Saturday, June 9, 2018

Curation #61 from my Kerouac bookshelf: And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs

Item #61 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback Grove Press 2008 (no printing number) edition of And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. It's in good shape, 214 pages, about 5-3/8" x 8", and the provenance is that it was a gift from my friend, Adrianne, in April 2011. I know this from the inscription: "Found this, thought of you. Then I smiled. Be well, my friend. Adrianne 4/11". This version includes a lengthy afterword by James Grauerholz, Burroughs' literary executor.

This book was written in 1945, long before either author became famous (and it shows in the writing). The title supposedly comes from a radio broadcast Burroughs heard about a fire at a circus, although there are conflicting claims as to which circus and when (if it happened at all). Hippos consists of chapters that alternate from one author to the other, each using a pseudonym (as Kerouac was wont to do). The novel centers around the famous murder of David Kammerer by inner circle Beat, Lucien Carr, in 1944. Kerouac fans well know this story, but so do non-fans: it was made into the tepid 2013 movie, Kill Your Darlings. If you don't know the story, a little Googling will reveal more than you care to know.

Hippos got an okay review from the NY Times (click here).

I read this novel when I first got it and didn't find it that compelling a read. It's an important piece of the Beat canon, though, and it deserves a spot on your Kerouac or Beat bookshelf.

Below is a picture of Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (11th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Haunted Life and Other Writings by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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