Memos From Purgatory

Hemingway said, A man should never write what he doesn t know In the mid fifties, Harlan Ellison kicked out of college and hungry to write went to New York to start his writing career It was a time of street gangs, rumbles, kids with switchblades and zip guns made from car radio antennas Ellison was barely out of his teens himself, but he took a phony name, moved inHemingway said, A man should never write what he doesn t know In the mid fifties, Harlan Ellison kicked out of college and hungry to write went to New York to start his writing career It was a time of street gangs, rumbles, kids with switchblades and zip guns made from car radio antennas Ellison was barely out of his teens himself, but he took a phony name, moved into Brooklyn s dangerous Red Hook section and managed to con his way into a bopping club What he experienced and the time he spent in jail as a result was the basis for the violent story that Alfred Hitchcock filmed as the first of his hour long TV dramasThis autobiography is a book whose message you won t be able to ignore or forget Harlan Ellison is the dark prince of American letters, cutting through our corrupted midnight fog with a switchblade prose He simply must be read Pete Hamill Ellison writes with sensitivity as well as guts a rare combination Leslie Charteris, creator of The Saint
Memos From Purgatory Hemingway said A man should never write what he doesn t know In the mid fifties Harlan Ellison kicked out of college and hungry to write went to New York to start his writing career It was a time of

  • Title: Memos From Purgatory
  • Author: Harlan Ellison
  • ISBN: 2940000138878
  • Page: 114
  • Format: Nook
  • 1 thought on “Memos From Purgatory”

    1. I feel somewhat goofy giving this book five stars, because it's far from a perfect book. But I read it at EXACTLY the right moment in my life. Something about Ellison's tone and style just completely cut me to the bone, and it forever altered the way I thought about writing. What impressed me first was the incredible lyricism I found in his writing, at once hard-boiled and erudite in a way that more traditional "detective" writing had never been. But far more important was the sense of compassio [...]

    2. One of the great literary heroes of my youth. I read this book originally when I was maybe 16 years old or so, and it holds up, in my opinion.

    3. Harlan Ellison goes undercover and joins a street gang - and finds out more about himself than he thought he would.

    4. Harlan Ellison rather famously infiltrated a real-life Brooklyn street gang in 1954 at the age of 19 to do background research for his first novel. His experiences became the basis for the novel Web of the City (1958) and two subsequent short story collections, The Deadly Streets (1958) and Gentleman Junkie (1961). These books were perhaps the most authentic juvenile delinquent pulp fiction ever written, although they lacked what you might call literary merit. They were decent for a beginning wr [...]

    5. For ten weeks in 1954, then twenty-year-old writer Harlan Ellison adopted the alias of teenager Phil “Cheech” Beldone and joined a NYC street gang called the Barons all in the name of research—an endeavor that nearly cost Ellison his life on more than one occasion, from the gang initiation ritual to the final savage, bloody rumble against a rival gang in Prospect Park.Fast-forward seven years to 1961 when Ellison attended a gathering in NYC and encountered an old “friend” named Ken Bal [...]

    6. Memos From Purgatory is two books in one - both of them memoirs rather than fiction. The Gang is the first book and goes back to 1954 when the 20 year old Ellison went "undercover" in a Brooklyn street gang for ten weeks. His depiction of gang life is very well done, but the writing is a bit dated by the constraints of the censorship of the time. It is all here, from his initiation, through his relationships with the gang members, up to the rumble with a rival gang that drove him off the project [...]

    7. It feels more like memoir than the fiction it is purported to be, and it shows a writer of 'speculative' fiction to be a thinker of a far more wide ranging variety. This is a tough, fearless and relentless look at the interior of NY street gangs in the 50s that set the stage for writers like Hunter S. Thompson to infiltrate the Hell's Angels years later.

    8. This book was really fantastic and incredibly interesting. I got lucky and picked up a copy for a buck at a local gift shop and it was perhaps the best dollar I ever spent on a book. Definitely worth the read could not put down.

    9. Harlan Ellison's contribution to the New Journalism of the late 1960's. Memos tells the story of his going undercover in a street gang, and later about a night he spent in an overcrowded jail. Powerfully visceral stuff, if a tad overwrought at times.

    10. This memoir about going undercover with a teen gang and the dehumanizing criminal justice system in which he's trapped for 24 hours is vivid and harrowing, as Ellison almost goes out of his mind with fright (being cuffed to a man who killed a girl with a hammer didn't help). An amazing book.

    11. This one was very hard to find when I came across it. About his days of joining a gang so he would be better able to write about the people in them, and the mentality.

    12. The best that I can say of Memos is intermittently entertaining. One thing that the other reviews here don't make clear enough is that the book does not read like a memoir. In fact, it's barely distinguishable from juvenile delinquent novels popular at the time except for the pretense of being true. I am very skeptical of that pretense.In the first half Ellison runs with a Brooklyn kid gang. He infiltrates the gang, is initiated (his initiation includes the statutory rape of a 16 year old virgin [...]

    13. This was the first book I read by Ellison and it definitely won't be the last."Memos" is full of poignant realizations about our society and it's lack of concern with impoverished youth as well as the vast destructive nature of the prison industrial complex. Ellison's writing is concise and powerful making his prose truly inspirational to read. This is one of his only nonfiction books but it doesn't make it any less powerful.

    14. Really loved the first half of this book because it shows the way 50s street gangs really were. For once, the subject matter doesn't feel like an old Marlon Brandowe film. The second part falls apart a bit because it feels like Ellison's own abhorrence for being a jail cell for one day. its interesting to know his very human reaction, but it didm't really tell me much. Besides the subject matter is so dated that being in jail in moderns times must be a thousand times worse.

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