My previous post mentioned a recently completed book, ‘God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater’ by Kurt Vonnegut. Reading is something I’ve enjoyed since childhood but more recently came to realize there were many authors/works/topics I should have read but had missed out on enjoying. Wanting to remedy the situation I made a goal for myself last year of reading one book per week. I was surprised to discover how easy it was and ended up reading 76. (2005 List Here) Finding myself drawn to 20th century writers and their work I suspected I might run out of books to enjoy but I’m beginning to believe that won’t happen anytime soon. Staying with the same goal in 2006, ‘Rosewater’ was my 52nd book so far this year which means I’ve read two a week. (2006 List Here) Exactly what was I doing with all my time before this?
The current book I’m reading is ‘Grace Beats Karma – Letters from Prison 1958-60’ by Neal Cassady. Neal was a true “character” having been portrayed by Jack Kerouac as Dean Moriarty in ‘On The Road’ and later profiled by Tom Wolfe in ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’ where Neal, known as “Speed Limit”, drove Ken Kesey’s day-glo psychedelic bus. Along the way Neal was also Allen Ginsberg’s lover and a long time railroad man for Southern Pacific. In his first prison letter, while serving a “5 years to life” sentence (he was out in 2) for handing three ‘joints’ to undercover cops as payment for having given him a ride, Neal makes the following statement – “so I’m well up in spirit, hi-est ever; only Grace beats Karma, etc. However, ahem, uh & gulp”. Probably a comment on the one time Buddhist leanings of Kerouac. Cassady also seemed to be infatuated with Edgar Cayce. As a teen I once had many of Cayce’s books having “borrowed” them from my next door neighbor’s “Psychic Science Library” as he called it. I eventually dumped the Cayce books but kept all the Erich Von Daniken related titles. (to give you an idea of the stuff that warped my brain earlier in life)
Next on the waiting list is the Charles Mingus autobiography, ‘Beneath The Underdog’.