A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties
Reader comment | Dec 29, 2011, Pati
I have not finished reading this book but it has something about it that mends me in places I did not even know I was broken. I thought that was worth sharing. I have not been to city lights for a very long time and only once, I cried at the counter and Gent Sturgeon told me alot of people do that [INVALID] that was in 1996 or so I bet they still cry some...
Reader comment | Aug 13, 2010, Bill Kohlhaase
"I am the man who has best charted his inmost self." Antonin Artaud quoted by Helen Weaver
Helen Weaver's account of her early days in Greenwich Village is misleadingly titled. Weaver, a new age author and translator nominated for a National Book Award in 1977 for her reading of Antonin Artaud, was a member of New York's hip in the 1950s and '60s. She had affairs with Jack Kerouac and Lenny Bruce, a longstanding friendship with Allen Ginsberg and worked in the heart of the publishing scene...more for Harold Vursell and Roger W. Straus Jr. at Farrar, Straus and Cudhay, later Farrar, Straus and Giroux. So who's the awakener in all this?
Well, it's the guy whose name will sell the most books, thus the subtitle A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties. But a large part of the book deals in Weaver's life without Kerouac. Equally interesting sections, some maybe more so, deal in her relationship with Bruce and her own life in Greenwich Village, smoking pot, getting into jazz and generally pursuing a life of her own. If you're thinking the book is strictly about Kerouac, you'll be disappointed. Women also named Helen as well as guys named Tommy and Monty all help shake Weaver into consciousness.
But this is not a disappointing book. Weaver's story is a late coming-of-age tale in an era (and among a generation) that treated women with (mostly) quaint attitudes ("Jack wouldn't let me smoke dope that was for the boys."). She breaks away from a "middle-class" upbringing in Scarsdale, Pennsylvania and a dull first marriage. Weaver avidly pursues life, embracing hetro and homosexual relationships, indulging in drugs and following psychoanalysis. By the time you finish, you'll think Weaver awakened herself.
From The Cabbage Rabbit Review of Books and Music, www.cabbagerabbit.com
Reader comment | Jan 10, 2010, Linda Baker
By Linda R. Baker "www.lindabaker53.wordpress.com" (USA) - See all my reviews
I found The Awakener by Helen Weaver to be very readable (I couldn't put it down) and a lesson in the period of history that shaped my childhood. In college in the 70s my friends and I all read Kerouac but didn't know much about the man. We were all fans. Weaver's book gives a personal portrait of the man with sensitive insight into his works, his problems and his ultimate death from alcoholism. Weaver treats her subject with great respect and brings in a lot of other characters of the time: Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lenny Bruce, to name a few. Her life in the 50s was way ahead of it's time. I was entertained and enthralled by the subject. Weaver is an excellent writer, clearly stating her experiences without pretension. Loved the book!
Reader comment | Dec 31, 2009, Clarisse Zielke
When I was a young wife and mother in Baton Rouge, LA in the 50's, I remember reading in Life magazine about the beats in Greenwich Village, with great longing, wishing I were there to experience the phenomenom. I was a want-to-be writer, and it all sounded beyond exciting to a little small-town Louisiana cajun.
This book put me there, if a little late. Helen Weaver writes with such honestly about her experiences with all of the wonderful bigger-than-life characters of that time. She writes of a Jack Kerouac few of us knew. I loved her Lenny Bruce chapter.
A writer who is funny and poignant, with a real command of language, who could ask for more?
Reader comment | Nov 25, 2009, Dan Barky
'Helen' seems to be a very versatle talent. I have much enjoyed her previous work.
Reader comment | Nov 24, 2009, Dan Wakefield
This magical book takes you back in person to one of the great times and places of our literary history. To read the book is to fall in love with it!
Reader comment | Nov 24, 2009, Melissa Weaver Dunning
Helen Weaver's candid memoir of life in Greenwich Village in the 1950's is a compelling read and an inside view into some of the major Beat Generation writers and artists. I had the opportunity to read a pre-publication copy and I couldn't put it down.
Reader comment | Nov 17, 2009, xavi
Reader comment | Aug 25, 2009, Amber
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