Allen Ginsberg,
Jack Kerouac in Burroughs's Garden, Villa Mouneria, Tangier, Morocco, 1957; gelatin silver print, 2 1/2 in. x 3 3/4 in. (6.35 cm x 9.53 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund: gift of Collectors Forum, Doris and Donald Fisher, Elaine McKeon, and Chara Schreyer and Gordon Freund; © Allen Ginsberg Trust

Grimly reconciled though one may be to the annual flood of books by and about the Beat Generation, it’s particularly depressing to see Jack Kerouac’s poetry, of all things, enshrined in the Library of America, that magnificent series designed to preserve for posterity the treasures of our national literature. To read through these seven hundred–odd pages of...

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