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When I Was Cool: My Life at the Jack Kerouac…
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When I Was Cool: My Life at the Jack Kerouac School (2004)

by Sam Kashner

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1514124,390 (3.72)4
"As a restless kid on Long Island, Sam Kashner lapped up the beauty and madness of the Beats, living vicariously through the novels, poems, and stories of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs. Their words were revolutionary, and they turned their very lives into art. Kashner didn't want to just study the Beats, he wanted to be one of them. So when he heard that Ginsberg had founded an unconventional writing program in Boulder, Colorado, he convinced his parents that college could wait, and became the first certificate student of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.". "In one motion, Kashner stepped out of a sheltered suburban life and plunged into the chaotic world of his idols. What he discovered was both everything and not at all what he expected. The Beats were facing their twilight years and feeling it in their joints and in their minds. Some of them, like Ginsberg and Burroughs, had achieved international fame, while others, like Gregory Corso, had not, and were coming to the realization that they might never receive the recognition they deserved. In his new role as student, secretary, and psychiatrist, Sam Kashner was caught up in the hilarity of the hijinks and the cross fire of old arguments, finding himself in hot tubs with Ginsberg and on field trips to the marijuana ranch cultivated by Burroughs and his ill-fated son, Billy.". "When I Was Cool is also a very personal journey of a young man coming of age on the Beat slope of Mount Parnassus ("the Lower East Side" of the Rockies), a kind of Holden Caulfield for the postmodern era."--HarperCollins BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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an odd story that would be of interest to those readers who have an affinity for the writers of the Beat movement. Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Ann Waldman and Gregory Corso have starring roles. The author, Sam Kashner, graduating from high school is focused on becoming a poet and convinces his parents to support his enrollment in the newly formed jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. The story is as strange as the name of the school implies. Well written, a sensitive and, at times, humorous coming of age story. ( )
  berthirsch | Jan 8, 2019 |
Kashner was the first, and for a while, the only, student at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute. The Institute was one of those spiritual experiments of the 1970s with gurus running amuck and people pretending that this is the way things should be. Kashner both runs slightly amuck and sees through some of the posturing while he's there. This memoir is, above all, fond, which makes it a delight to read. ( )
1 vote aulsmith | Dec 5, 2010 |
A humorous, easy-to-read memoir about the author's experieces as the first student at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in the late 1970s. Recommended to those interested in the beats and specifically, Allen Ginsburg, William S. Burroughs, and Gregory Corso. ( )
  chadmarsh | Aug 5, 2007 |
As funny as it is heartbreaking, Sam Kashner got the college experience I longed for as an undergraduate--and he did it with beatniks! As the best (and for a long time, sole) student at the Jack Kerouac School for Disembodied Poetics, Kashner got to live his dream by hanging out with, going on beer runs for, and being taught by the then-surviving greats--Allen Ginsburg, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs, and a host of other beats at the Naropa Institute. He parents were shockingly good-natured about it, and the graduation ceremony was beautiful! A testament to college life and beat literature! An all-round excellent read! Thanks, Dad! This was one of the greatest Christmas gifts ever! ( )
1 vote Heather_Heck | Feb 6, 2007 |
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