Friday, September 21, 2018

Curation #145 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Typewriter is Holy: The Complete Uncensored History of the Beat Generation by Bill Morgan




Item #145 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 2010 Free Press 1st printing of Bill Morgan's The Complete Uncensored History of the Beat Generation. 291 pages, it measures about 6.5" x 9.5" and is in very good condition. The provenance is uncertain but it may have been a gift (purchased from my Amazon Wishlist).

Bill Morgan has written more than a dozen books about the Beat writers and may be best known as Allen Ginsberg's biographer. While Morgan's title over-reaches a bit (it is impossible to present a complete history of the Beat Generation in 291 pages), Morgan does a good job at narrating "the history of these writers primarily as a social group of friends" (inside dust jacket). Primarily focusing, of course, on Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs (along with Cassady, Carr, and others), as one would expect, Ginsberg comes across as the primary force in the movement from a literary/business perspective.

If you are a casual reader of this blog and have holes in your understanding of the Beat Generation, this is a good place to start. It definitely belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf.







Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (9th from the left that you can see in the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Whole Shot: Collected Interviews with Gregory Corso edited by Rick Schober.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Curation #144 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac, The Word and the Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual Quester by Ben Giamo



Item #144 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 2000 Southern Illinois University Press first printing of Kerouac, The Word and the Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual Quester by Ben Giamo. 246 pages, it measures about 5-3/4" x 9" and is in very good condition. I don't remember the provenance but I suspect I purchased it used via Amazon. "M.V. Standerfer" is handwritten in ink on the inside front cover.

Giamo is an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame, so he has credibility when it comes to writing a book about Kerouac as "spiritual quester." I found this an academic and yet compelling read. Plus, how can you argue with a book that spends a whole chapter exploring what IT is?* Or that uses Jack's painting, "Old Angel Midnight," as the cover?

You won't get any arguments from me that Kerouac was a religious writer, so Giamo's thesis -- "to chronicle and clarify the various spiritual quests undertaken by Kerouac -- as revealed by his novelistic writings" (p. xix)-- makes sense to me from the outset and Giamo supports his thesis via careful analysis of both Kerouac's fiction and his letters.

This definitely belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf.


*If you aren't familiar with IT, I suggest you read or re-read On the Road right away.






Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (8th from the left that you can see in the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Typewriter is Holy: The Complete Uncensored History of the Beat Generation by Bill Morgan.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Curation #143 from my Kerouac bookshelf: A Life of Herbert Huncke, American Hipster: The Times Square Hustle Who Inspired the Beat Movement by Hilary Holladay



Item #143 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 2013 Magnus Books (no printing number) edition of A Life of Herbert Huncke, American Hipster: The Times Square Hustler Who Inspired the Beat Movement. There's no comma in the title -- I put that there for lack of a better option. The cover title appears exactly the same way on the title page. I suppose I could use two colons, but that looks weird to me, as does running the first two lines together without punctuation. There's probably a right way but I am not going to lose sleep over it. 374 pages, this copy measures about 5-1/4" x 8-1/8" and is in very good condition. I have forgotten the provenance but it likely came from Amazon.

Herbert Huncke was a significant figure among the Beat Generation writers but gets much less written about him than the core triumvirate of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs (not to mention Lucien Carr and his too-often unsung role). Hence, this biography is a significant contribution to the story of the Beats. Author Holladay, a Ph.D., is an American literature scholar with several books to her credit and has taught at James Madison University and UMass Lowell. At the latter institution she was the founding director of the Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for American Studies (which I assume is now called the Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for the Public Humanities).

With those credentials, it is no surprise that this is an informative and well-written biography. I found it especially satisfying because it dealt with a subject I know a lot about but presented much information that was new to me about the life of Herbert Huncke. You may already know that Huncke is the Times Square hustler from whom Kerouac likely got the term "beat," but did you know about his interactions with sex researcher Alfred C. Kinsey, his time as a galley worker on a ship, his autobiography (Guilty of Everything: The Autobiography of Herbert Huncke), or that he loved cats?

You'll learn all that and more in Holladay's wonderful book, one that deserves a spot on your Kerouac bookshelf.






Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (7th from the left that you can see in the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Kerouac, the Word and the Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual Quester by Ben Giamo.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Monday, September 17, 2018

Trickster Feminism by Anne Waldman: A Review



Recently published by Penguin Books, Anne Waldman's Trickster Feminism consists of 17 poems across its 141 pages. The back cover blurb is intriguing:
Mythopoetics, shape-shifting, quantum entanglement, Anthropocene blues litany, and chance operation play inside the field of these intertwined poems, which coalesced out of months of protests with some texts penned in the streets. Anne Waldman looks to the imagination of mercurial possibility, to the spirits of the doorway and of crossroads, and to language that jolts the status quo of how one troubles gender and outwits patriarchy. She summons tarot's Force Arcana, the passion of the suffragettes, and various messengers and heroines of historical, hermetic, and heretical stance, creating and intersectionality of live experience: class, sexuality, race, politics all enter the din. These are experiments of survival.
As I undertook to read this collection, that blurb weighed on my mind. When I have to look up words from the back cover blurb, it causes me to assume that the book's content will be inaccessible to someone of average intelligence such as I. And my concerns weren't unfounded. A dictionary was necessary throughout (to look up words like sciamachy, chthonic, crenellated, and crepuscular); yet, while I did find Waldman's poetry difficult to access, there was a message coming through about speaking to power from a feminist perspective -- in particular, a trickster feminist perspective. That is, a perspective that is unpredictable, cagey, even deceitful when in service to truth and righteous protest. I know that last part doesn't make sense, but it was "first thought" so I'll leave it (as "best thought").

Waldman experiments with forms. There is prose poetry, and what reads as almost a call-and-response chant. If you've heard her perform her poetry, you can hear her fiery voice behind the words. In Marcella Durand's review of the book (click here), she discusses Waldman's use of the descort, wherein each line of a poem is unlike the others. Much of Waldman's work in this book strikes me that way -- almost evoking Kerouac and a stream-of-consciousness approach where one line doesn't obviously connect to the lines before or after it. Durand also mentions Waldman's use of the term dithyramb, which befits her high-soaring and fervent style (it means a passionate or inflated speech, poem, or other writing).

I wasn't sure how to read "strangling me with your lasso of stars." It almost seems like a "cleave poem," wherein the two columns of poetry can be read three ways: down the left column, down the right column, or across both columns and down. I doubt Waldman would lower her sights to such a ham-handed form, but she resonates with the trickster -- so who knows?

Page 91 includes a small-print set of questions (that follow the "cleave poem"), which include "What is the B.I.E. movement?/And who invented it?"/Who were the Silent Sentinels?/What was Gertrude Stein wrong about?" Some of these have clear answers and some do not. And perhaps that is the point. After all, as Waldman states in "melpomene," all binaries are in question.

In these uncertain times, Waldman evokes the trickster in all of us to come forth and help resist that which has been wrought by the powerful in society (and not just "the predator big guy who abuses women" (p. 28). While it takes some work to divine her message, it is one well worth pursuing.



You can buy Trickster Feminism directly from the publisher by clicking here.



Curation #142 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Pictures from the Gone World by Lawrence Ferlinghetti



Item #142 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 1955 copyright City Lights Books sixth printing edition of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Pictures of the Gone World. 21 pages, it measures about 4-3/4" x 6-1/8" and is in good condition. I don't remember the provenance but I did find a Radison keycard holder tucked in the back with notes from a Lowell Celebrates Kerouac written on it. That probably means Crystal took it to read from at Jack's grave, so it's unlikely a provenance clue. I seem to remember her doing that, and I've only read from Jack's work at his grave.

These are early poems by the co-founder of the acclaimed City Lights Books in San Francisco, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Ferlinghetti needs no introduction to regular readers of The Daily Beat. He published and promoted the Beat writers, it was his cabin that Jack took refuge in and as a result wrote Big Sur, and so on. He is a towering figure in the Beat story. Ferlinghetti turned 99 years old on March 19, and he published a new novel this year.

As for Pictures of the Gone World, it consists of 27 fairly short poems, each one given a number as a title. There are no page numbers.

Ferlinghetti's poetry is accessible yet lyrical. My favorite line is from 5: "A POEM IS A MIRROR WALKING DOWN A STRANGE STREET." It is evident from this collection of poetry that Ferlinghetti has walked down some strange streets in his time.

This definitely belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf.





Or buy it directly from the publisher here.



Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (6th from the left that you can see in the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: A Life of Herbert Huncke, American Hipster: The Times Square Hustler Who Inspired the Beat Movement by Hilary Holladay.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Friday, September 14, 2018

Curation #141 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 by Louise Bogan



Item #141 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 1995 Farrar, Straus & Giroux second printing (1999) of The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 by Louise Bogan. 136 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I acquired it via Amazon.

It would take a true Kerouacophile to make the connection between this book's author, Louise Bogan, and Jack Kerouac. Without Googling, that is.

Here's the connection. You will recall that in Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, at Japhy's big going-away party, Rheinhold Cacoethes (real-life Kerouac-hater Kenneth Rexroth) is holding forth on current poets of the day. In his list is "Leontine McGee," who "says she's old" (Chapter 28). A little research (see Dave Moore's excellent Character Key to Kerouac's Duluoz Legend) will reveal that Leontine is real-life Louise Bogan, who hailed from Livermore Falls in my state of Maine. I used to supervise University of Maine at Farmington practicum students at the elementary school there. When I taught my Kerouac class at UMF, we used to read and analyze her poem, "Portrait," which relates to Cacoethes' comment.

Click here for biographical information on Louise as well as a couple of her poems. The Blue Estuaries was first published in 1968, and was the last volume of poetry published before her death in 1970. As this volume attests, Bogan was quite an accomplished poet.

If you believe in my Six Degrees of Jack Kerouac Theory, this book of poetry belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf.







Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (5th from the left that you can see in the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Pictures of the Gone World by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf




Thursday, September 13, 2018

Curation #140 from my Kerouac bookshelf: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey



Item #140 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 1962 Signet 59th printing of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. 272 pages, it measures about 4" x 7" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I acquired this in the first half of 2017 from either Amazon or Twice Sold Tales in Farmington, Maine.

If you are unclear of the Kerouac-Kesey connection, click here to read what I've said about it previously. Given the popularity of the excellent film adaptation, I doubt I need to summarize what this book is about. Hence, I don't have a lot to say about this book other than that it spurred me on to read Kesey's less well-known novel, Sometimes a Great Notion (which also got a Hollywood treatment).

Does a Kesey novel belong on your Kerouac bookshelf? Only if you buy into the Six Degrees of Jack Kerouac theory, which I obviously do; see this post and many subsequent posts on The Daily Beat -- you can find them all by Googling the following:
six degrees of jack kerouac site: https://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/

That's how you force Google to search a single website for a particular word or phrase. Pretty cool.





Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (upright just to the left of the pile - it got moved since the picture) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 by Louise Bogan.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Curation #139 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Beat Face of God: The Beat Generation Writers as Spirit Guides by Stephen D. Edington



Item #139 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 2005 Trafford Publishing first edition 6th printing of The Beat Face of God: The Beat Generation Writers as Spirit Guides by Stephen D. Edington. 146 pages, it measures about 6" x 9" and is in very good condition. The provenance is a little vague, but I think I got it directly from the author since he inscribed it as follows:
To: Rick - Hope this helps with
your Beat Explorations!
Best wishes--
Stephen D. Edington

Author Steve Edington is well-known in the Kerouac world from his long-time membership on the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Committee, the group that puts on the fantastic yearly festival in October (and activities in March around Jack's birthday). If memory serves, Steve is a past president of that committee. He is always a visible face at the festival, working behind-the-scenes as well as out front to bring the festival to fruition year after year. As a Unitarian minister, Steve is well-versed in the religious side of things, and he brings that knowledge to bear in this exploration of the intersection between the Beat Generation writers and living the spiritual life. His thesis is summarized on p. 9:
In the chapters that follow it is my intent to treat--drawing on both their lives and their writings--the Beat Generation writers as the authors of the gospel of an alternative spirituality and alternative religion of the 1950s.

True Beat Generation fans and scholars understand that Kerouac considered himself a religious writer, and Steve's book lends credence to that notion, thereby earning a spot on my Kerouac bookshelf.






Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (4th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Curation #138 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Iron Heel by Jack London



Item #138 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this copy of Jack London's The Iron Heel. There is no date or publisher information given. 254 pages, it measures about 6" x 9" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I ordered it from Amazon on June 23, 2012.

I haven't read this book . . yet. I originally ordered it because author Jack London was an influence on Jack Kerouac, and somewhere in my reading (post a comment if you know) I noted that Kerouac had been reading this particular title (a major influence on Kerouac was London's hobo-themed The Road, which is a great read). Additionally, the subject matter --  a future dystopia where an oligarchy retains control through terror (think 1984) -- seemed prescient and relevant. If I thought it was prescient and relevant in 2012, what must I think in 2018?

The Iron Heel was first published in 1907, making it one of the earliest examples of its genre. Its Kerouac connection is clear -- London influenced Kerouac and Kerouac apparently read this title -- so it makes sense to have a place for it on your Kerouac bookshelf.









Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (3rd from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Beat Face of God: The Beat Generation Writers as Spirit Guides by Stephen D. Edington.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Anne Waldman's Trickster Feminism



Penguin just sent me a review copy of Ann Waldman's latest book of poetry, Trickster Feminism. I'll be reviewing it here once I've given it a good read.


In the meantime, you can purchase a copy directly from Penguin by clicking here. Or use the Amazon link below.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Curation #137 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Women by Charles Bukowski



Item #137 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this 2002 Ecco 12th printing of Women by Charles Bukowski. 291 pages, it measures about 5-1/4" x 8" and is in very good condition. The provenance is likely that I acquired it via Amazon.

Given that he certainly was not a Beat writer, why is a Bukowski book on my Kerouac bookshelf? Simple. Acclaimed Kerouac biographer Gerry Nicosia recommended it to me, and that gave me enough of a connection to put it among my other Kerouac and Kerouac-related items.

Originally published in 1978, Women is a semi-autobiographical fiction novel about dozens of meaningless sexual encounters and excessive drinking. The narrator, Henry Chinaski, is a writer who travels to do readings and so some of the sex and drinking takes place in that context. I didn't love this book, but it is Bukowski and thus there is a certain engaging, straightforwardness to the writing which is appealing. It is hard to care much about the narrator, who is an unabashed womanizer and drunk. While I could relate to his sexual exploits as a man from a purely physical point of view, the narrator's objectification of women diminishes or actually eliminates the potential titillating aspects of his encounters.

The only line I see that I underlined in the whole book is on page 177: "People had to find things to do while waiting to die." Reminds me of Townes van Zandt's song, "Waiting Around to Die." I've read that when asked why he wrote so many sad songs, Townes said he didn't write sad songs -- he wrote hopeless songs. Chinaski is certainly that, but maybe hopelessness is the kindling for Buk's writing abilities.

I prefer Buk's poetry.

There is no real reason why this book should be on your Kerouac bookshelf unless you have a reason like I do as stated above.





Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (2nd from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Iron Heel by Jack London.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Curation #136 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg



Item #136 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this undated City Lights Books edition (no printing number) of Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems. 57 pages, it measures about 4-3/4" x 6-1/4" and is in very good condition. The provenance is uncertain.

First published in 1956, the poem "Howl" needs no introduction to regular readers of The Daily Beat. It is arguably Ginsberg's most famous, if not best, poem. Epic in length and content, you can read it here. The subject of a 2010 Hollywood movie starring James Franco, Howl was subject to a famous obscenity trial and ruled not obscene in 1957. Ginsberg first read this poem at the famous Six Gallery Reading in San Francisco on October 7, 1955.

This edition has an intro by William Carlos Williams, the poems "Howl" and "Footnote to Howl," and 9 other vintage Ginsberg poems. I don't know why City Lights didn't include a publication date (the title page shows only the original copyright dates of 1956 and 1959).

Like Kaddish and Other Poems, this Ginsberg tour de force belongs on your Kerouac bookshelf.




Or, buy it directly from the publisher here.



Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (you can't see it in the picture because it is pushed back and hidden between Kaddish and Women) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Women by Charles Bukowski.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Curation #135 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kaddish and Other Poems 1958-1960 by Allen Ginsberg



Item #135 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 2010 City Lights Books (no printing number) edition of Kaddish and Other Poems 1958-1960 by Allen Ginsberg.130 pages, it measures about 4-7/8" x 6-1/4" and is in very good condition. I don't remember the provenance. It may have been a review copy sent to me by the publisher given the publicity sheet I found tucked in the back.

Originally published in 1961, this is the expanded 50th anniversary edition, which includes "Kaddish" plus 15 other poems, an afterword by noted Ginsberg biographer Bill Morgan, previously unpublished family photographs, Naomi's paintings, and Ginsberg's essay, "How Kaddish Happened" (liner notes for his Atlantic Records recording of the poem).

If you haven't read, "Kaddish," Ginsberg's "other" long poem (perhaps the most famous being "Howl" -- to be curated tomorrow -- given its obscenity trial), click here for an on-line version. Scholars differ on which of the two is his best work. "Kaddish" means a Jewish prayer recited by mourners, and this poem is Ginsberg's elegy to his mother, Naomi. The other 15 poems are classic Ginsberg. As you would expect, Morgan's afterword is well-written and instructive.

When one thinks of Beat poets, Ginsberg usually tops the list, making this book a natural for any Kerouac bookshelf.







Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (first book on the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg (tucked and hidden between Kaddish and Women).

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf



Friday, September 7, 2018

Oops! I forgot the anniversary of the publication of On the Road

September 5 came and went and I completely forgot to mention that it was the anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac's On the Road in 1957, a whopping 61 years ago.

Happy Belated Anniversary to the book that was instrumental in jump-starting Jack's writing career.

Curation #134 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Apocryphal Road Code by Jared Randall



Item #134 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 2010 Salt Publishing first printing of Apocryphal Road Code by Jared Randall. 99 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I got this copy directly from the author, who inscribed the title page thus:
To Rick D,
You have your
finger on the
beat pulse . . .
Go, go, go . . . ! 
Jared Randall

I reviewed this hobo-centric poetry book here, and that review tells you everything you need to know in order to want to get your own copy of this excellent book of poetry. It begins with a reproduction of the Hobo Code, and we'd be a lot better off as a country if we lived by these 16 tenets. In particular, Jack needed to adhere to #6. The Hobo Code is available here.

Jack had an affinity for the American hobo (a chapter in Lonesome Traveler is titled "The Vanishing American Hobo" and I've written about this here), so any hobo-themed book deserves a spot on your Kerouac bookshelf.







Below is a picture of Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (last book on the right) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Kaddish and Other Poems 1958-1960 by Allen Ginsberg (the beginning of the 5th and final shelf).

Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Curation #133 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions by Rick Dale



Item #133 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 2008 BookSurge edition (no printing number) of The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions by Rick Dale. 221 pages, it measures about 5-1/4" x 8" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I likely purchased it -- at my cost as the author -- directly from CreateSpace (formerly BookSurge), an Amazon company.

I already curated this book -- click here. Consequently, I won't go into details about it. The reason this copy is not in the pile of other copies on the top of my Kerouac bookshelf is related to the inscription on the title page:
To Anonymous
@writesomething.net
You never know
what can happen!
Dig the Ride!
Rick Dale
12/3/08
That inscription is from 10 years ago, and I don't remember its specific genesis. I was unable to find a record of this matter in past blog posts. I have to assume that I promised a copy of this book to "Anonymous" and never was able to follow through (e.g., perhaps the person never provided me a snail mail address). I have learned not to inscribe books until I'm certain they have a home. If you can shed light on this matter, let me know in a comment. Maybe we can get this book to its rightful owner, albeit not in a timely manner.

I hope you'll consider The Beat Handbook as a worthy item for your own Kerouac bookshelf. There's no need for the usual Amazon link here -- just look over there on the right hand side of this blog for a link to purchase my book.



Below is a picture of Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (25th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Apocryphal Road Code by Jared Randall.

Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Curation #132 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas



Item #132 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 2006 Prime Books (no printing number) edition of Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas. 158 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8-1/4" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I ordered it from Amazon on October 1, 2011.

I've tried to reconstruct how I learned about this book to no avail. Based on my searching, I haven't blogged about it before and I have no e-mail records (e.g., contact with the author or publisher). No matter, it's on the old Kerouac bookshelf so it gets curated. And besides, the Kerouac connection is obvious.

