by appealing Beat details, but its main strength is in its ability to convey plausible conversations between its believable dramatis personae.

Beatitude is published by Rebel Satori Press, Hulls Cove, ME

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