Sorry that this post is somewhat belated...
Could _The Beat Book_ be _The Beat Reader_? If so, it's edited by Ann Charters, published by Penguin Books as part of the "Viking Portable Library." If this is what you were referring to, you're right...it's great.
Right now I'm reading Sir Peter Hall's _Naked Masks_ and rereading Rosamond Jacob's book _The Troubled House_. The latter is excellent, but unfortunately it's long out of print and nobody's ever heard of it--fictional book about the troubles in Ireland (same problem that continues in Northern Ireland today). Deals with issues like shall we fight for freedom or maintain pacifism?
Also sort of perusing _ALOUD: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe_, which was one of the best spontaneous buys I ever bought, several years ago. Do I remember Monsieur Asher having some kind of brush with this cafe? Could be my imagination.