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Bebop

Andrew O’Hagan, 5 October 1995

Jack KerouacSelected Letters 1940-56 
edited by Ann Charters.
Viking, 629 pp., £25, August 1995, 0 670 84952 9
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... could hear was the giggles and gasps. On my little TV, where the picture was jumpy at first, was Jack Kerouac. He was sitting up at a white piano, and Steve Allen tinkled away at the keys. Kerouac is very clean, very neat, but he looks nervous. Allen is smug. He’s a polyester-clad uncle sitting at the piano. ‘You ...

He K-norcked Her One

August Kleinzahler: Burroughs and Kerouac’s Novel, 28 May 2009

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks 
by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
Penguin, 214 pp., £20, November 2008, 978 1 84614 164 5
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... Vanity of Duluoz, a cross between a novel and a memoir published in 1968, a year before his death, Jack Kerouac wrote about the circle of friends he had met in the spring of 1944, on his return from a stint in the Merchant Marine, describing them as ‘the most evil and intelligent buncha bastards and shits in America’. The group included Allen ...

Boy Gang

Peter Prince, 19 January 1984

Minor Characters 
by Joyce Johnson.
Collins, 262 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 00 272511 8
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Neurotica: The Authentic Voice of the Beat Generation 1948-1951 
edited by Jay Landesman and G. Legman.
Jay Landesman, 535 pp., £19.95, July 1981, 0 905150 26 0
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Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac 
by Gerald Nicosia.
Grove, 767 pp., £14.95, October 1983, 0 394 52270 2
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... Joyce Johnson was Jack Kerouac’s lover during a brief but crucial period in his career. She met him on a blind date fixed up by Allen Ginsberg in January 1957, nine months before the publication of his second novel. Outside a small circle of avant-garde writers and artists and drinking buddies, Kerouac then had few admirers ...

I am Prince Mishkin

Mark Ford, 23 April 1987

‘Howl’: Original Draft Facsimile 
by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Barry Miles.
Viking, 194 pp., £16.95, February 1987, 0 670 81599 3
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White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 89 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81598 5
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... heard Howl – it was new to me. Allen began in a small and intensely lucid voice. At some point Jack Kerouac began shouting ‘GO’ in cadence as Allen read it. In spite of all our memories no one had been so outspoken in poetry before – we had gone beyond a point of no return – and we were ready for it, for a point of no return. Ginsberg himself ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man, 10 May 2007

... with the likes of Paul Auster, Bram Stoker, William Burroughs, David Cronenberg, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, J.G. Ballard and Hunter S. Thompson: in other words, men. He says more than once that he’s less interested in typewriters as machines (once upon a time the word also referred to the people, usually women, who ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation, 7 September 2016

... In​ the Beat constellation, Allen Ginsberg’s star now shines more brightly than the rest. True, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs glowed on in the aftermath of On the Road (1957) and Naked Lunch (1959); Brion Gysin, inventor of the cut-up technique, is still visible on a clear night. But the beautiful Lucien Carr, an Alain Delon lookalike drawn into the Beat circle by a smitten scoutmaster who stalked him across America until Carr pulled out a knife and killed him in New York, no longer emits much light ...

Retro-Selfies

Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti, 17 December 2015

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... Five poets performed. Kenneth Rexroth, the consigliore of radicalism, was master of ceremonies. Jack Kerouac, too self-conscious to read, acted as cheerleader: ‘Go! Go! Go!’ He passed out slopping gallon jugs of Californian Burgundy. There had been poetry readings in the Bay Area before this and the Six Gallery was hardly virgin territory. The ...

Oms and Hums

Julian Symons, 22 March 1990

Ginsberg: A Biography 
by Barry Miles.
Viking, 588 pp., £20, January 1990, 0 670 82683 9
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... beside the fire saying Heigh-ho on a winter afternoon. It was possible then to see Ginsberg, Kerouac and their friends as anarchists articulating and exemplifying a morality that flouted the values of liberal Western society and the rigidities of orthodox Communism in favour of a romantic code that valued above anything else personal friendship and the ...

Adventures at the End of Time

Angela Carter, 7 March 1991

Downriver 
by Iain Sinclair.
Paladin, 407 pp., £14.99, March 1991, 0 586 09074 6
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... influence on this grisly dystopia is surely the grand master of all dystopias, William Burroughs. Jack Kerouac, asked for a quote for the jacket of The Naked Lunch, said it was an endless novel that would drive everybody mad. High praise. Downriver is like that, too. It is mostly about the East End. This reviewer is a South Londoner, herself. When I ...

Resistance Days

Derek Mahon, 25 April 2002

... dedicated drunks still sing in the marketplace, and out the back there’s an old guy who knew Jack Kerouac. Spring in January now, of course: no doubt the daffs and daisies are already out and you lot, in the serene post-Christmas lull, biking the back roads between Hob and Schull. Here at the heure bleue in the Deux Magots where as a student I ...

Knights of the Road

Tom Clark: The Beat generation, 6 July 2000

This is the Beat Generation: New York, San Francisco, Paris 
by James Campbell.
Vintage, 320 pp., £7.99, May 2000, 0 09 928269 0
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... water glass, tin can, apple, apricot, grape), and six possibilities for the kind of paper on which Jack Kerouac typed out the original hundred-foot scroll of On the Road (teletype paper, Japanese drawing paper, oilskin art paper, shelf-paper, canister-paper, tracing paper). He finds strands of Kerouac’s road romance ...

Mad to Be Saved

Thomas Powers: The Kerouac Years, 25 October 2012

The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac 
by Joyce Johnson.
Viking, 489 pp., £25, September 2012, 978 0 670 02510 7
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... Jack Kerouac’s short life, big talent and last dollar were all just about exhausted when the young writer Joyce Glassman bought him a dinner of hot dogs and beans on a Saturday night in New York City in January 1957. Glassman understood he was broke, but the rest she learned only later. She thought Kerouac was beautiful, with his blue eyes and sunburned skin ...

Lonely Metal Souls

Theo Tait: Haruki Murakami, 18 October 2001

Sputnik Sweetheart 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel.
Harvill, 229 pp., £12, May 2001, 9781860468254
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... sweeping across the plains’. When they first meet, Sumire tells Miu about her obsession with Jack Kerouac. Miu says: ‘Kerouac . . . hmm . . . Wasn’t he a Sputnik?’ From then on, Sumire refers to Miu as her ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’.This is typical of the novel’s humour – gentle, possibly ...

Monster Doss House

Iain Sinclair, 24 November 1988

The Grass Arena 
by John Healy.
Faber, 194 pp., £9.95, October 1988, 0 571 15170 1
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... bed, was his dark twin, ‘tension’: a shudder, a shoulder-twitch, a clinging sense of doom that Jack Kerouac called ‘The Shadow’. There was the expectation of disaster that made its arrival ever more certain. The shudder can only be muted in pints, the drinking life, oblivion: clubbing the wolf into silence, inhibiting conditioned reflexes. The ...

Out of the jiffybag

Frank Kermode, 12 November 1987

For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... credit to a coyote’, Lady Mosley, Daphne Rae, Beatrice Webb. After them come the writer nobs: Jack Kerouac, ‘babbling on with the fluency of a jammed beer-tap’, Jean-Paul Sartre, whose ‘demand that intellectuals should “integrate with the masses” seems even more unreal than it would otherwise, coming from a man who could not bear to face an ...

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