Sunday, July 15, 2018

Curation #85 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Jack Kerouac: A Biography by Ann Charters



Item #85 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback St. Martin's Press 1994 edition (no printing number) of Ann Charters' Jack Kerouac A Biography. 416 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8" and is in fair condition. The provenance is that I bought it used from Goodwill of NNE via Amazon on August 25, 2012 for $.08. Yes, you read that correctly. Shipping was $3.99 so I paid a total of $4.07.

First published in 1973, Charters' book is recognized as the earliest comprehensive Kerouac biography. It met with a positive review from the NY Times (click here). This edition includes a foreword by Allen Ginsberg, a preface and an introduction by the author, a set of photos, and 5 appendices (chronology, notes and sources, bibliographical chronology, character identity key, and index).

Since Charters' biography there have been many more. Click here for Dave Moore's flickr set of Kerouac biography cover photos, which includes 27 titles (including Bernice Lemire's Master's Thesis).

Many have pointed out errors in Charters' work, but it still stands as a solid Kerouac biography and it paved the way for much Kerouac scholarship to come. It's a compelling read and deserves a spot on your Kerouac bookshelf.









Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (4th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: another copy of Kerouac: A Biography by Ann Charters.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

The Daily Beat reaches 10 years of Kerouac blogging!


My first post on The Daily Beat was 10 years ago today on July 15, 2008. It was a test post, and I didn't start posting in earnest until September when my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, appeared for sale on Amazon. I started blogging without really knowing what I was getting into, and since that time a lot has happened. For one thing, we have posted 1,453 times, which averages 145 times per year or once every 2.5 days. Not bad for a non-income generating (mostly -- if you don't count book sales spurred by my posts) blog and most of that time I was working full-time (having retired in May 2017). For another, I've interviewed some well-known Beat figures. For example, you can read my interview with Al Hinkle (Big Ed Dunkel from On The Road) here, my interview with Gerald Nicosia here, and my interview with Kerouac paramour Helen Weaver here.

We've done some serial posts over the 10 years. For a time in 2011, we posted about each entry in my book, including a picture of the relevant passage in The Dharma Bums or On The Road (start here and move forward in time). We've also done some recurring posts. For example, a few times we played 6 Degrees of Jack Kerouac (click here for the original).

Which reminds me, if you ever want to search this blog (or any website, for that matter) you only need to type in the address bar the search word and then the word site with a colon and the URL. So if you want to search my blog for instances where I mention the word Richard, it would look like this:

Richard site:https://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/

Regular readers know we are in the midst of curating my Kerouac bookshelf, with entry #85 up next. That's a serial that will run over 160 posts total.

We started a series called Beat Hero, but never got very far, having only completed two: Travis Tribble and John Wight. We ruminated on North Pond Hermit Christopher Knight being Beat Hero #3, but scoring an interview with him would be next to impossible. As always, if you think you are  a Beat Hero or know someone who is, let us know. (Note: Don't be fooled by my use of plural pronouns -- this is a one-person operation. Consider it a nod to a favorite Beat movie: The Big Lebowski and the Dude's explaining his use of the "royal we.")

We occasionally post blog stats. Kristen Stewart topless in On The Road continues to be #1 in pageviews (9,170), with Full text of On The Road plus #2 at 7,156 and How to pronounce "Cannes" #3 with 5,730. #4 is The joys and pitfalls of blogging, coming in at 3,045 pageviews. And #5 is A Kerouac favorite word: fellaheen (the latter is an example of me being schooled by readers).

Traffic here is a mystery to me. Posts usually get a few dozen pageviews in the early stages, but every once in a while a routine post will get hundreds right away (given enough time, many get into the thousands). I assume that high early number comes from others linking to my post. Or maybe it's Russian bots. Who knows? While I appreciate pageviews, that's not what it's about: this blog is a labor of love for Jack Kerouac.

I've spoiled some Kerouac myths on The Daily Beat, opined that Jack Kerouac was murdered, reviewed a number of books, reported on road trips to places like Lowell and San Francisco and Big Sur and France and NYC, posted spontaneous prose, linked to Kerouac news and resources, defended Jack's honor, explored the enigmatic number 23, reminded of important dates, written about requesting Jack's FBI files, held a Beat poetry contest, collected pictures of Kerouac license plates, archived a Beat dictionary, reported on visiting the Memory Babe archive in Lowell, posted pictures of Kerouac tattoos (mine and others'), published a post by a guest author (one more is in the works), reported on my efforts to get the USPS to issue a Jack Kerouac stamp, posted guest poetry, and given away a number of free books.

Which brings me to the end of this ramble. Perhaps you are expecting another book give-away, but if so, you are mistaken. That has not gone well in the past couple of tries (winners don't contact me with address details so I can't send them a book). So how are we going to celebrate our 10-year anniversary?

Simple: by posting a blog entry. And here it is. Feel free to tell us congratulations in a comment. Or support our efforts by purchasing a book -- I don't get rich but it's motivational.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE DAILY BEAT ON 10 YEARS OF KEROUAC BLOGGING!




Saturday, July 14, 2018

Tune in tomorrow for a special anniversary post!

The Daily Beat will hit a big anniversary milestone tomorrow, so tune in for a special post to commemorate the occasion.

Curation #84 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Jack Kerouac: A Biography by Tom Clark


Item #84 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback Thunder's Mouth Press 1990 edition (no printing number) of Tom Clark's Jack Kerouac: A Biography. It's 254 pages, measures about 6" x 9", and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I bought it for $1.09 via Amazon from HPB-Outlet in July 2012 (for once I kept the packing slip with the book).

This book, first published in 1984, includes a Kerouac chronology, an introduction by Carolyn Cassady, a bibliography, an index, and quite a few photos (many are quite grainy).The San Francisco Chronicle said it was "the only book about Kerouac worth reading" (cover blurb). Jacob Lititz, in a review of the book in Western American Literature in 1986, said:
Tom Clark's biography of Kerouac is pure biography. It isn't a thesis about Kerouac's life, his times, or his works. Clark goes directly to his job of giving a short, coherent, vivid picture of the life of Jack Kerouac.
Clark wrote this, of course, with several published biographies to reference, the most prominent being Charters' and McNally's, which he cites. Interestingly, he does not cite Nicosia's, but that may be because of timing (Memory Babe came out the year before).

It may be a function of my failing memory and not Clark's fault, but I read this book one time and so long ago (6 years) that I have no unique memories or opinions about it. I guess given the reviews above I should put it on my bucket list of books to re-read.








Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (3rd from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Kerouac: A Biography by Ann Charters.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Curation #83 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America by Dennis McNally



Item #83 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 2003 Da Capo Press edition of Dennis McNally's Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America. I cannot discern a printing number from this: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10--06   05   04   03. Maybe you can. Let me know. This copy is 404 pages, measures about 6" x 9" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that it was a Christmas present from my son, Jason, and daughter-in-law, Adri.

McNally first published this Kerouac biography in 1979, making it one of the earliest in-depth Kerouac biographies (Ann Charters', to be curated soon, came out in 1973; Gerald Nicosia's, also to be curated in the future, came out in 1983). McNally is the author of a Grateful Dead biography, A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead.

This book met with a fairly positive review from the NY Times. They called it a "nostalgic manifesto," indicating that McNally was not only a biographer but an inheritor of the spirit of his subject. It's been years since I read it but my memory is that it was an engaging read and full of details.

As McNally says in the 2002 Afterword:
But our need to venture out, to look for the heart of the dream, to travel in Whitman's and Jack's and Neal Cassady's footsteps--that need is greater than ever. That is a faith worth cherishing, and that is why Jack, however desolate, was an angel. Twenty-three years after publishing Desolate Angel, I think this book still honors that faith.
The book concludes: "The myths and dreams and the art remain, to disturb or inspire. Above all else, the road endures."

The road endures. Amen.








Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (2nd from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Jack Kerouac: A Biography by Tom Clark.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Curation #82 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Voice is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac by Joyce Johnson



Item #82 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 2012 Viking 3rd printing of Joyce Johnson's The Voice is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac. 489 pages (60 pages comprise the notes and index), it measures about 6-1/4" x 9-1/4" and is in very good condition. The provenance is uncertain but I probably bought it from Amazon or received it as a gift.

As the title suggests, this book is an exploration of how Jack Kerouac found his writer's voice amidst the conflict of being "caught between two cultures and two languages" (inside cover flap). It is a well-written book, which is no surprise given Joyce Johnson's credentials. She won the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award for her Kerouac memoir, Minor Characters, to be curated later. Johnson was Kerouac's girlfriend at the time On The Road was published in 1957 (something she talks about in Minor Characters but not so much here as this story ends in 1951). She published a book of letters to and from Kerouac titled, Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, 1957-1958 (also to be curated later).

Johnson based this biography in large part on her access to the Berg Collection's Kerouac archive at the New York Public Library (which you can read about here), access to which I understand is tightly controlled by the Kerouac estate.

You can read the NY Times' mixed review of Johnson's book here. And here is the Boston Globe's review, which nitpicks over Johnson's use of the term "joual" to refer to the type of French Jack spoke.

I liked this book. A lot. It was in-depth and engaging, and while I get the NY Times' quibble about not using actual passages from Kerouac's work, I don't think that omission interfered with the big picture Johnson paints here on how Jack developed his writing voice. Opinion, as always, vary. This Kirkus Review called the book a "triumph of scholarship."

I think this is an important contribution to the genre of Kerouac biographies and you'll want it on your Kerouac bookshelf.






Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (1st on the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America by Dennis McNally.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Curation #81 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Departed Angels: The Lost Paintings by Jack Kerouac, text by Ed Adler



Item #81 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this 2004 copyright Thunder's Mouth Press first printing of Departed Angels: The Lost Paintings by Jack Kerouac with text by Ed Adler. Weirdly, the copyright page is at the end of the book. 285 pages, it measures about 8-1/2" square and is in good condition. The provenance is that it was a gift from Crystal for Christmas 2016 (purchased from Friends of Duncan Library 2 on Amazon Marketplace).

If you didn't already know that Jack Kerouac the writer was also a visual artist, this book provides evidence of same. As the back cover indicates:
Jack Kerouac took himself seriously as a visual artist and on a number of occasions told friends he would have been a painter if he weren't a writer. His enthusiasm for art was omnivorous, he drew, he painted, he designed covers for his books, and as he sketched with words, so he sketched with images: organized and deliberate but spontaneous, and supported by typically Kerouac, methodically detailed theory.

This book includes 129 pages of Jack's notebook pages, sketches, and paintings as well as relevant pictures of Jack and others. The next half of the book is text, with a a preface by Douglas Brinkley, foreword by the late John Sampas, and then 17 chapters of informative exposition by Ed Adler.

Adler sums it all up nicely at the end, quoting Kerouac from Big Sur: "The world is too old for us to talk about with our new words."

Recommended. 








Below is a picture of Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (sideways on top of the row) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Voice is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac by Joyce Johnson (beginning Shelf #3).

Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf