The Best Minds of My GenerationTitle: The Best Minds of My Generation – A Literary History of the Beats

Author: Allen Ginsberg

Pages: 496 Pages

Publisher: Grove Atlantic/Grove Press

The Blurb

In 1977, twenty years after the publication of his landmark poem “Howl,” and Jack Kerouac’s seminal book On the Road, Allen Ginsberg decided it was time to teach a course on the literary history of the Beat Generation. Through the creation of this course, which he ended up teaching five times, first at the Naropa Institute and later at Brooklyn College, Ginsberg saw an opportunity to present the history of Beat Literature in his own inimitable way. 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.

Ginsberg was seminal to the creation of a public perception of Beat writers and knew all of the major figures personally, making him uniquely qualified to be the historian of the movement. In The Best Minds of My Generation, Ginsberg shares anecdotes of meeting Kerouac, Burroughs, and other writers for the first time, explains his own poetics, elucidates the importance of music to Beat writing, discusses visual influences and the cut-up method, and paints a portrait of a group who were leading a literary revolution. For Beat aficionados and neophytes alike, The Best Minds of My Generation is a personal yet critical look at one of the most important literary movements of the twentieth century.

The Review

I was really eager to read The Best Minds of My Generation but had been put off by an experience of reading On The Road by Jack Kerouac. This will probably shock a lot of people but I just didn’t rate it. I read it because I felt like I was supposed to have read it. But, to be perfectly honest, I just wasn’t that impressed.

Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it and just immerse myself in the world of the Beat Writers.

I kind of wish I had chosen another book to read. That probably sounds really harsh but it is because this book, The Best Minds of My Generation, is clearly for hardcore Beat enthusiasts. It is not for someone who is tentatively dipping their toes into this genre.

My recommendation would be that anyone wanting to learn about the history of this period then look elsewhere. If you already love this genre of writing then knock yourself out.

The Best Minds of My Generation – A Literary History of the Beats by Allen Ginsberg is available now.

For more information regarding Grove Atlantic (@groveatlantic) please visit www.groveatlantic.com.

2 Stars

The FrontmanTitle: The Frontman

Author: Ron Bahar

Pages: 264 Pages

Publisher: SparkPress

The Blurb

Ron Bahar is an insecure, self-deprecating, seventeen-year-old Nebraskan striving to please his Israeli immigrant parents, Ophira and Ezekiel, while remaining true to his own dreams. During his senior year of high school, he begins to date longtime crush and non-Jewish girl Amy Andrews—a forbidden relationship he hides from his parents. But that’s not the only complicated part of Ron’s life: he’s also struggling to choose between his two passions, medicine and music. As time goes on, he becomes entangled in a compelling world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Will he do the right thing?

A fictionalized memoir of the author’s life as a young man in Lincoln, Nebraska, The Frontman is a coming-of-age tale of love and fidelity.

The Review

I was surprised how much I enjoyed The Frontman by Ron Bahar.

To begin with I was feeling a bit put out, maybe that I wasn’t the target audience. Without meaning to offend anyone, it felt that the target audience was leaning towards men but the more and more I read the more I actually started to enjoy the teenage exploits of Ron. I started to feel sorry for some of the more hapless aspects of his personality.

The Frontman really is a good, entertaining and easy read with a kick ass soundtrack to accompany it.

The Frontman by Ron Bahar is available now.

For more information regarding Ron Bahar (@RonJonBahar) please visit www.ronbahar.com.

For more information regarding SparkPress (@GoSparkPress) please visit www.gosparkpress.com.

3 Stars

The Last Act of LoveTitle: The Last Act of Love – The Story of My Brother and His Sister

Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan/Picador

The Blurb

In the summer of 1990, Cathy’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. It was two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many and various fates worse than death.

This is the story of what happened to Cathy and her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after the night that changed everything. It’s a story for anyone who has ever watched someone suffer or lost someone they loved or lived through a painful time that left them forever changed.

Told with boundless warmth and affection, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a heartbreaking yet uplifting testament to a family’s survival and the price we pay for love.

The Review

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a beautifully heartbreaking story of a life cut short and how to deal with death, and indeed, life and how to carry on.

Cathy Rentzenbrink was 17 when her younger brother was knocked down by a dangerous driver. Her brother, Matty, spent eight years in a permanent vegetative state. The Last Act of Love her story of how she and her family dealt with Matty’s condition and how eventually it became clear that it was crueller to keep him alive when he wasn’t living.

