The Late Movies: Authors Reading Their Own Works

Mark Arminio

There is music in words, a quiet and careful cadence that each author uses to create compelling works. Tonight for the Late Movies, here are some authors reading their own material.

Leading off tonight is Jack Kerouac reading from On The Road. Part of the Beat Generation, Kerouac often compared his own words to jazz. Emphasized by a piano backing in this clip, you can definitely hear the musical pacing of his lyrics.

Hunter S. Thompson, journalist, poet and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, was an unrepentant and lifelong user of drugs and alcohol. Found in the basement of his Owl Farm home in Woody Creek, Colorado, after Thompson's suicide in 2005, The Gonzo Tapes (Thompson's nickname was Gonzo) are an intense look into the mind of troubled genius. This is the first track, recorded at Bass Lake, CA, in 1965 when Gonzo was there with the Hells Angels. Careful, this one has some naughty language.

In this clip, the fantastic Maya Angelou recites her poem "Still I Rise." You can hear the deep passion and pride in her voice.

In this clip, T.S. Eliot recites one of his most famous works, "The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock." Born in St. Louis, Eliot would later become a British citizen but always claimed his emotional inspiration came from the land of his birth.

This clip is entitled "Tock Tick" and features author Kurt Vonnegut reading from Slaughterhouse-Five set to background music by Simon Heselev.

Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison, perhaps best known for her work Beloved, reads here from a later work, A Mercy, which was released in 2008.

Finally, here is Frank McCourt reading from Angela's Ashes, his work exploring life in Limerick City in the 1930s and 1940s. His notable accent adds a tremendous layer to the work and the audience reaction helps highlight the humor.
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If you've got a favorite "author reading his or her own work" clip, leave the link in the comments.

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