This is Ginsberg still at his best, with signs of his later tendency to fall into straightforward, unpoeticised political rant - as in the 'White Shroud' collection - only creeping in at the end. These almost-prose poems based on various journeys across the States -and one trip to famine-torn Bangladesh - are full of ambiguous descriptions both of city life and rural landscapes. There are some beautiful lines. 'Old box-alder fallen over/on knees in pond flood...'. And on and on, all of it well worth it.RK Byers
a GREAT timeline with some really good and often, really disturbing poems. i literally recoiled from "Please Master."Neil
I'd only really recommend this book if you want a glimpse of Ginsberg's writing, and even still, these poems wouldn't be the ones I'd recommend. Ginsberg not only misses what a lot of his colleagues picked up on as the "fall of america" during the 60's, but is also too self-serving a writer for me to enjoy. Howl is good; Sunflower Sutra is good; Fall of America is bad.Socialbookshelves.com
The Fall of America is one of my favourite collections of Ginsberg’s work, despite the fact that it doesn’t contain his most famous or most celebrated poetry. It is, however, a longer collection than some of his others, spanning the years 1965 – 1971 and charting a period in history that I can’t help but be fascinated by.Whether you’re reading September On Jessore Road, with its Dylan-esque refrain and anti-establishment vibes, or the heartwarming series of elegies for Neal Cassady, you’ll feel the raw power of Ginsberg’s words as they jump off the page and blaze a path across your mind, and you’re unlikely to forget the feelings that were roused even if you do forget the meaning.The Neal Cassady poems are of historical importance themselves – Cassady, a fellow writer who inspired the character of Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, was the first of the great beat figures to die, coming to an early end after walking home alone beside a railroad track.Steven
I admit it - I don't get Ginsberg. The presumptive poet laureate of the Beat Generation certainly had his moments of brilliance, and, at least with epic classics like "Howl" and "Kaddish," he did a fair job of updating the impassioned and stylized sweep of his mentor, Walt Whitman, to the twentieth century post-WW II years. This collection from 1965 to 1971, however, too often reads not so much as well-crafted poetry as a poorly edited stream-of-consciousness chronicle of personal and political events from those years. Thus there are seemingly trivial reports that are more like diary entries ("Last night almost broke my heart dancing to/Cant Get No Satisfaction/lotsa beer & slept naked in the guest room"), as well as what are little more than repetitions of news headlines ("Newsphoto Vision: M.L. King Attacked by Rocks"; "Buster Keaton died today"; "Jerry Rubin arrested!"). And then there are the apparently spontaneous and incomprehensible (at least to me) creations such as "Look in the halls of the head, nervous leg halls, universe inside/Chest dark baby kingdom of the skull" and "Bom! Bom! Mahadev! Microphone Icecream!/Battle Conditions! Come in Towers!" Not that it isn't at times interesting. As a record of important events of the 1960s (including some particularly passionate condemnations of the Vietnam War), it serves a purpose. And indeed there are some instances of beautiful imagery from his cross-country travels (New England in the autumn and desolate urban winter landscapes) and some touching elegies to friends and heroes who died, such as Neal Cassady and Che Guevara. But I find Ginsberg's seeming inattention to rhythm and structure, as well as his occasional tendency to fall into overly silly wordplay at the expense of a meaningful message (wherein the poem becomes essentially a mantra) more than a little exasperating.Jonathan Holleb
I'm sorry, but I don't understand why anyone would be fascinated with a poetry book such as this one...There were maybe 5 decent poems to be found here...The rest read like meandering gibberish with a little philosophy thrown in the middle of them...which doesn't equal good poetry in my book...I love many of the Beat poets and poets related to the Beat generation, but I don't think I will ever be a big fan or even a normal fan of Ginsberg...Ferlinghetti is one of my favorite poets ever...Corso was great...Kaufman wrote some really cool stuff...This collection and many other collections by Ginsberg just don't appeal to me at all...I don't see what is so special about any of these poems.Tony Q.
not quite stream of consciousness writing (but close at times), this set of poetry is unique to the Beat writers in that it describes a cross-country trek and wild times. You know that Ginsberg wrote all of these while in a car, hotel room or bar while he could devote proper attention to his craft. I was entertained all the way through and its interesting to see the value of contemporary artists shine through in the writing (most notably Dylan) - Ginsberg repeatedly refers to the voices coming from the radio to set the scene. A reader can easily get lost in the time and place he describes so vividly, sometimes so graphically. Entertaining read.Lizzy
In the words of my friend Praveena, not my baked potato . . .Jennifer Schmohe
Perfect poetry for buses & waiting rooms.Joseph
A perfect blend of Ginsberg's oracular, brawny poetic and his far leftist political sensibility. What would a Benzedrine-fueled Whitman whisper to Blake before the prophetic sex that would, nine months later, give us Ginsberg? "Please master call me a dog, an ass beast, a wet asshole, / & fuck me more violent, my eyes hid with your palms round my skull [...] / & throb thru five seconds to spurt out your semen heat over & over, bamming it in while I cry out your name I do love you / Please Master."Justin
Its like a snapshot of Allen Ginsberg. or a scattershot from a shotgun. Warning/Enticement: One of the more graphic, gay dom/sub poems I've ever read is in this book.Jeffrey Bumiller
My first exposure to Allen Ginsberg was a CD recording of him reading Howl. Now, whenever I read his poems, in my head I am mimicking his voice. I can't separate his poems from his voice, which I think is really awesome and interesting. This is a great collection, Ginsberg documenting his thoughts, feelings and surroundings with the occasional gorgeous poetic line thrown into the mix.Ben Michaelis
This is the next book I buy. I borrowed a copy from a freind at work and was a bit put off by the rambling and lack of structure. I listened to Ginsberg read some of his poetry and then every thing made sense.