I have enormous respect for Cathy Rentzenbrink. Not only for the horrible decision that she had to make along with her family but that she had the courage to do it and then write about it. She has bled her feelings onto the page and she has done so with such dignity and grace.

The Last Act of Love is so cathartic and a deeply elegant story that is a beautiful read. I must for anyone who is dealing with loss.

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is available now.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

For more information regarding Picador (@picadorbooks) please visit www.panmacmillan.com/picador.

35 Stars

Bitter BetrayalTitle: Bitter Betrayal

Author: Amanda M Thrasher

Pages: 225 Pages

Publisher: IBPA

The Blurb

They say there are two sides to every story, and somewhere in the middle lies the truth. There’s no exception to this one. Impaired decisions, questionable actions, and consequences with irreversible damage destroy the lives of two young teens.

High school junior Payton Phillips is dating the boy she knows she’s going to spend the rest of her life with: Reece Townsend. An opportunity for the dating teens and their friends to have the night of their lives–an invite to Stacie Wiggin’s party–will go down in the books as epic. But when things escalate and emotions run high, the evening of their dreams turns into a nightmare of he said, she said. Who did exactly what that night? As teens tweet, Snap, and play their stories out online, social media threatens to ruin more than the teens’ reputations. Relationships, scholarships, and entire families are at stake. Whose side of the story will you choose to believe, his or hers?

The Review

Oh boy. Where do I begin.

Ok. Bitter Betrayal by Amanda M. Thrasher is a good story. It is well written and thought out and highlights some of the fears of parents and children about socialisation and growing up too fast. Whilst I will not complain about the writing because it is accomplished I have a lot of negative thoughts about how it was presented.

Personally, I found that the story was overly moralistic and at times pious. It was too consequence driven and made it seem that all the consequences would be bad ones. It didn’t give a positive message about first time sex and made, quite frankly, felt like scaremongering. Furthermore, the authorial interjections such as “as teens do” and “with teen love”* felt intrusive and condescending. Not what I have come to expect from YA fiction which has made leaps and bounds in treating its audience with maturity and respect in the recent years.

Bitter Betrayal is a good story but with a closer examination of a modern young adult audience it could have been a lot better.

  • Not direct quotes.

Bitter Betrayal by Amanda M Thrasher is available now.

For more information regarding Amanda M. Thrasher (@AmandaMThrasher) please visit www.amandamthrasher.com.

For more information regarding IBPA (@ibpa) please visit www.ibpa-online.org.

3 Stars

CleanTitle: Clean

Author: Juno Dawson

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group/Quercus Children’s Group

The Blurb

A razor-sharp, adrenaline rush of a novel from award-winning author Juno Dawson, Clean is Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted.

‘I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter … it’s liquid gold.’

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.

She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all …

It’s a dirty business getting clean …

Addiction and redemption, love and despair. Clean will have you hooked from the first page.

The Review

Juno Dawson is one of those names that is synonymous with hard hitting YA genre and whilst I have a copy of every book that she has written they are all languishing away on my never ending TBR pile. Why? Because I am a hopeless bibliophile but that is beside the point. The actual point is that I recently read Clean, the latest book from Dawson which has her tackling the issue of drugs.

In what can be described as Junk for a Kardashian era, Dawson setting of an offshore rehab facility is the perfect place to have the drama of Lexi’s life unfold. Lexi is an upcoming IT girl. However, her privileged upbringing has landed her in trouble. She is, for want of a better word, an addict. Forced into rehab by her brother we watch as Lexi struggles to accept that she has a problem.

Dawson’s delivery in Clean is really clever. She manages to make the reader feel very detached from Lexi at the beginning of the book. You don’t go into the story rooting for her but gradually as Lexi comes to accept herself more, so does the reader. What is also fascinating is the way that Dawson doesn’t sugar coat the withdrawal process. Although Clean is a YA novel, she makes sure that you understand the horrific pain addicts go to when they are on the come down. It is reminiscent of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey but infinitely more – ironically – addictive to read.

I will be bumping up the other Juno Dawson books to a higher position on my TBR pile.

Clean by Juno Dawson is available now.

For more information regarding Juno Dawson (@junodawson) please visit www.junodawson.com.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) please visit www.hachettechildrens.co.uk.

For more information regarding Quercus Children’s Group (@QuercusKids) please visit their Twitter page.

4 Stars