East is East, and West is…

20 Feb

SAN FRANCISCO. At least that’s what American author O. Henry said. My New York trip has somewhat snowballed. It has now turned into a month long East Coast/West Coast adventure. I am very lucky indeed. Consequently, my New York reading list has expanded to include all things relating to the West Coast, San Francisco in particular. So far on my radar are pretty much all of Kerouc’s novels, Williams Burroughs’ Naked Lunch,  Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test and Go by John Clellon Holmes, thought to be the precursor to Kerouac’s On The Road. The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test charts the West to East Coast journey made my Ken Kesey and his merry pranksters and from what I’ve read, is the ultimate book to celebrate the hippy culture of the 60s. Sounds like my cup of tea. Looking into San Francisco’s most famous literary figures has also brought to my attention an out-of-print memoir entitled Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson. After some research (that somehow led to me buying a signed first edition of the book – don’t ask) I discovered that Johnson is a former lover of Kerouac’s. Her book is an account of the role played by the female members of the beat generation, a typically overlooked aspect of the movement. That will definitely be one for my suitcase. Any other ideas?

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