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Missing a Beat: The Rants and Regrets of Seymour Krim

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In 1961, Beat writer Seymour Krim set Greenwich Village on its ear with a slim volume of essays that featured an unleashed voice, a brash title, and a foreword by Norman Mailer. James Baldwin called Views of a Nearsighted Cannoneer an "extraordinary volume." Saul Bellow published an excerpt in his journal The Noble Savage, and Mailer saluted Krim's jazzy prose with its "sh In 1961, Beat writer Seymour Krim set Greenwich Village on its ear with a slim volume of essays that featured an unleashed voice, a brash title, and a foreword by Norman Mailer. James Baldwin called Views of a Nearsighted Cannoneer an "extraordinary volume." Saul Bellow published an excerpt in his journal The Noble Savage, and Mailer saluted Krim's jazzy prose with its "shifts and shatterings of mood." Despite such praise and critical attention, Krim's work is excluded from most Beat anthologies and is little known outside literary circles. With Missing a Beat, a collection of eighteen essays by Krim published between 1957 and 1989, Cohen introduces this influential writer to a new generation. In the Village Voice, New York Magazine, New York Times, and elsewhere, Krim pioneered a new style of subjective and personal reporting to write about the postwar American scene from a Jewish angle. Aggressively unacademic, Krim's journalism displays the "rapid, nervous, breathless tempo" that Irving Howe called a hallmark of Jewish literature. Krim outlived his early literary fame, but he produced an impressive body of work and was a tremendous prose stylist. Missing a Beat resurrects an American original, finding Krim a new literary home among such celebrated writers as Norman Mailer, David Mamet, and Saul Bellow.


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In 1961, Beat writer Seymour Krim set Greenwich Village on its ear with a slim volume of essays that featured an unleashed voice, a brash title, and a foreword by Norman Mailer. James Baldwin called Views of a Nearsighted Cannoneer an "extraordinary volume." Saul Bellow published an excerpt in his journal The Noble Savage, and Mailer saluted Krim's jazzy prose with its "sh In 1961, Beat writer Seymour Krim set Greenwich Village on its ear with a slim volume of essays that featured an unleashed voice, a brash title, and a foreword by Norman Mailer. James Baldwin called Views of a Nearsighted Cannoneer an "extraordinary volume." Saul Bellow published an excerpt in his journal The Noble Savage, and Mailer saluted Krim's jazzy prose with its "shifts and shatterings of mood." Despite such praise and critical attention, Krim's work is excluded from most Beat anthologies and is little known outside literary circles. With Missing a Beat, a collection of eighteen essays by Krim published between 1957 and 1989, Cohen introduces this influential writer to a new generation. In the Village Voice, New York Magazine, New York Times, and elsewhere, Krim pioneered a new style of subjective and personal reporting to write about the postwar American scene from a Jewish angle. Aggressively unacademic, Krim's journalism displays the "rapid, nervous, breathless tempo" that Irving Howe called a hallmark of Jewish literature. Krim outlived his early literary fame, but he produced an impressive body of work and was a tremendous prose stylist. Missing a Beat resurrects an American original, finding Krim a new literary home among such celebrated writers as Norman Mailer, David Mamet, and Saul Bellow.

36 review for Missing a Beat: The Rants and Regrets of Seymour Krim

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rick Bowen

    Too much editors' commentary versus actual writing for my taste, but the essential of Krim's work (which are his essays) are here. Krim's best in small doses and his "be-bop" style stretched past say 5000 words can be deadening to somebody just looking for a straightforward read. But he amongst all his "beat" contemporaries seemed in possession of a mind that would allow him to see past so many cultural cliches. Compare him favorably to the likes of Norman Mailer whose "White Negro" period writi Too much editors' commentary versus actual writing for my taste, but the essential of Krim's work (which are his essays) are here. Krim's best in small doses and his "be-bop" style stretched past say 5000 words can be deadening to somebody just looking for a straightforward read. But he amongst all his "beat" contemporaries seemed in possession of a mind that would allow him to see past so many cultural cliches. Compare him favorably to the likes of Norman Mailer whose "White Negro" period writings of the 50's are embarrassing and unreadable in my opinion. He never unplugged from the zeitgeist of his era and that might have made Mailer a more interesting party guest than Krim but not nearly as good a writer.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lemar

    A machine gun mind firing observations. If you are interested in the '50's counterculture Mr. Krim gives it to you straight, figuring you can take it. He’s often funny but he’s not kidding. He writes naturally in an incisive, rhythmic style that would later be known as beat. Highest recommendation. A machine gun mind firing observations. If you are interested in the '50's counterculture Mr. Krim gives it to you straight, figuring you can take it. He’s often funny but he’s not kidding. He writes naturally in an incisive, rhythmic style that would later be known as beat. Highest recommendation.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Having never heard of him, I came across Krim's essay "For My Brothers and Sisters in the Failure Business" in Lopate's anthology Art of the Personal Essay. I'm a big fan of essays, especially those with anarchic voices, and Krim's is jolting, wondrous piece. I love discovering long forgotten but talented writers like Krim. Having never heard of him, I came across Krim's essay "For My Brothers and Sisters in the Failure Business" in Lopate's anthology Art of the Personal Essay. I'm a big fan of essays, especially those with anarchic voices, and Krim's is jolting, wondrous piece. I love discovering long forgotten but talented writers like Krim.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Giovanni Garcia-Fenech

