Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Curation #99 from my Kerouac bookshelf: William Carlos Williams by Thomas R. Whitaker (Twayne's U.S. Authors Series #143)



Item #99 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 1968 Twayne Publishers, Inc. (no printing number) edition of William Carlos Williams by Thomas R. Whitaker (Twayne's U.S. Author Series #143). 183 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8" and is in good condition. The dustjacket is missing. The provenance is that I bought it from Augusta, Maine's Lithgow Public Library at a "dollar-a-bag" book sale a couple of years ago.

This, like yesterday's curation, is a book I bought to read "some day." "Some day" hasn't arrived yet, but this is definitely a Kerouac-related read because Williams is mentioned by Jack in The Dharma Bums (as Doctor Musial):
"I guess the only real poets in the country, outside the orbit of this little backyard, are Doctor Musial, who's prob­ably muttering behind his living-room curtains right now, and Dee Sampson, who's too rich. That leaves us dear old Japhy here who's going away to Japan, and our wailing friend Goldbook and our Mr. Coughlin, who has a sharp tongue."
FYI, Dee Sampson represents Jay Loughlin, Japhy is Gary Snyder, Goldbook is Allen Ginsberg, and Coughlin is Philip Whalen (poets all).

The Beats respected Williams. According to Gerald Nicosia, Kerouac went with Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, and Gregory Corso to meet Williams in Rutherford, NJ in 1957.
The weary seventy-three-year-old doctor praised their writings, and when asked to impart some wisdom, pointed out the window with a smile and said, "There's a lot of bastards out there." (Memory Babe, p. 541)

As with my other Twayne book (on Denise Levertov), this is not a biography; instead, it is an in-depth analysis of Williams' work. As such, it can be pretty dry going. But it's on my Kerouac bookshelf and I still want to read it "some day."







Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (19th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg by Carolyn Cassady.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Monday, July 30, 2018

Curation #98 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Denise Levertov by Linda W. Wagner (Twayne's U.S. Authors Series #113)



Item #98 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 1967 Twayne Publishers, Inc. copy of Denise Levertov by Linda W. Wagner (Twayne's U.S. Authors Series #113). 159 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I bought it from Augusta, Maine's Lithgow Public Library at a "dollar-a-bag" book sale a couple of years ago.

This is one of those books that I bought with the intention to read it "some day." That day hasn't arrived yet, but it's on my bucket list to learn more about Denise Levertov. Levertov was born in England in 1923 (the year after Jack Kerouac) and moved to America in 1948 a year after she married American writer Mitchell Goodman (compiler of The Movement Toward a New America, which I highly recommend). Levertov was an accomplished poet, publishing over twenty volumes of poetry and appearing frequently in well-known poetry journals of her time. She was mentioned in Kerouac's Desolation Angels as Alice Nabokov.

Levertov was a contemporary of the Beats but was more associated with the Black Mountain poets, although she disclaimed membership in any particular poetic school. Click here to read a bio and some of her poems. She became an outspoken advocate for social justice and her later poetry showed socio-political themes (e.g., anti-Vietnam War).

I don't know if this belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf, but it's on mine. One caution: this book is mostly an analysis of her poetry and not a biography.









Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (18th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: William Carlos Williams by Thomas R. Whitaker (Twayne's U.S. Authors Series #143).

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Curation #97 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Nobody's Wife: The Smart Aleck and The King of the Beats by Joan Haverty Kerouac



Item #97 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 2000 Creative Arts Books Company (no printing number) edition of Joan Haverty Kerouac's Nobody's Wife: The Smart Aleck and The King of the Beats. 216 pages, it measures about 6" x 9" and is in good condition. The provenance is likely that I got it used from Amazon. A stamp on the title page says, "NO LONGER the property of Whitaker Library." The only Whitaker Library I see in a Google search is at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, NC.

Joan Haverty Kerouac was Jack's wife and the mother of his only child, Jan. So Joan knows some things about Jack that no one else can. The book starts with a 4-page introduction by Jan. Admittedly, I don't remember if I read this book or not. That is in part because of my lapsing memory, but also because once you've read a million or so books about Kerouac, they start to become rather indistinguishable. To me, at least.

I didn't find a NY Times review of the book, and the others I found were not from very legit sources. From the ones I did read, it seems that Joan pulls no punches in this memoir. Scanning the book, one finds pretty straightforward details of conversations and interactions with not only Jack, but his mother, Gabrielle, and other notable characters (e.g., Neal Cassady, Lucien Carr, Caroline "Nin" Kerouac).

I guess this goes on my "to-read" list (or maybe it's my "to-read-again" list). Either way, by virtue of the author's credentials alone, this belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf.








Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (17th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Denise Levertov by Linda W. Wagner (Twayne's U.S. Authors Series).

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Curation #96 from my Kerouac bookshelf: White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg by Peter Conners



Item #96 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 2010 City Lights Books (no printing number) edition of White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg by Peter Connors. 308 pages, it measures about 5-3/8" x 7-7/8" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that it was a review copy sent to me by City Lights.

This City Lights publication tells the inside story of how Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary launched the psychedelic revolution together. I searched in vain for whether I reviewed this in the past on The Daily Beat, and, if I didn't, my apologies to City Lights. Now that I'm retired, that won't happen again with review copies of books. I honestly can't remember if I read this book, but I see in thumbing through it that it includes the transcript of the "Houseboat Summit," a meeting on Alan Watts' houseboat between Watts, Ginsberg, Leary, and Gary Snyder that was published in #7 of the San Francisco Oracle. That alone likely makes this a worthwhile addition to your Beat Generation or 1960s book collection.

But, does it belong on your Kerouac bookshelf? I can't say. It depends on how you define the parameters of said bookshelf. It's on mine because I received a review copy. Would I have purchased it? If I knew in advance about the Watts et al. piece -- probably. I own so many Watts books I almost need a Watts bookshelf.

Below is the back cover blurb:
In 1960 Timothy Leary was not yet famous -- or infamous -- and Allen Ginsberg was both. Leary, eager to expand his experiments at the Harvard Psilocybin Project, knew that Ginsberg held the key to bohemia's elite. Ginsberg, fresh from his first experience with hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico, was eager to promote the spiritual possibilities of psychedelic use. Thus, America's most conspicuous beatnik was recruited as Ambassador of Psilocybin under the auspices of an Ivy League professor, and together they launched the psychedelic revolution and turned on the hippie generation.

Actor and founder of the Diggers, Peter Coyote, who ran in such circles at the time and knew both men well, gave White Hand Society a very positive review.

The question remains: What does the term, "White Hand Society," mean? You'll have to read the book to find out....







Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (16th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Nobody's Wife: The Smart Aleck and The King of the Beats by Joan Haverty Kerouac.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Friday, July 27, 2018

Curation #95 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac: Visions of Rocky Mount by John J Dorfner



Item #95 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 1991 Cooper Street Publications (no printing number) copy of John J Dorfner's Kerouac: Visions of Rocky Mount. 65 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I got it directly from the author, who signed the title page.

This book features pictures of and text about Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where Jack Kerouac occasionally lived and wrote in the 1950s. I reviewed this book on February 3, 2012; click here to read that review in which I said:
If you've ever wanted to see actual images of some of the places around Rocky Mount that Jack wrote about, this is an essential edition to your Kerouac collection. That it's a fun and informative read is icing on the cake.

Like the author's other Kerouac book, Kerouac: Visions of Lowell, this belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf. If you want your own copy of Kerouac: Visions of Lowell, either e-mail John at johnjdorfner@gmail.com or visit his website at http://writerjjd.com/.



Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (15th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg by Peter Conners.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Curation #94 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac: Visions of Lowell by John J Dorfner



Item #94 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 1993 Cooper Street Publications (no printing number) copy of John J Dorfner's Kerouac: Visions of Lowell. 60 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I got it directly from the author, who signed the title page.

This is a book with pictures of and text about Jack Kerouac's hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts. Author John J. Dorfner lovingly compiled this collection, which includes a foreword by Allen Ginsberg.

I reviewed this book on January 28, 2012; click here to read that review in which I said:
Anyone interested in Jack Kerouac, or in the history of Lowell (the old pictures are fabulous, especially if you know Lowell today and can compare), will likely find this little book to be a treasure chest.

I don't really have anything to add to that previous review other than to say that this little gem belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf. If you want your own copy of Kerouac: Visions of Lowell, either e-mail John at johnjdorfner@gmail.com or visit his website at http://writerjjd.com/.



Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (14th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Kerouac: Visions of Rocky Mount by John J Dorfner.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Daily Beat is open to reviewing Kerouac- and Beat Generation-related books

If you are a publisher or author and have a Kerouac- or Beat Generation-related book you'd like to see reviewed here on The Daily Beat, I'd be glad to review a complimentary copy. You can contact me at thebeathandbook@gmail.com with details and I will send you my snail mail address.

I've reviewed many books here over the years, including Lew Welch's Ring of Bone, Helen Weaver's The Awakener, and Diane di Prima's The Poetry Deal.

Thanks for your consideration.


Curation #93 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac by Ellis Amburn (with an exclusive review by Gerald Nicosia)


Curation item #93 from my Kerouac bookshelf is this paperback 1999 St. Martin's Griffin first edition first printing of Ellis Amburn's Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac. 435 pages, it measures about 6" x 9" and is in very good condition. The provenance is likely that I acquired it via Amazon. Again, Mr. Bezos, you are welcome.

Amburn's biography is, at the very least, controversial. As far as reviews go, it got panned by the NY Times: "a reductive emphasis on dysfunction that not only overshadows the subject's achievements but makes them virtually inconceivable" (click here). Ann Charters was critical of it: "Amburn is just the kind of reader Kerouac feared, someone who would use 'queerness' to discredit him" (click here; click here for the referenced Herb Gold positive review; click here for the referenced Joyce Johnson negative review).

Serendipitously, Kerouac biographer (Memory Babe) Gerald Nicosia just finished reading Subterranean Kerouac and agreed to write his own review of the biography exclusively for The Daily Beat (click here).

As Nicosia concludes:


Amburn does give a lot of useful insights into the publishing world of the Fifties and Sixties, which was his terrain, and helps us to understand why Kerouac was so often at loggerheads with that world.

But to expect any new or valuable insight into Kerouac the man, from Amburn's book, would be as mistaken as to look for such in the myriad critics who misunderstood Kerouac in his own lifetime.



Amburn was Kerouac's last editor (Desolation Angels and Vanity of Duluoz), so he knows some things. Consequently, one must read Amburn with a critical eye for what may be, in fact, fact, and what may be just spin to fit Amburn's narrative about Jack's homosexuality.

It's certainly an ambitious book, and can therefore at times be tedious. If you're only going to read one or two Kerouac biographies, this shouldn't be one of them. If you're a Kerouac fanatic or scholar, it's worth reading.








Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (13th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Kerouac: Visions of Lowell by John J Dorfner.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Curation #92 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 edited by Douglas Brinkley



Curation #92 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 2004 Viking first printing of Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 edited by Douglas Brinkley. 387 pages, it measures about 6" x 9" and is in fair condition (except for all the annotations I have made I would rate it as good condition, although Abe Books doesn't account for such in its guide). The provenance is uncertain, but I suspect that I acquired it via Amazon.

Brinkley is an award-winning author and, at one time, was slated to write the "official" Kerouac biography. For one reason or another or several, that didn't happen or hasn't happened yet (he missed a deadline, there was legal action, Katrina was a more important story to write, etc.). Search the Jack Kerouac Facebook group if you want to read some opinions on why.

In any case, Brinkley did finish editing this set of Jack's journals written between 1947-1954, a juicy period for Kerouac. Brinkley provides an introduction, a cast of characters, and then two sections of Jack's verbatim journals, one relevant to his work on The Town and the City and the other relevant to On The Road. The book includes several pictures of Jack's actual journal pages along with Brinkley's annotations giving context and explanations via introductory comments and footnotes. I am not privy to the 10 notebooks Brinkley transcribed, so it is impossible for me to weigh in on his editorial choices (which he said were minimal). There is a helpful index.

This is great stuff, full of Jack's heart and style. I had to underline hundreds of phrases such as "that's the greatest writing, the unconscious," and "it's worry that must be eliminated for the sake of individual force," and "sometimes my effort at writing becomes so fluid and smooth that too much is torn out of me at once, and it hurts," and "in the end, I am my own greatest reader," and "this continual jockeying for position is the enemy of life in itself," and "all mad people are only being coy." And there are many others. I especially liked this one:
From now on --
            --less notes on the subject of writing--
--and of myself --
            --and more writing.
Most of  you already know that while Jack was churning out 1,000s of words a day in his novels (and poetry), he was also churning out letters to friends and journal entries such as the ones in Windblown World. For a sampling of Jack's journals, click here.

Kerouac was a writer, so he wrote -- constantly. He was driven to write and to become known as a great writer. This book is evidence of the same. As Brinkley states on p. xiv:
Read as a whole, Windblown World offers riveting proof of Kerouac's deep desire to become a great and enduring American novelist.

Amen.


P.S. There are many more journals to publish and hopefully that will happen -- soon, please.








Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (12th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac by Ellis Amburn.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Monday, July 23, 2018

Curation #91 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Jack Kerouac: An Introduction by Brad Parker



Item #91 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 1990 copy of Brad Parker's Jack Kerouac: An Introduction. 112 pages, it measures about 5" x 8" and is in good condition. Its provenance is lost in memory.

This Kerouac biography by Lowell native Brad Parker was published by The Lowell Corporation for the Humanities, Inc. and was first printed for the twentieth anniversary of Kerouac's death in October 1989. It includes an introduction by Parker followed by 6 chapters:

Chapter I:     The Gerard Legacy (1922-1926)
Chapter II:    Sax, Sex, and Lowell (1932-1939)
Chapter III:   A Crucial Decade (1939-1949)
Chapter IV:   The Road and the Success (1947-1959)
Chapter V:     Big Sur and Beyond (1960-1969)
Chapter VI:   Wild Man?--Wild Prose? (

These are followed by 4 appendices: a selective chronology, prose samples, endnotes, and a guide (with map) to Kerouac sites in Lowell (including how to find Jack's grave). In addition to the text there are several pictures and also 5 fantastic illustrations by Allen Mudgett.

Brad is a friend of mine, so anything I say about his book is inherently biased. I will go out on a limb and say that if you are looking for a readable, concise biography of Jack Kerouac it would be hard to find a better choice. Copies are still available from Amazon (see link below) and Brad is active in the Jack Kerouac Facebook group so you could contact him directly there if you want a signed copy (I don't know if he has any left).

Here is Brad's concluding paragraph, one with whose sentiments I heartily agree.
There is a bonding between Kerouac and many of his readers that, eluding exact explanation, can be called love. They sense, within the pages of his novels, someone who they believe understands both them and their attempts to truly live. The "vast exploration of subjectivity" which was Kerouac's true province touches upon their own inner worlds, and they believe that Jack cares about them. In return, they give back the same.

Reminder to self: Get Brad to sign this copy next time you see him.








Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (11th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 edited by Douglas Brinkley.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Curation #90 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats by Barry Miles



Item #90 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 2010 Virgin Books first printing of Barry Miles' Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats. 396 pages, it measures about 5" x 7-5/8" and is in very good condition except for some underlining and annotations in ink. The provenance is uncertain, but I suspect I bought it via Amazon. You're welcome, Mr. Bezos.

This Kerouac biography was first published in 1998. Miles has written or edited a number of books about the Beats and that time period (including Charles Bukowski and Frank Zappa). You can read Chapter 1 here, and a NY Times review of the book here. Reviewer Douglas is pretty critical of the book, and I don't have a lot of disagreements with her points. For example, "Indeed, it is hard to see what motive Miles may have had for this undertaking, beyond cashing in on the Kerouac revival now under way."

As with all biographies, there are mistakes and omissions. One aspect of the book that bothers me is the citations. There are numbered notes by chapter in the back, but no numbering within the chapters. One is left to guess the source, if any, of information. For example, on p. 91, amidst a Freudian analysis of Jack's psyche that Miles is doubtfully qualified to make, the author claims that Jack's mother proposed sex with him when he was in his thirties. I would like to know the source of that claim, but it is impossible to tell from Miles' strange reference scheme.

For a sense of the book, here are the sections:

Preface

1 Lowell

2 Columbia University
3 The Beat Generation
4 The 115th Street Commune
5 Notes from Underground
6 On the Road
7 Visions of Neal
8 Mexico City
9 All Life is Sorrowful
10 The King of the Beatniks
11 Madman, Bum and Angel
12 Good Ol' Boy

Postscript
Acknowledgements
Notes
Bibliography
Index


That Miles chose to title a chapter "The King of the Beatniks" defies understanding the pejorative nature of that term, despite his chronicling of the Herb Caen origin. In that same chapter, he calls artist Franz Kline "Frank Kline." Later on, during a harangue of Jack for not being a good father to Jan, Miles calls her book Trainsongs (it is Trainsong). Editing needed.

So it's not a perfect biography, but it's readable and I see that I underlined quite a few sentences, meaning I had some kind of reaction to them (maybe it was new information to me, maybe I disagreed with the information, maybe I wondered about the source, maybe it validated something for me, etc.). I wouldn't steer you clear of it, but it's not my top recommendation for a Kerouac biography.






Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (10th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Jack Kerouac: An Introduction by Brad Parker.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

No Lowell for me this year

I'm sad to report that I will not be able to make it to Lowell Celebrates Kerouac this October, making two years in a row I haven't attended. Last year we had spent September in Europe and just didn't have another trip in us so close to when we returned from Italy. This year we are attending the Huck Finn Bluegrass Jubilee in Ontario, CA, the same weekend as LCK.

So, since I haven't yet figured out how to be in two places at the same time, while you Kerouacians are whooping it up in Lowell, I will be hanging out with my family and listening to some great bluegrass music in sunny southern California.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Curation #89 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Gerard: The Influence of Jack Kerouac's Brother on His Life and Writing by Donald Motier



Item #89 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 2010 PublishAmerica edition (no printing number) of Donald Motier's Gerard: The Influence of Jack Kerouac's Brother on His Life and Writing. 65 pages, this book measures about 5-7/8" x 8-7/8" and is in good condition. It would likely be in better condition except that I loaned it to a student in my Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington who was doing a paper on Gerard and he dragged it around with him for quite some time. There's a dangling participle in that last sentence and I'll be damned if I'm going to fix it. The provenance of this copy is likely that I purchased it via Amazon. You're welcome, Mr. Bezos.

This book was first published in 1991 by Beaulieu Street Press. I reviewed the Hell out of it back in March 2016; you can read that by clicking here. I don't really have anything to add to that other than I've never met Mr. Motier but I consider him a kindred spirit, both of us having written and published a book in the Kerouac genre. Mine is available by clicking the link over on the right. Mr. Motier's is available below. We self-published authors have to stick together!

As we've opined before, to understand Jack Kerouac one must understand the influence of his older brother, Gerard. This book plays a role in understanding that dynamic.






Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (9th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats by Barry Miles.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Curation #88 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, 1957-1958 by Jack Kerouac and Joyce Johnson



Item #88 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 2000 Viking first edition first printing of Joyce Johnson's Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, 1957-1958. 182 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" and is in very good condition. The provenance is uncertain but it was likely an Amazon purchase. Sorry for the glare in the picture above.

This is a collection of letters between Jack Kerouac and his then girlfriend Joyce Glassman (now  Johnson). Jack's words are all in the letters, but Johnson supplements her letters with an introduction and helpful explanatory matter throughout. There is an index.

These letters cover the time immediately before, during, and after the publication of On The Road, making this a significant contribution to Kerouac scholarship and offering firsthand insights into his life and thought process at the time. It likewise offers insights into Johnson's life and thought process; she is an often unheralded but important writer and figure in the Beat story (as are many other woman in that circle). You can read Part I here as well as access a link to the NY Times review of the book.

Highly recommended for your Kerouac bookshelf.







Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (8th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Gerard: The Influence of Jack Kerouac's Brother on His Life and Writing by Donald Motier.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Curation #87 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Understanding Jack Kerouac's ON THE ROAD by Edward Renehan



Item #87 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this 2012 New Street Communications edition (no printing number) of Edward Renehan's Understanding Jack Kerouac's ON THE ROAD. 63 pages, it measures about 6" x 9" and is in very good condition. The provenance is likely that I bought it via Amazon.

I purchased this book when I was teaching On The Road in my first year seminar at the University of Maine at Farmington, thinking I would get some new insights to share with students. There are points with which I strongly agree. For example, regarding On The Road:
Notably, just about every review, whether positive or negative, failed to acknowledge Kerouac's vision of the work as the narrative of a journey toward spiritual enlightenment: a holy pilgrimage by flawed mortals seeking some semblance of Truth. (p. 51)
On The Road is a spiritual book, yet many miss that. This is something I learned from Gerry Nicosia, and that has been reinforced since by others including Renehan.

There are other points in the book that were new to me. For example, Oswald Spengler's notion of "second religiousness." I may have read about that somewhere else, but it stuck out to me in Renehan's treatise (perhaps because it is a chapter title). To wit, the book includes the following chapters/sections:

Preface
Beats
Revelation
Second Religousness
Stigmata
Purgatory
Bibliography


This book could use some serious editing, but a theme (spirituality) does come through and Kerouac fans would likely enjoy this quick read.








Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (7th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affir in Letters, 1957-1958 by Jack Kerouac and Joyce Johnson.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Curation #86 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Portable Jack Kerouac edited by Ann Charters



Item #86 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 1996 Penguin Books 1st printing of The Portable Jack Kerouac edited by Ann Charters. 621 pages, it measures about 5" x 7-5/8" and is in good condition. The provenance is that I bought it from a used bookstore (the name escapes me) in Belgrade Lakes, Maine.

As the back cover indicates,
This one volume omnibus, planned by the author before his death [Jack was inspired when he saw The Portable Steinbeck] and now completed by his biographer, Ann Charters, makes clear the ambition and accomplishment of Jack Kerouac's "Legend of Duluoz"--the story of his life told in the course of his many "true-story novels," including On the Road.
This collection includes selected prose from his books (Duluoz Legend and beyond), poetry, essays, and letters. It really can serve its titular purpose -- to be the one Kerouac book that comprises a thoughtful, representative sampling of his works. That, in fact, is why I bought it; unfortunately, I haven't used it that way. It strikes me now that it might be just the book to leave at camp for when I'm jonesing for some Kerouac. I had a copy of On The Road out there last year but it didn't always fit my mood.

There is a preface and an introduction, a chronology of Jack's life, Jack's own introduction (from Lonesome Traveler), an editor's introduction including a letter from Jack to John Clellon Holmes musing about such a book, a character identity key, and a Kerouac bibliography. Many of the selections are introduced with a brief editor's note.

If the purpose of this book is to, as Jack described it, capture the "'essence'" of his prose and poetry "'in one binder to carry around and read at leisure'" (p. 4), this book fits the bill. It deserves a spot on your Kerouac bookshelf, or, better yet, in your canvas rucksack.

There are over 100 books in the portable library series (purchased from Viking Press by Penguin Books in 1975). You can see a list here.










Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (6th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Understanding Kerouac's ON THE ROAD by Edward Renehan.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Monday, July 16, 2018

Curation #86 from my Kerouac bookshelf: A second copy of Ann Charters' Jack Kerouac: A Biography




Item #86 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback Warner Paperback Library edition of Ann Charter's Kerouac: A Biography. The only copyright date shown is 1974 and there is no printing number. 416 pages and measuring about  4" x 7", this copy is in rough shape: the pages are yellowed and, as evidenced by the above photo, the binding is broken completely, separating the book into two pieces around page 193. The provenance is that I bought it from a used bookstore in Portland, Maine. I already had the copy curated yesterday, but I liked the cover (illustration by Jim Sharpe, design by Gene Light).

Since I curated this book yesterday, there is no need to opine more about Charters' seminal Kerouac biography. It's the same book minus the updated preface from Charters in the newer edition. I got to see Ann Charters for the first (and only, so far) time in NYC in 2016 when Richard and I attended the Beat and Beyond event at the Howl! Happening arts center. Click here to read the stupid thing I said to Ann when I met her.








Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (5th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Portable Jack Kerouac edited by Ann Charters.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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

Monday, July 9, 2018

Curation #80 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Beats Abroad: A Global Guide to the Beat Generation by Bill Morgan



Item #80 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 2015 City Lights Books (no printing number) copy of Bill Morgan's The Beats Abroad: A Global Guide to the Beat Generation. It's 298 pages, 4-3/8" x 8-3/8", and in very good condition. The provenance is Amazon.

As with the other three Bill Morgan tour guides we've curated (one for NYC, one for the U.S., and one for San Francisco), this book is chock full of detailed information on the Beats relevant to places -- in this case, around the world -- they lived and played and wrote. It's divided into 9 sections from France and Mediterranean Europe to Latin America and the Caribbean. Although not set up as a walking tour, there's enough information in some instances to find exact sites. In others instances, only a city is identified with no street address details.

There is a brief introduction, a bibliography, and a helpful index. I bought this book in advance of going to Europe last September but ended up not taking it with me for the sake of weight (we were trying to fly with just carry-ons), but I did use it in advance to confirm the location of a couple of spots we visited in Paris (The Beat Hotel and Shakespeare and Company). After the fact, I learned from the book that a great place we saw some wonderful jazz -- the Caveau de la Huchette in Paris -- was frequented by Allen Ginsberg, who went there with Alan Ansen looking to pick up men.

Like Morgan's other guides, this is a handy reference to have on hand while traveling as well as an enjoyable read at home. Highly 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: Departed Angels: The Lost Paintings by Jack Kerouac, text by Ed Adler.

Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Curation #79 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac & Friends: A Beat Generation Album by Fred W. McDarrah



Item #79 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 1985 William Morrow and Company first edition first printing of Fred W. McDarrah's Kerouac & Friends: A Beat Generation Album. 338 pages and about 6-1/4" x 9-1/2", this copy is in very good condition. I don't recall the provenance.

This book comprises 29 written pieces by Beat Generation writers, critics, journalists, and historians along with many pictures (more than 190) from the era (McDarrah was the picture editor for The Village Voice for many years and hung out with the Beats). As McDarrah says in the preface:
Kerouac and Friends is more than a collection of photos and articles from the 1950s; it's a living memoir of the wonderful carefree days when I had nothing to do except go to poetry readings, the Artist's Club, the Living Theatre,, and the Cedar Street Tavern. I stayed out all night with friends and with Gloria. This book is about me and Gloria and a specific time in our lives in New York's Greenwich Village.
The book also contains a section of biographical section, a bibliography, and an index. I must admit that I have not read this book straight through. It's more of the kind of book you pick up from time to time and read an article or two and enjoy the pictures. There's a lot here to digest, including a picture of Allen Ginsberg's kitchen sink from his flat at 170 East 2nd Street. So you can't say it includes "everything but the kitchen sink."

If you've never seen this book, I suspect there are a few pictures in it you haven't seen before -- making it a worthwhile addition to your Kerouac bookshelf.








Below is a picture of Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (29th item from the left -- last book on the right) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Beats Abroad: A Global Guide to the Beat Generation by Bill Morgan.

Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf