Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review of Who was Sinclair Beiles? by Dawn Swope

This little book grows and grows. It is a revised and expanded edition, the third edition in all. The book
first surfaced in 2009.

Little was known about Sinclair Beiles outside of his home country, South Africa. He got a name largely by being around Burroughs, Gysin, Ginsberg and Corso at the ‘Beat Hotel’ in Paris in the 1950s. There were photos of them all together. Beiles collaborated on the cult book Minutes To Go in 1960. There were conversations about books in the pipeline. Beiles worked at the Olympia Press, famous of course for Maurice Girodias and Junkie and other things.

Beiles never quite established his name in Europe and he struggled in his homeland also. His Ashes of
Experience won prizes but caused few ripples anywhere.

But he had a gift and a band of people did believe in him over the years. Gary Cummiskey for one, Fred de Vries, Carl Weissner, Heathcote Williams. They all befriended Beiles through Europe, Amsterdam, London, Greece, South Africa.

Beiles was hampered by his drug consumption, his personal issues. He was always on the cusp of something. He was a casualty of the literary world, a sometime Syd Barrett figure. A nearly man.

Gary Cummiskey and Eva Kowalska have researched and then some more to strip away the layers of time and fog around Beiles. More understanding, photos, bibliographies, letters. Well done to them.

Published in Beat Scene no 80, December 2015


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