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Now Dig This: The Unspeakable Writings, 1950-1995

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Acclaimed novelist, Beat godfather, prolific screenwriter, and one of the founders of New Journalism, as well as the only guy to wear shades on the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's cover, Terry Southern was an audacious original. Now Dig This is a journey through Terry Southern's America, from the buttoned-down '50s through the sexual revolution, rock 'n' roll, and independent cinem Acclaimed novelist, Beat godfather, prolific screenwriter, and one of the founders of New Journalism, as well as the only guy to wear shades on the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's cover, Terry Southern was an audacious original. Now Dig This is a journey through Terry Southern's America, from the buttoned-down '50s through the sexual revolution, rock 'n' roll, and independent cinema (which he helped inaugurate by cowriting and producing Easy Rider), up to his death in 1995. It spans Southern's stellar career, from early short stories and a Paris Review interview with Henry Green, to his legendary Esquire piece covering the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention with Jean Genet and William Burroughs and his equally infamous account of life neck-high in girls and cocaine aboard The Rolling Stones' tour jet, to his memories of twentieth-century legends like Abbie Hoffman, Kurt Vonnegut, and Stanley Kubrick, with whom he wrote Dr. Strangelove. "A voice electric with street rhythm and royal with offhand intellection ... stuffed with strange and silken scraps." -- Troy Patterson, Entertainment Weekly "The subterranean Texan's finest moments are exquisite reads ... like a hot poker in the eye of conventional narrative." -- A. D. Amorosi, Philadelphia City Paper "The range of writing ... [was] as lethal as Mailer claimed and still awaiting the attention it deserves." -- Charles Taylor, Newsday "... reveals a writer defined by his generosity, by the pursuit of fun and by an insatiable ... literary appetite...." -- Claire Dederer, The New York Times Book Review


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Acclaimed novelist, Beat godfather, prolific screenwriter, and one of the founders of New Journalism, as well as the only guy to wear shades on the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's cover, Terry Southern was an audacious original. Now Dig This is a journey through Terry Southern's America, from the buttoned-down '50s through the sexual revolution, rock 'n' roll, and independent cinem Acclaimed novelist, Beat godfather, prolific screenwriter, and one of the founders of New Journalism, as well as the only guy to wear shades on the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's cover, Terry Southern was an audacious original. Now Dig This is a journey through Terry Southern's America, from the buttoned-down '50s through the sexual revolution, rock 'n' roll, and independent cinema (which he helped inaugurate by cowriting and producing Easy Rider), up to his death in 1995. It spans Southern's stellar career, from early short stories and a Paris Review interview with Henry Green, to his legendary Esquire piece covering the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention with Jean Genet and William Burroughs and his equally infamous account of life neck-high in girls and cocaine aboard The Rolling Stones' tour jet, to his memories of twentieth-century legends like Abbie Hoffman, Kurt Vonnegut, and Stanley Kubrick, with whom he wrote Dr. Strangelove. "A voice electric with street rhythm and royal with offhand intellection ... stuffed with strange and silken scraps." -- Troy Patterson, Entertainment Weekly "The subterranean Texan's finest moments are exquisite reads ... like a hot poker in the eye of conventional narrative." -- A. D. Amorosi, Philadelphia City Paper "The range of writing ... [was] as lethal as Mailer claimed and still awaiting the attention it deserves." -- Charles Taylor, Newsday "... reveals a writer defined by his generosity, by the pursuit of fun and by an insatiable ... literary appetite...." -- Claire Dederer, The New York Times Book Review

