Jim Burns’ fourth collection, Bohemians, Beats And Blues People (PPP 2013), illuminates neglected twentieth century bohemians through wide-ranging and highly informative essays. Like his previous collections, Beats, Bohemians and Intellectuals, (2000), Radicals, Beats and Beboppers (2011) and Brits, Beats & Outsiders (2012), this book uncovers neglected sources and questions received perceptions of history and movements. Richly documented, the essays are not only informative but also clearly written. There are unexpected delights, such as an essay on the painter, John Craxton, close friend of Lucian Freud and Johnny Minton, as well as an essay In Praise of Booksellers and another on Harry Kemp, the Tramp Poet.
The book examines how the Beats were published in Britain; explores London’s Soho Bohemianism and Café Society and questions the depth and interests of the Sixties ‘underground.’ Burns sees more losses than gains and doubts how far there was any alternative in the underground press. There are essays on writers as diverse as Kurt Vonnegut, B.Traven, Gregory Corso and Gilbert Sorrentino.
Burns explores the philosophy behind Trevin, who had a long publishing career, using many different names, and whose politics made it prudent to conceal his true identity. John Huston adapted his novel, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, into a film, starring Humphrey Bogart. There are evaluations of several significant little magazines, including This Quarter, Kulchur and Evergreen Review. There are also two long essays rhythm ‘n’ blues and its transition into rock ‘n’ roll as well as one on Jack Kerouac’s jazz interests. This book is stuffed full with solidly researched detail and, as such, it is providing its readership with a deep understanding how writers and poets get published and what may happen as a result.