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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life

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Goof Review
by Ronnie Burk ||
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Philip Whalen.
Goof Book for Jack Kerouac
Big Bridge Press, Pacifica, CA.

To order, send $11.00 plus $4.00 postage to 2000 Highway 1, Pacifica, CA. 94044; make checks payable to Big Bridge Press.

This book is:
a.) A how-to-write book for children
b.) A philosophical treatise on the nature of Ultimate Reality
c.) A letter to a friend
d.) All of the above

If Gertrude Stein and William Carlos Williams had a baby it would have been Philip Whalen. Like Stein, Whalen is an American original eccentric, experimental, monumental like Mount Rushmore or the Golden Gate Bridge. If he can't produce a 1000-page manuscript a day he gets upset with himself. Like Williams, Whalen is down to earth, "no ideas but in things," eggplants, cunts, dirty dish rags and chrysanthemums, turtles and meatloaf pleasures. Like his Beat compadres, Philip is also a great "word slinger," a connoisseur of the "word salad," as Ginsberg use to say. "Doughnut pistol! phonograph porridge! (imitation Gregory speech,)" he writes to his friend, Jack Kerouac about anything and everything and he does.
      The Goof Book is essential Whalen. A kind of condensed ON BEAR'S HEAD as the poet captures his "graph of the mind moving." With a heavy dose of literary references, including Williams and Stein and Duncan and Graves and Shakespeare and Edmund Wilson, Whalen writes this open ended letter illustrating his points with cosmic doodles and impossible rhymes. Who else would think to rhyme Tathata with Sinatra?
      "Everything Is Possible. Everything Is Impossibl," Whalen writes, and to sever the line of his dualistic thinking, pronounces a few paragraphs later "EVERYTHING CAN BE DONE!" This little volume should appear in every 9th grade English lit class across the nation to demonstrate to students that writing is not only deep and intellectual but fun and no big deal.
      Featuring a black and white cover photo of a very young Philip Whalen and a very handsome Jack Kerouac by Walter Lehrman, this book is not only all of the above but a wonderful little gem. Michael Rothenberg of Big Bridge Press should be commended for producing this light-hearted, delightful text that comes at a welcomed time.

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