30 review for Now Dig This: The Unspeakable Writings, 1950-1995

  1. 4 out of 5

    Printable Tire

    How quaint. Even though we share some of the same interests, possibly some of the same writing style, and I want to have his life and see his career as a role model, all I can think about this collection is how quaint and old fashioned it is. I felt the same way about Burrough's Junky. Maybe I'm over the old 20th century bastions of cool. Terry Southern was probably the life of some parties and networked the shit out of the various cool hotspots he moved to in order to propel his writing career, How quaint. Even though we share some of the same interests, possibly some of the same writing style, and I want to have his life and see his career as a role model, all I can think about this collection is how quaint and old fashioned it is. I felt the same way about Burrough's Junky. Maybe I'm over the old 20th century bastions of cool. Terry Southern was probably the life of some parties and networked the shit out of the various cool hotspots he moved to in order to propel his writing career, but as of now I find him as charming and edgy as Stan Lee's soapboxes in Marvel Comics mags (which by the way are pretty charming, but certainly more nauseating than edgy). Guy must've used the same anecdote about using ice cubes to sustain an erection during blow job season five times now. Is it possible I've outgrown liking dirty old men talking about hot young nubiles? Seems the case, as I just found the interview with him at the front of this book creepy. The only thing I've laughed at so far is Stiff Gook Rimming, and that's only because I'm racist. ----- A note to all ye blowhards and hangers-on: Don't ever have your family and pals edit a compilation of your work, or it'll turn into an episode of Terry Southern, This Is Your Life with all the sloppy and repetitive bits kept in. Keep in the reviews but omit all the memorials to other famous dead groupies. And I don't need three different takes on the crazy 68' convention you went to, grandpa, even if the testimonials change like the gospels each time. And lay off the grass, you name-dropping nostalgia-junkie.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I seem to have read most of the pieces in this book over a period of some forty years or more. Terry Southern was -- as I was growing up -- almost the epitome of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. At the same time he almost personified counterculture and youth (as in Candy), he gave us the script for the still-profound Doctor Strangelove. Reading the pieces in Now Dig This: The Unspeakable Writings, 1950-1995, I am tempted to see if there is a good biography of Southern. For me, he stood for all the I seem to have read most of the pieces in this book over a period of some forty years or more. Terry Southern was -- as I was growing up -- almost the epitome of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. At the same time he almost personified counterculture and youth (as in Candy), he gave us the script for the still-profound Doctor Strangelove. Reading the pieces in Now Dig This: The Unspeakable Writings, 1950-1995, I am tempted to see if there is a good biography of Southern. For me, he stood for all the temptations that I dreamed of succumbing to, but never had the nerve to.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    Terry Southern is a man who was at the right place and time, and could write about it. I like his writing, but I think I admire his life more. Who didn't he know? He knew the Beatles, The Stones, the Dennis Hopper gang, Genet, Gore and his pals, and every legendary Beat. Southern is a really good stylist, but his humor is a tad bit forced for my taste. But on the other hand there are a lot of things to admire in this compilation of his various writings. For instance I very much enjoyed reading h Terry Southern is a man who was at the right place and time, and could write about it. I like his writing, but I think I admire his life more. Who didn't he know? He knew the Beatles, The Stones, the Dennis Hopper gang, Genet, Gore and his pals, and every legendary Beat. Southern is a really good stylist, but his humor is a tad bit forced for my taste. But on the other hand there are a lot of things to admire in this compilation of his various writings. For instance I very much enjoyed reading his article regarding the Rolling Stones 1972 tour. What was it about that tour that attracted so many writers, including Truman Capote? Also is interview with the author Henry Green is superb, as well as the piece on Stanley Kubrick. Not a consistent anthology of his writings, but nevertheless there are some really nice gems in this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John M.

    I thought that this was a great book. The only thing of Southern's that I'd read prior to this collection was his novel 'Candy.' I found this to be just as off-the-wall funny and also interesting as a historical artifact. I truly enjoyed Southern's accounts of getting caught in the thick of the police violence at the 1968 convention in Chicago, flying in the Rolling Stones' jet during one of their tours, working with Stanley Kubrick, dealing with Maurice Girodias and George Plimpton in Paris and, I thought that this was a great book. The only thing of Southern's that I'd read prior to this collection was his novel 'Candy.' I found this to be just as off-the-wall funny and also interesting as a historical artifact. I truly enjoyed Southern's accounts of getting caught in the thick of the police violence at the 1968 convention in Chicago, flying in the Rolling Stones' jet during one of their tours, working with Stanley Kubrick, dealing with Maurice Girodias and George Plimpton in Paris and, of course, hanging with William Burroughs. Reading this book, you come to realize that Southern's career was based just as much upon who he knew as it was on his writing ability.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Despite a killer title, and the author's permanent place in pop culture with baby boomers...this wasn't great. Despite a killer title, and the author's permanent place in pop culture with baby boomers...this wasn't great.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bill Wallace

    A very miscellaneous posthumous collection of Southern's writing, some fiction, some journalistic, some memoirs, and some outrageous, unclassifiable fragments. The good stuff -- his fullest account of Chicago in 1968, memoirs of hijinks in Paris in the 50s. a memoir of swinging London -- is terrific, but there is a lot of repetition here. Like most raconteurs, Southern tells the same stories repeatedly and they grow a little thinner with the retelling. It's also tough not grow weary of the sexis A very miscellaneous posthumous collection of Southern's writing, some fiction, some journalistic, some memoirs, and some outrageous, unclassifiable fragments. The good stuff -- his fullest account of Chicago in 1968, memoirs of hijinks in Paris in the 50s. a memoir of swinging London -- is terrific, but there is a lot of repetition here. Like most raconteurs, Southern tells the same stories repeatedly and they grow a little thinner with the retelling. It's also tough not grow weary of the sexism, clearly an affectation to make a point but the point, once made, becomes tiresome. Still, there are gems here that help tell the bigger story of a remarkable talent whose insights and recounted experiences are illuminating, funny, and historical.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

    Posthumus collection... of good and bad opinions and astute observatins. Assessments of the film industry are particularly cutting and enjoyable. Valuable advice to writers and wannabes.