  5. 5 out of 5

    Syracuse University Press

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Hayes-Minney

  8. 5 out of 5

    Eric Fitzsimmons

    A Man for Our Time Could Seymour Krim make a comeback? Could a little-known holdover from the beat generation, a writer who died nearly 30 years ago, have something new to say to the iPhone generation? Not likely, but for my money the collection of essays in Missing a Beat felt among the most present discussions of celebrity, ambition, envy, doubt, and optimism in modern America that I have read recently.   Krim comes across in this collection as a disappointed striver. A writer who came up throug A Man for Our Time Could Seymour Krim make a comeback? Could a little-known holdover from the beat generation, a writer who died nearly 30 years ago, have something new to say to the iPhone generation? Not likely, but for my money the collection of essays in Missing a Beat felt among the most present discussions of celebrity, ambition, envy, doubt, and optimism in modern America that I have read recently.   Krim comes across in this collection as a disappointed striver. A writer who came up through the beat generation and kept plugging through the era of New Journalism, but never quite found that pearl Kerouac had promised: “Somewhere along the line I knew there’d be girls, visions, everything.” He is constantly in the shadow of more famous friends — recounted most directly in “Norman Mailer, Get Out of My Head!” — and frustrated in his efforts to achieve the kind of fame/notoriety or the wild adventures everyone around him seemed to be having. But Missing a Beat isn't merely a collection of regrets. What makes Krim's writing meaningful is the way he interrogates his own sense of failure. Why is it that he has to measure himself by Mailer’s fame? What is wrong with being a struggling artist? Isn’t that what he had wanted? How should he measure his own success?   In essays like “For My Brothers and Sisters in the Failure Business,” Krim reckons as much with his own expectations and faults as he does with the terms of success society has handed him. Krim recounts how limitless possibilities have led him to chase dream after dream without settling into one place or occupation. He writes about a quiet movement of dreamers like him who have missed out on the middle class comforts of a stable career path — a savings account, a house, a family, a title, a legacy — and must sate themselves on the hope for something new and better tomorrow. “I’ve published several serious books. I rate an inch in Who’s Who in America. I teach at a so-called respected university. But in that profuse upstairs delicatessen of mine I'm as open to every wild possibility I was at 13, although even I know that the chances of acting them out diminish with each heartbeat.” Krim wrote “For My Brothers and Sisters in the Failure Business” when he was 51 years old — that’s better than 20 years my senior — and I’m not sure if I should be comforted or very, very worried about that fact. What Krim saw as a freak community of dreamers is just reality for many of us today for whom “careers” at one company have gone the way of the Studebaker. He seems to warn of a future where unfavorable comparisons to the financial success of peers is constant, a future that's easy to imagine as I scroll the vacation photos of my friends on Instagram.   In fact much of Krim's writing seems eerily suited to the social media landscape, despite preceding it by decades, a fact I think that makes it only more applicable. Too many writers get hung up on the latest app or feature, sure that society will be redeemed or destroyed by a new filter on Snapchat. Social media may highlight our insecurities, but Krim reminds us that these have been around long before we ever started carrying them around in our pockets. “You may sometimes think everyone lives in the crotch of the pleasure principle these days except you, but you have company, friend. … It is still your work or role that finally gives you your definition in our society, and the thousands upon thousands of people who I believe are like me are those who have never found the professional skin to fit the riot in their souls.” “For my Brothers and Sisters in the Failure Business" is a standout, but the same themes carry through many of his essays including “Making It!” and “The American Novel Made Me” without becoming repetitive. Each essay seems to come from a different angle: lack of direction, envy, and ambition, respectively. The writing itself crackles throughout with the energy of the beat generation. He writes in long sentences, each with several parenthetical phrases and catalogs that go to ten items or longer. He deploys slang but sparingly and to good effect. The descriptions are grounded in real sensations using onomatopoeia and analogies to the items and people around him instead of reaching for more academic language (like onomatopoeia). His essays seem always anchored in place, even as zooms out for a wider view, the world is recognizably his.   Missing a Beat is a good read for anyone a few years out of school who is starting to rethink their career choices and sometimes Googles “how to work abroad” while at work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adam P.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  11. 4 out of 5

    The Jewish Book Council

  12. 4 out of 5

    Seth

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

  14. 5 out of 5

    Moira Russell

  15. 5 out of 5

    Renee

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andy

  17. 5 out of 5

    angela

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jorgen

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jon

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mark Cohen

  22. 4 out of 5

    Terry Kattleman

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susannah Greenberg

  24. 4 out of 5

    bee

  25. 4 out of 5

    tinybluehands

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Hatt

  27. 4 out of 5

    J.C.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amber

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Leah

  31. 5 out of 5

    Nicolás de Llaca

  32. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  33. 4 out of 5

    Dann

  34. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Dibbern

  35. 5 out of 5

    Destiny Nowlin

  36. 4 out of 5

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