Little Boy

A Novel
Narrated by: Peter Coyote
Length: 5 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the famed publisher and poet, author of the million-copy-selling collection A Coney Island of the Mind, his literary last will and testament - part autobiography, part summing up, part Beat-inflected torrent of language and feeling, and all magical.

"A volcanic explosion of personal memories, political rants, social commentary, environmental jeremiads, and cultural analysis all tangled together in one breathless sentence that would make James Joyce proud...." (Ron Charles, The Washington Post)

In this unapologetically unclassifiable work, Lawrence Ferlinghetti lets loose an exhilarating rush of language to craft what might be termed a closing statement about his highly significant and productive 99 years on this planet. The "Little Boy" of the title is Ferlinghetti himself as a child, shuffled from his overburdened mother to his French aunt to foster childhood with a rich Bronxville family. Service in World War Two (including the D-Day landing), graduate work, and a scholar gypsy's vagabond life in Paris followed. 

These biographical reminiscences are interweaved with Allen Ginsberg-esque high-energy bursts of raw emotion, rumination, reflection, reminiscence, and prognostication on what we may face as a species on planet Earth in the future. 

Little Boy is a magical font of literary lore with allusions galore, a final repository of hard-earned and durable wisdom, a compositional high-wire act without a net (or all that much punctuation) and just a gas and an inspiration to listen to.

©2019 Lawrence Ferlinghetti (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Little Boy may start off sounding like a conventional memoir, but before long, Ferlinghetti reclaims his beat soul, quickens the pace, dropping punctuation like a used-up booster rocket, and off we go on the last wild, motor-mouth, book-length riff of this poet’s generation. All finger-popping readers will be gleefully swept up in this hip word-flood, this spontaneous stream - no, make that torrent of consciousness. Bravo, maestro!” (Billy Collins)

“Wonderfully effusive [and] stunningly evocative.... This book is a Proustian celebration of both memory and moments that will delight readers.” (Publishers Weekly

“Ferlinghetti has given us a uniquely revelatory book. At first his narrative was what I'd hoped it would be, and then his words turned, like lively flashing fish, into what he wanted it to be, so he could leisurely reel me in, ever so surely, to his sublime conclusion. Little Boy evoked my surprise and delight - thank you, Lawrence!" (Ann Charters, editor of The Portable Beat Reader and Kerouac: A Biography

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Centenarian Sentinels His Century

A centenarian's turbocharged trippin' through the past 100 years. A prose poem for and from the ages; autobiography freestyle. A hot potato one last time in an old artiste's pocket. Rock it!

What a life! I loved the trip through the Great Depression, WWII, living as an artist in Paris in the late 1940s, then forward up to a heyday in publishing the biggest of the Beat poets, to now, then back again.

The man, it should be noted, worships the vulva. And women; in particular, one woman. And life! If this doth offend thee, flee.

Quite fun, if you don't mind whitewaters of consciousness from a fascinating and witty 100-year-old. Me, whenever I get the chance, I take the pleasure of listening to an octagenarian (and older) as he/she waxes on. It is always a story worth savoring. This was no different.

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What a powerful experience!

This roller coaster of poetry and observation, angry rant and remembrance of passions past was a wonderful trip inside the mind of an amazing hundred year old man.

Autobiography of a fractured childhood interrupted by bursts of poetic imagery filled with references to every book, movie, song and bit of wisdom ever created by the “civilized” World. The bits and pieces of Ferlinghetti’s life story float along amidst his recollections of people, places and experiences he has known. Every one of these moments evokes a reflection of his philosophy of life and his often angry, often rapturous reaction to it.

He uses the tale of his early life to warn us of what we have lost and the accounting coming due for what we have become. He recounts the beauty and wonder he has known and looks forward to more of the same knowing full well that he and we will probably never know their like again.

So, reading Little Boy may not be all sunshine and butterflies but the poetry of its words and the scope of its worldview made it for me a highly rewarding moment I won’t soon forget. Peter Coyote’s narration brought a perfect dramatic sensitivity to the Old Beatnik’s words.

1 person found this helpful