BEAT BLUES: san francisco, 1955

a novel


Pub Date November 25th, 2021

the Beat goes on…

A well-woven spy novel set in the seething, influential Beat Generation milieu of San Francisco, 1955. Raskin has done his research. When he has Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Kaufman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Shig Murao and Gregory Corso speak, the results are in the ballpark of reality. He’s good at depicting the moiling lives of Beat era figures, such as the tragic Natalie Jackson, featured in Kerouac’s TheDharma Bums. The novel skillfully blends activities of the burgeoning Civil Rights movement into the liberation-loving Beat era. — ED SANDERS

Part road novel and part reality-inspired fiction, Beat Blues: San Francisco, 1955 explores a time and a place when the American counterculture was born, southern racism was exposed, and the Cold War began to thaw with the publication of Ginsberg’s Howl, Kerouac’s On the Road, Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind, Bob Kaufman’s Abomunist Manifesto and the magazine “Beatitude.” Beat Blues takes readers behind the scenes at Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore and into the enclaves of San Francisco where bohemians, artists and hipsters dig jazz greats and rub shoulders with Gregory Corso, Nelson Algren and Simone de Beauvoir.

Rendezvous with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Bob Kaufman, Neal Cassady and their near constant companion, Natalie Jackson, all of them on the border that  divides anonymity from notoriety and madness from sanity. Beat Blues observes the Beat phenomena through the eyes of Norman de Haan, an ex-New Yorker and a veteran of World War II, who moves back and forth from North Beach to the Black neighborhood in the Fillmore District, where the Civil Rights movement reverberates and the characters mourn the murder of
Emmett Till. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonah Raskin is a long time teacher, scholar and aficionado of the Beat writers. The author of American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and the Making of the Beat Generation, which the San Francisco Chronicle named one of the best books of the year, he has also written about Jack Kerouac and Jazz, William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and Junky and the only study of Natalie Jackson. Raskin taught Beat literature at the State University of New York at Stony Book and at Sonoma State University. The author of three noir novels and a performance poet, he has published six poetry chapbooks, including Rock ‘n’ Roll Women. An ex-New Yorker, he now makes his home in San Francisco, a city which he has written about in essays, articles and in the booklet San Francisco: Gold Rush to Google. He writes for CounterPunch, the New York Journal of Books, Tablet, The Rag Blog and the North Bay Bohemian.  He can be reached at

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