Here is the back cover blurb:
The year is nineteen-sixty-something, and after endless millennia of watery sleep, the stars are finally right. Old R'lyeh rises out of the Pacific, ready to cast its damned shadow over the primitive human world. 
The first to see its peaks: an alcoholic, paranoid, and frightened Jack Kerouac, who had been drinking off a nervous breakdown up in Big Sur. Now Jack must get back on the road to find Neal Cassady, the holy fool whose rambling letters hint of a world brought to its knees in worship of the Elder God Cthulhu. 
Together with pistol-packing junkie William S. Burroughs, Jack and Neal make their way across the continent to face down the murderous Lovecraftian cult that has spread its darkness to the heart of the American Dream. But is Neal along for the ride to help save the world, or does he want to destroy it just so that he'll have an ending for his book?

Written in first person from Kerouac's point-of-view, this is Mamatas' first novel. I think I read this bizarre Kerouac meets Lovecraft novel when I first got it, but I don't remember my reaction. That likely means it didn't bowl me over one way or the other (or I didn't read it). Scanning it just now, I am wanting to (re)read it just to reside in Kerouac's world for a while, even though it is set within a Lovecraftian plot. This brief review provides an excerpt from the book: Weird Fiction Review.

If you're collecting books not just by but also about Jack Kerouac, this one fits the bill for your Kerouac bookshelf. I can't vouch for how much you'll like it.








Below is a picture of Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (25th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: yet another copy of The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions by Rick Dale.

Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Curation #131 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Visions of Kerouac: The Life of Jack Kerouac by Charles E. Jarvis



Item #131 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softbound 1974 Ithaca Press second edition of Visions of Kerouac: The Life of Jack Kerouac by Charles E. Jarvis. 235 pages, it measures about 5-1/2" x 8-1/4" and is in very good condition. The provenance is uncertain but I likely acquired it via Amazon. The inside cover is inscribed:

To John Georgevits -
Best wishes -
Charles E. Jarvis
November 28, 1977

I don't know who John Georgevits is, but if you know, drop us a comment.

Jarvis' Kerouac bio is one of the earliest. This copy shows a copyright date of 1973 as well as 1974, although I can't quite confirm on-line when it was first published. Ann Charters' Kerouac biography was published in 1973 and is widely recognized as the earliest comprehensive book on Jack's life. Jarvis' book cites Charters' work, so it definitely came afterwards. Of the 29 copies listed on AbeBooks.com, the earliest cited copyright date is 1974. This edition features a number of black-and-white photographs.

While this biography includes valuable details of Jack's life from the perspective of a close friend, some have pointed out biases in this work as well as a tone of self-aggrandizement (e.g., see the essay from Beatdom #16 available here - no author listed). Jack's hometown of Lowell features prominently here, as Jarvis graduated from Lowell High School in 1940 along with Kerouac best friend Sebastian Sampas (Jack graduated in 1939). Jarvis was a professor at Lowell Technical Institute, now UMass Lowell. Thus, there are details in this biography you won't find elsewhere.

I found this an interesting read, and intend to re-read it (along with most of the other books on my Kerouac bookshelf -- too many books, not enough time). It definitely belongs on any Kerouac bookshelf worth its salt.





Below is a picture of Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (25th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas.

Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Curation #130 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They're Not What You Think) by John Leland



Item #130 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 2007 Viking first edition first printing of Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They're Not What You Think) by John Leland. 205 pages, it measures about 5-5/8" x 8-1/3" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I ordered it from Amazon on December 29, 2012.

This is the book from which I borrowed a concise synopsis of the 5 journeys in On the Road and pasted it in my "working copy" for reference when I was teaching my Kerouac course at the University of Maine at Farmington.* Click here to see a picture of that synopsis.

The back cover blurb for Leland's book is an excerpt:
"My writing is teaching," Kerouac noted in his journal, and this was the point, even if readers didnt get it at first. "One of the greatest incentives of the writer is the long business of getting his teachings out and accepted." He was twenty-six when he started On the Road, shaking off a brief failed marriage and the death of his father, embarking on the next phase of his life. The new book would teach the way. To prepare he wrote down eleven "true thoughts" about himself, many of them vanities he hoped to overcome along his characters' travels. "I'm ready to grow up if they'll let me," he wrote. The product of his labors, he was sure, would be a "powerful and singularly gloomy book . . . but good." In due course the narrator learns and dispenses many lessons, often in the form of parables and revelations, providing a guide to alternative adulthood: What would Jack do? