Friday, June 29, 2018

Curation #73 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac's City by Bill Morgan

Item #73 in my Kerouac bookshelf creation project is this paperback 1997 City Lights Books 2nd printing of Bill Morgan's The Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac's City. 166+ pages, it measures about 4-1/2" x 8-1/2" and is in good condition. The provenance is likely that I purchased it via Amazon.

This is only one of several books by Morgan that provide geographically based information on the Beats, and we will be curating 3 others in this project. These guides are indispensable for the Kerouac or Beat fan and I cannot commend them highly enough. The Beat Generation in New York is one that I have used in situ, so to speak, and you can read about my adventure in NYC using this book in September 2015 with Richard Marsh here.

Morgan divides NYC into 9 tours. He says 8 in his intro, but I count 9 as follows:

Columbia University
Times Square
Rockefeller Center, Midtown
Greenwich Village, Tour 1
Greenwich Village, Tour 2
East Village, Tour 1
East Village, Tour 2
Far-flung Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Yonkers

We attempted to follow Greenwich Village, Tour 1. I say attempted because, as it turned out, because we were chatting and taking pictures we took more time than Morgan estimated and only accomplished the first 14 of 30 stops. Regardless, it was a fantastic and accurate resource to have with us and I urge you to visit the link above to see current (2015) pictures of 14 of Morgan's entries, including a rare picture we took of Allen Ginsberg's apartment where the cover picture of this book was taken (it involved running into a building maintenance man who took us through the basement to the back of the building you cannot see from the street). We did use information from other tours, just not as methodically (e.g., we were able to find the former Lion's Den fireplace where Kerouac sat and ate steaks and ice cream sundaes while on the Columbia football injured roster (bottom of John Jay Hall).

Even though the city has changed since Beat times, Morgan provides sufficient walking directions and addresses to help identify such obscure sites as, for example, Lucien Carr's apartment (92 Grove Street). Still existing sites are, of course, easiest to find (e.g., White Horse Tavern where Jack hung out -- 567 Hudson).

Each entry in Morgan's book has details about why it's included, and the information is interesting enough to make this a book you can sit and read without even using it as a tour guide. The book includes pictures, maps, a Who's Who, a bibliography, an index, and introductions by Hettie Jones as well as Morgan.

I can't recommend this book highly enough as a resource for learning about Kerouac and the Beats in NYC. You need it on your Kerouac bookshelf regardless of whether you ever get to New York to use it, albeit using it as a hands-on tour guide really brings Kerouac's time in New York to life right before your eyes. And as a Kerouac fan, you know how important New York was in the genesis and nurturing of the Beat Generation!

Below is a picture of Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (23rd item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation in America by Bill Morgan.

Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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