This is the book that started it all for me. Published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books, a North Beach San Francisco Beat haven since the 1950's, and immediately removed from bookstores and seized upon entry into the country by U.S. customs, HOWL was catapulted into stardom. It truly began the reign of the Beats in the American underground literary movement, producing in it's wake, opportunities for Kerouac's On The Road, Burroughs' Junky, and opened doors for Greogory Corso, Bob Kaufman, Richard Brautigan, and Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), among countless other writers and social activists since. I would fair to say that there is not a single poet in the states worth a shit that has not, at some time, been influenced by this book.
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked..." and thus begins the rest of the world as we know it.
Howl is not the only poem of note in this near perfect volume of poetry, "America", a statement of honest love and disappointment in the face of McCarthy's america and a declaration of queer pride and socialist values, is the first poem that brought me to tears and inspired my own "Dialogue With America".
When thinking of starting a book store, this is the book that I had in mind. I will always have copies of this for sale, as long as sticks&stones books is in existence. If you already have this book ,or have read it, please include your own review in the comments section of this post, along with recommendations of other books or authors that you hold in rank with Ginsberg.
If you like HOWL, check out the selected poems of Kenneth Rexroth, particularly the poem "Thou Shalt Not Kill", which is known as the predecessor of HOWL, as Rexroth was held in high regards by Ginsberg and the other Beats in the San Francisco area. Also read Walt Whitman's epic American tale "Leaves of Grass". Both of which will be reviewed and are available from sticks&stones books.