"Blues for Cannibals" by Charles Bowden

Reviewed by Michelle Goldberg

By Letters to the Editor

Published March 15, 2002 8:00PM (EST)

Read Michelle Goldberg's review of "Blues for Cannibals" by Charles Bowden.

In Michelle Goldberg's article about Charles Bowden she lumps him in with the Beats among other writers. However, I think what distinguishes the Beats (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and sometimes Burroughs) from the type of writing Goldberg is talking about is the Beats' essential quest for holiness in the common.

They dig down to subterranean society not to shock and disgust but to find authenticity. I don't know if Bowden can be said to do the same. Although I agree that this type of writing by "B-class" Beats (Charles Bukowski, most notably, who Goldberg alludes to in the title of her article, if not by name) has indeed grown tiresome. I think part of the reason is that many have dropped the spiritual aspect of the Beats' quest for shock value or celebrating what society (formerly) reviled.

-- Robert Gruber

Bowden isn't for everyone. His language is dense with rough poetics, naturalist facts, sordid details from his own life. His is the desert wanderer, the walker of canyons longing for the honky-tonk, a cold cerveza and a couple of lines. As the environment is encroached upon by industrialism and urban/suburban sprawl, there are uncomfortable vistas in the physical and psychic landscape of North America. Bowden writes about this.

Bowden is our goddamn poet laureate and no one knows it.

-- Jeff Kerr

Read Alison Motluk's review of "Genes, Girls and Gamow" by James D. Watson.

Alison Motluk isn't sure why George Gamow features in the title of James Watson's latest book.

It was Gamow the cosmologist who proposed the "Big Bang" theory of the origin of the universe. It seems obvious that James Watson considers his life to have been one big bang. Hence the title.

-- Kaspar Mossman

Letters to the Editor

MORE FROM Letters to the Editor

Related Topics ------------------------------------------