Beat News: January 29 1997

1. As unbelievable as this may sound, we are about to see a new book by J. D. Salinger. Granted, J. D. Salinger is not a Beat writer, and even trashed the Beats occasionally as crude pretenders (I think he was jealous of their fame, which came a few years after his). But in terms of sensibility and style, I think books like “Catcher in the Rye” and “Franny and Zooey” have an obvious proto-Beat essence. Anyway, Salinger has been practicing utter literary silence for decades, inspired at least in part by his Buddhist beliefs, and the news that he is allowing a new book to be
published is extremely surprising. The book will be called “Hapworth 16, 1924,” and I understand it is a reworking of a short story the New Yorker published in 1965. According to the Bananafish Home Page, which has an excellent index of all Salinger’s stories, this piece does involve Seymour Glass and the Glass family (his recurring characters, from “Franny and Zooey,” among many other pieces).

2. I’ve been writing about the progress (or lack thereof) of the Francis Ford Coppola film of “On The Road” in these pages for two years now. There’s still no word, as far as I know, about whether or not this film will ever get made (and in fact that’s fine with me, since as I’ve said before I bet it would suck, despite Coppola’s best intentions). Anyway, a different film involving the exploits of real-life “On The Road”
character Neal Cassady has just debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The Last Time I Committed Suicide stars Keanu Reeves and is based on some famous letters Cassady wrote about his sexual misadventures. I’m not sure if Keanu plays Cassady or not. I hope I’ll get to see this film soon — if anyone else sees it, please send me a report.

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