New book: Mania: The Story of the Outraged and Outrageous Lives That Launched a Cultural Revolution, by David M. Skover ’74 and Ronald K.L. Collins (Top Five Books)
The authors: Skover is the Fredric C. Tausend Professor of Constitutional Law at Seattle University. Collins is the Harold S. Shefelman Scholar at the University of Washington Law School. They have written together for nearly 30 years and have coauthored The Trials of Lenny Bruce, The Death of Discourse, and On Dissent: Its Meaning in America — published this month by Cambridge University Press.
The book: The authors tell the story of the lives and adventures of the group of artists known as the Beats — among them Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs. They examine how these writers remade their generation and inspired others.
From the book: “‘It was a nice day,’ Allen Ginsberg recalled. April 22, 1949, was sunny and warm, and the temperature climbed gently to a comfortable 72 degrees. Rain would only come later in the day. Until then, it was a perfect Friday for cruising along Utopia Parkway with the windows down and the radio up. ‘I liked the idea,’ he observed, ‘of a freshening ride in Long Island.’ So the young man and his two roommates took to the road.”
Reviews: Kirkus Reviews called Mania “A balanced history — sometimes admiring, sometimes blistering — of the writers who fractured the glass capsule of literary conformity.” Publishers Weekly wrote, “[T]he the book’s most effective episodes include harrowing depictions of the psychotic delusions and horrific treatment in psych wards suffered by Carl Solomon (later immortalized in Howl), as well as the mania and institutionalization of Allen Ginsberg (and his mother).”