GASOLINE by Gregory Corso

Readers only passingly familiar with Beat literature may be quite surprised by Corso. I remember barely knowing his name for some time then, when I did hear it, thinking of him as “secondary.” Boy, was I in for a treat! Corso may have come late to the Beat literary scene but he was FAR more than worthy of it. More pessimistic than the ecstatic Ginsberg, much of his work reminds me of Kerouac’s On the Road with its gentle sadness and longing for love and meaningful human interaction. If it sounds like Corso’s poetry is dreary and gloomy, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the tears, Corso is able to spin passages and even single phrases that shimmer with beauty. I did a TON of underlining in this book! My favorite was probably “Hello..” which makes me burst into tears. Another great one is “D. Scarlatti” which so perfectly describes Scarlatti’s maddeningly addictive music that it is absolutely chilling. The understated tragedy of “Greenwich Village Suicide” will stay with you for days. Finally, I have to mention the opening lines of “Thoughts on a Japanese Movie.” They don’t seem to be very much but I can’t get them out of my head:

Let us love a thing together once
A think vermilion

How does someone create words like that? I guess that’s the mystery of poetry. That sounds absurdly sentimental but this book is so good it makes you feel that way.


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