Seymour Krim

Seymour Krim’s death, August 30, 1989, announced, the following day, in the New York Times.

“Seymour Krim, an author and critic, was found dead, apparently of a drug overdose, in his Manhattan apartment last night…Mr. Krim, who was 67 years old, was found sitting in a chair in his apartment at 120 East 10th Street. A bottle of pills and notes explaining his apparent suicide were found nearby…..”

Gerald Nicosia in The Washington Post gives a little more detail

“A note explained to the police that he had followed the instructions for a painless death provided for terminal patients by the Hemlock Society. He did not want to grow so weak that he might be attacked on the street, or linger for months in a hospital. Another note asked that his ashes be scattered from the George Washington Bridge, in the shadow of which he had been born. It was not a death he meant us to grieve over…”

Beat anthologist, Beat iconoclast, Beat stylist, and sometime Beat scholar  (he, famously, wrote the introduction for Kerouac’s 1965 novel, Desolation Angels), Krim certainly had the credentials.  But, as Alviva Gottlieb pointed out, in her review of Mark Cohen’s (2010) posthumous collection, Missing A Beat – The Rants and Regrets of Seymour Krim , in the LA Times. 

Though his verbose, misogynistic, endlessly vulgar vernacular caught some of the bop inflections of the Beat era”,  “the Beats never welcomed him.”.  Krim has been pretty much occluded from Beat histories, not included in any of the subsequent anthologies, arguably, slipped through the cracks. Cohen’s collection (reviewed here by Joshua Cohen and here by Sarah Vogelsong) was an attempt to revive his reputation, “a compendium of his grand kvetches, (that) will remind you of a true indispensable American individual” declared the American Book Review.

One example of his prophetic Beat understanding – this essay on Kerouac – from his 1970 collection, Shake It For The World, Smartass -“The Kerouac Legacy”.

His analysis of Allen was a little more contentious. To be fair, he recognized early on that “Howl” was “an exciting achievement” but famously took issue over the poem’s opening line (in his 1959 essay, “The Insanity Bit”),  accusing Allen of what he saw there as “lurid sensationalism” – from one madman to another madman –  (see Seymour Krim’s “Howl – I Was Not Destroyed, Mr Ginsberg”  in the always-of-interest blog, Literary Kicks.)

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