Lotsa news to catch up on:
1. More rumors about the Coppola film of ‘On The Road.’ First of all, supposedly Coppola will only be producing, and Gus Van Sant may be directing. I’m not crazy about this idea: Van Sant’s film ‘Drugstore Cowboy‘ was pretty good, but I wouldn’t call it great, and he’s also the director who screwed up the film version of ‘Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.’ Van Sant has a relationship with William S. Burroughs, but I don’t consider that any kind of indication that he can inhabit a Kerouac state of mind. Kerouac has a sad, sentimental side … I’d rather see Coppola direct this film himself.
And what’s this shit about Bruce Willis playing one of the leads? God, I hope this is just a bad rumor. More on the casting of this below …
2. The British playwright John Osborne has died. He was one of England’s ‘Angry Young Men’ in the fifties, and became famous for his first play, ‘Look Back In Anger,’ around the same time that Jack Kerouac‘s ‘On The Road’ was published in America. The Angry Young Men were Britain’s version of the Beat Generation. They represented the same sort of challenge to the literary complacency of their time, and like the Beats generated a tremendous amount of excitement and controversy. Osborne is not very well known in America these days, but he’s written many well known plays and film scripts, including ‘Luther,’ ‘The Entertainer’ (starring Laurence Olivier) and an adaptation of ‘Tom Jones.’ I’m hoping to write more on the Angry Young Men (and the French equivalents, the Existentialists of the 40’s and ’50’s) when I get some time.
3. William S. Burroughs’ new book, ‘My Education,’ has been published. The New York Times gave it a decent review, though it said the lack of a plot makes it more suited for skimming than reading. A Burroughs article also appears in the newest issue of Grand Street. Will somebody please create a Burroughs Web site so I can stop trying to keep up with the activities of this prolific octogenarian? I’m trying, but my main focus here is on Kerouac and Ginsberg and the whole Beat Vision, and I think Burroughs’ vision is a separate thing (though he hung out with the Beats and shared many of their insights) and deserves a Web site of it’s own.
4. There are two new Beat resources on the Net: alt.books.beatgeneration has been created (the reason ‘beatgeneration’ is not hyphenated, in case you’re wondering, is that there is a fourteen-character limit on Usenet names.) Also, Michael Hayward (Michael_Hayward@sfu.ca) has put an interesting and well-researched paper on the history of Beat publishing up on the Web. You can reach it here.