Photograph: Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Barbara Rubin, Bob Dylan, and Daniel Kramer backstage at McCarter Theater, in Princeton, New Jersey, September, 1964. © Daniel Kramer.
Eli Wilentz's Eighth Street Bookstore between 8th and MacDougal in Greenwich Village, "Three Floors of Books," was such a cool destination. Books, authors, students, serious readers, it was an important off-campus resource to me as an NYU student. Established in the 1950s, it was gutted by fire in 1976 and was rebuilt. However, it was closed in 1979. According to the NY Times obituary, Mr. Wilentz decided to close it when it became clear that none of his children were interested in carrying on the family business. Well, yes and no. Sean Wilentz, son of co-founder Eli who passed away in 1995, may not have been a retail kind of guy, but he has certainly made his mark in the literary world of course as a Princeton University professor of American History and an author/historian. His most recent book, Bob Dylan in America, will be released in September. It looks to be a very good one, indeed. The New Yorker is publishing a generous excerpt:
From Chapter 2: Dylan’s continuing link to the Beat generation, though, came chiefly through his friend and sometime mentor Allen Ginsberg. Dylan’s link with Ginsberg dated back to the end of 1963, a pivotal moment in the lives and careers of both men. Thereafter, in the mid-1960s, the two would complete important artistic transitions, each touched and supported by the other. On and off, their rapport lasted for decades. And in 1997, in New Brunswick, Canada, Dylan would dedicate a concert performance of “Desolation Row” to Ginsberg, his longtime comrade, telling the audience it was Allen’s favorite of his songs, on the evening after Ginsberg died. -from Sean Wilentz's new book Bob Dylan in America, scheduled for September publication by Doubleday
Bob Dylan in America by Sean Wilentz. Read more in this excerpt in The New Yorker here
Eighth Street Bookshop Photo by Fred McDarrah