Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Curation #64 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Mexico City Blues by Jack Kerouac

Item #64 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 1990 Grove Press 8th printing of Jack Kerouac's Mexico City Blues. It's 244 pages, about 5-1/4" x 8-1/8", and in fair condition (bent page corners, creased cover). The provenance is uncertain, but it's probably a used Amazon purchase.

Jack began writing Mexico City Blues in 1955 while living in Mexico City. It was first published in 1959, although individual poems appeared in poetry journals before that. Consisting of 242 choruses -- poems limited to the size of his notebook pages where he wrote them -- Mexico City Blues is considered by some to contain some of Kerouac's best poems. Nevertheless, it met with a poor review in the NY Times (click here), although one must consider the fact that the review was written by Kenneth Rexroth, who was no fan of Jack's.

In the intro to his San Francisco Blues, which we previously curated here, Jack says:
San Francisco Blues was my first book of poems, written back in 1954 & hinting the approach of the final blues poetry form I developed for the Mexico City Blues.
Here is Jack's note from the beginning of Mexico City Blues:
     I want to be considered a jazz poet
     blowing a long blues in an afternoon jam
     session in Sunday. I take 242 choruses;
     my ideas vary and sometimes roll from
     chorus to chorus or from halfway through
     a chorus to halfway into the next.

I haven't read it, but I'm told that for a critical look at Mexico City Blues you can't go wrong with James T. Jones' book, A Map of Mexico City Blues: Jack Kerouac as Poet. Put it on the list you are keeping of potential birthday and Christmas presents for me.

We've opined in previous curations and other posts about Jack's talent as a poet and not just a prose writer; Mexico City Blues is more evidence of that talent.

Below is a picture of Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (14th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: You're A Genius All The Time by Jack Kerouac.

Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf

No comments: