Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Curation #37 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Pic by Jack Kerouac

Item #37 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this copy of Pic by Jack Kerouac. This is a Grove Press publication; the copyright page shows one date, 1971, and indicates that it is a "First Printing." Other than yellowing, it is in good shape. Size is approximately 4" x 7" and 120 pages. I am unsure of its provenance.

Pic was published in 1971 and, as the cover indicates, it was Kerouac's last published novel (although I suspect it is more a novella) -- at the time. There have been at least two published since: And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks and The Sea is My Brother. Pic is set in 1948 and tells the story of ten-year-old Pictorial Review Jackson from his first-person point-of-view. The back cover of the book indicates that it is written "in the black dialect indigenous to the North Carolina farm country," but many have criticized Kerouac's attempt at black dialect as stereotypical at best. Kerouac wrote pic around 1950 while he was also working on and thinking about On The Road.

I won't get into the plot, other than to say that it involves Pic's experiences as he travels around the country (North Carolina, New York City, California) after the grandfather he lived with dies. As he often does, Kerouac reuses some previously published content: for example, Chapter 13 is titled "THE GHOST OF THE SUSQUEHANNA" and is a modified re-tread of the old man Kerouac encounters near Harrisburg, PA, in On The Road.

Pic has its critics, but one fan is Brian Hassett, who opined about the novel here. I wouldn't steer you away from it, but unless you're a true Kerouacophile, I wouldn't seek it out ahead of Jack's other novels.

Below is a picture of Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (18th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Book of Blues by Jack Kerouac.

Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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