The movie is about the genesis of the Beat Generation of writers, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, all of whom were brought together as college students by Lucian Carr, a troubled 19-year-old apparently struggling with his sexuality, who was subsequently accused of murdering an older man (played creepily and pathetically by Michael C. Hall) who had been obsessed with Lucien since his early teens. The killing and its aftermath helped propel the early writings of Ginsberg, Burroughs and Kerouac, although the book Burroughs and Kerouac wrote together about the murder—an uneven novel in which both men were still finding their voice—wasn't published till sixty years later in 2008. Titled And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, it was not the basis of the movie, directed by John Krokidas. Daniel Radcliffe, formerly of the Harry Potter franchise, plays Allen Ginsberg with a literary and sexual intensity that will make you forget that Potter kid. He willingly allows himself to get ensnared in the psychological manipulations of Lucien Carr, hauntingly portrayed by Dane DeHaan. At one point, Carr abandons a smitten Ginsberg by saying, "I gave you what you wanted. You were ordinary before you met me," or words to that effect.
Kill Your Darlings, in editing parlance, means get rid of those flourishes in your writing that you most love, as they are probably self-indulgent. As an editor, I have never entirely agreed with that, but the idea fits this coming-of-age tale of murder and poetry well, in that it's about young men rejecting the most revered literary and erotic canons of their time, daring to create their own vision of what the literary life might be.
After the movie Leslie and I walked to Lincoln Center Plaza and sat on the rim of the fountain there, in front of the Metropolitan Opera House, just chatting and watching people mill around the fountain's water dance in the cool night air. I felt very much in the moment of my life, not needing to be anywhere but where I was, doing anything other than what I was doing, and these moments, when I pause to notice them, are a gift.
In time we made our way home. I walked into my house to find my husband cleaning up the kitchen and ready to consider dinner. We decided to order Chinese, as he told me our son would soon be home, with company in tow, four of his friends who were planning to watch the Miami U. vs. Florida State game at our house. Soon there were six men with long limbs filling my living room, eating Chinese food and bonding over the game. My husband was happy to have the company to cheer along with him as his beloved alma mater, Miami U., took on their biggest rivals. And I was happy, after dinner, to retire to my bedroom, fully accompanied by the sounds issuing from the front of the house, yet serenely alone with my Kindle and my computer and comfortable bed and cosy comforter. I did a lot of googling of the real life characters from the movie, learning much I had not known despite having been a literature major at the same university these young men attended. As my daughter likes to say, "I've learned more from Google than I ever learned in school."
Here are a couple of random snaps from my very good day.
|Pineapple, grape and honey dew juice, nothing but|
|The dancing fountain|
|My fellow wanderer|