Thursday, December 27, 2007

beat journalism, just (barely) enough bop

I love reading early beat journalism about the beat phenomenon. It seeks to make sentences Time can publish with yet just enough rhythmic lingo, idiomatic verve, and phrasal nihilism to certify itself as beat. Beat-written mainstream journalism is a real art, a subgenre that had to be mastered.

Here are phrases pulled from an article by Clellon Holmes, then 26 years old, that appeared in the New York Times Magazine in 1952.

the wild boys of today are not lost

it is precisely at this point that the copywriter and the hot-rod driver meet

a disturbing illustration of Voltaire's reliable old joke

there is no desire to shatter the "square" society, only to elude it

the valueless abyss of modern life is unbearable

their flushed, often scoffing, always intent faces

A fuller excerpt is here in my 1950s site.