  8. 5 out of 5

    J. Harding

    This was a bit of a chore to read. Hmm. Did I enjoy it? Some of it. Would I recommend it? Nope.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    An old guy talks writes about the old days of abusing cocaine and harassing women. Southern was there Maaan. He did some great things, but this shallow collection doesn't does his life justice. An old guy talks writes about the old days of abusing cocaine and harassing women. Southern was there Maaan. He did some great things, but this shallow collection doesn't does his life justice.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    A few of these pieces could have easily been cut with no loss of quality and the print was unforgivably small (WTF?) but other than that...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    T.S. was the hepster's hepster. He hung out with some of the Beats, particularly Burroughs (whom he refers to with the moniker "Dr. Benway") and Ginsberg. He wrote the script of "Dr. Strangelove" and accompanied The Stones on part of their 1972 tour. He was even in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention, where he reported on the police brutality. Sometimes, while reading his stuff - you may sense a familiar style, almost as if you've come across it before. Now, I don't know if it's fair to T.S. was the hepster's hepster. He hung out with some of the Beats, particularly Burroughs (whom he refers to with the moniker "Dr. Benway") and Ginsberg. He wrote the script of "Dr. Strangelove" and accompanied The Stones on part of their 1972 tour. He was even in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention, where he reported on the police brutality. Sometimes, while reading his stuff - you may sense a familiar style, almost as if you've come across it before. Now, I don't know if it's fair to say that T.S. 'invented' the "gonzo" style, but if he didn't, he was one of the first to incorporate it into mainstream journalism. Long before Hunter S. Thompson became the face of gonzo. "Now Dig This" is a mixed bag of potential screenplays, interviews, humour pieces he wrote for "The National Lampoon" and stories of his time in Paris in the 1950s. I really enjoyed reading about his exploits, even though some of the Paris ones tended to over-lap. I recommend it as a good primer from one of the true insiders of the American counter-culture.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I got this book as a present, and to be honest I barely even knew who Terry Southern was. Okay, by barely I mean not at all. Reading this collections of letters, essays and short stories I came to learn that Southern was part of an amazing time in writing. He was friends with Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kubrick, Vonnegut and even The Rolling Stones. He was a definite part of "the scene" and in that sense it was interesting reading his many funny anecdotes. But these quickly became repetitive and his ov I got this book as a present, and to be honest I barely even knew who Terry Southern was. Okay, by barely I mean not at all. Reading this collections of letters, essays and short stories I came to learn that Southern was part of an amazing time in writing. He was friends with Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kubrick, Vonnegut and even The Rolling Stones. He was a definite part of "the scene" and in that sense it was interesting reading his many funny anecdotes. But these quickly became repetitive and his overt attempts to shock and awe when discussing sex reminds me why I was never that into Ginsberg and Burroughs in the first place. He's had some amazing experiences, but I don't know that I'd ever need to hang out with him. He's a little too proud of his lasciviousness, and maybe it's just that his writing has become a bit outdated, but there's really nothing all that shocking there. I am going to put Candy on my to-read list, but it certainly won't be at the top.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Terry Southern’s NOW DIG THIS is a grab bag of his miscellaneous writings including short stories, letters, interviews and much more. Those of us who savored THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN and CANDY as well as his contributions to DR. STRANGELOVE might find this appealing; however it may not be for the Terry Southern neophyte. This offering seems to be a kind of clean-out-the-leftover- files book, and thus while it may appeal to the Terry Southern diehard, it may not be for all takers. Nevertheless, there is Terry Southern’s NOW DIG THIS is a grab bag of his miscellaneous writings including short stories, letters, interviews and much more. Those of us who savored THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN and CANDY as well as his contributions to DR. STRANGELOVE might find this appealing; however it may not be for the Terry Southern neophyte. This offering seems to be a kind of clean-out-the-leftover- files book, and thus while it may appeal to the Terry Southern diehard, it may not be for all takers. Nevertheless, there is some great material here.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    Terry's wild, salacious humor fully present here, in a miscellany of forms, but also, sadly, this collection somewhat chronicles his decline into a Capote-like self parody once his era was gone. Still, Terry Southern on his worst day could write (and talk--several of the pieces in this collection are hilarious interviews)in a way most writers can only dream about. Terry's wild, salacious humor fully present here, in a miscellany of forms, but also, sadly, this collection somewhat chronicles his decline into a Capote-like self parody once his era was gone. Still, Terry Southern on his worst day could write (and talk--several of the pieces in this collection are hilarious interviews)in a way most writers can only dream about.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I had always admired the author from his work on "Dr. Strangelove", but had never read anything else by him. The stories are good, but not uniformly so. They taught me about him a bit, enough in fact that I later picked up a biography of him I had always admired the author from his work on "Dr. Strangelove", but had never read anything else by him. The stories are good, but not uniformly so. They taught me about him a bit, enough in fact that I later picked up a biography of him

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leonard Pierce

    Basically a collection of strays, ranging from short fiction to essays to letters to some of Southern's attempts at New Journalism. Anthologized by his son, this is an inessential book (there's nothing staggeringly great here), but it's still a fun read for fans. Basically a collection of strays, ranging from short fiction to essays to letters to some of Southern's attempts at New Journalism. Anthologized by his son, this is an inessential book (there's nothing staggeringly great here), but it's still a fun read for fans.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I especially love the intro story (blood-curdling), and the letter about the general in the Korean War who made a suit out of the assholes of his enemies.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zack

    http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-83... http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-83...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    Pretty good compilation of odds and ends

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Nice chunks about Dr Strangelove and Chicago Riots standout. The rest I cannot recall

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alan Pierson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adriano Nagel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alfred

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  26. 5 out of 5

    Justine

  27. 4 out of 5

    stormagnet

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brent

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Farrell

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wordweaverlynn

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