Having enjoyed In the Sixties so much (can we please have it released on kindle?) I was really looking forward to more of Miles memoirs. Having become exhausted by the end of the Sixties, understandably as he worked for Apple at one point, the beginning of this book starts with him in New York where he had gone with his first wife, Sue. Miles was writing for the NY counter culture for "International Times" and also for "Crawdaddy". Asked by Allen Ginsberg to help catalogue his tapes, Miles heads for his poets commune/farm and finally parts with Sue.
Anyone familiar with Miles will know that he is an expert on the Beat writers and much of the beginning of this book involves his time with Allen Ginsberg and the assorted guests that visited his farm. Miles then relocated to the Chelsea hotel, after a brief (and terrifying) stay at Ginsberg's NY apartment. New York in the 1970's was going through one of the most violent periods in its history, but also one of the most vibrant and exciting times. Miles introduces us to the many interesting characters at the Chelsea, before going with Ginsberg to San Francisco and Arizona, amongst other places. Near the end of his travels, a farmer, on finding that Miles was British felt obliged to tell him of his concerns that he did not have the right to bear arms. "Ahh think that it's every man's right to own his own, person-aal, nu-cleeaar device!" he proclaims. Wisely, the author felt it was time to return home for a while.
Having completed his work with Ginsberg, Miles returns to London to compile a bibliography of the work of William Burroughs, currently living in St James in London. The author has done many great biographies of many beat authors and I highly recommend The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs and Corso in Paris, 1957-1963. This section also has much of interest for those who have enjoyed his previous works on these writers.
Returning to the US, Miles discusses subjects as diverse as the Austrian psychoanalyst William Reich, Harry Smith, who claimed to be Aleister Crowley's illigitimate son and the New York Dolls. He then comes back to London, where he worked on the literary magazine "Bananas" and wrote for the New Musical Express. He was involved in the punk explosion and nearly managed the Clash before, eventually (and I am grateful that he did), turning to writing as a full time career. Miles knows/knew everybody of note in the literature and music worlds of both New York and London. I am grateful that he has shared his memories and cannot praise this book highly enough. Such an interesting life but, more importantly, such an interesting man. Highly recommended.
This is a very readable look at an essential period of cultural unrest. At times lost a bit in details it produces a personal review while disclosing a historical perspective through portrays of legedary literary figures such as Ginsberg & Burroughs between New York & London to the final implosion of the punk music revolt.