The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
The so-called beat generation in 1950s Britain bestowed cult status on WH Davies's Autobiography Of A Supertramp and the lyrics and politics of Lord Buckley, Joe Hill and Woody Guthrie.
Jack Kerouac was hugely influential too with his book On The Road cited as a beatnik inspiration, especially by the many hagiographers who claim it's an existential take on the American Dream.
Based on that work, the thrust of Salles's film is the early friendship between the likes of Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs along with their associates in New York.
Beginning in 1941 when his contemporaries were being drafted - Kerouac being invalided out on mental health grounds - the book was completed in 1951 and finally published in 1957.
It was attacked by conservatives for promoting drink, drugs and sexual deviancy. Its stream of consciousness, influenced by the syncopated rhythms of bebop jazz, caused uproar too.
Others challenged Kerouac's spiritual and political sympathies along with his emphasis on Catholic symbolism. He drew criticism too for his treatment of women as sex objects and his championing of McCarthyite anti-communism.
Kerouac wrote On The Road by typing it onto strips of tracing paper he stuck together so he could write non-stop.
It's thus difficult to adapt to the screen and Walter Salles's solution is to repeat the formula of The Motorcycle Diaries by immersing himself and his actors in a recreation of the book's road trip.
In this fiction Sam Riley plays Sal Paradise (Kerouac) as a callow wannabe-writer who's seduced by the more worldly, charismatic Dean Moriarty (Cassady) played by Garret Hedlund.
He struggles to look beatific because he always attracts beautiful, intelligent women like Camille (Kirsten Dunst) and Marylou (Kristen Stewart) along with sanctifying sodomy by satisfying Carlo Marx (Ginsberg), played by Tom Sturridge.
The film moves from New York and out into the country, interrupted only by shagging, stealing and casual labour, before the protagonists are finally confronted by their women rightly demanding a life.
There's a great cameo from Viggo Mortensen as Old Bull Lee (Burroughs) and much to enjoy from the music and the sublime scenery central to US art and movies.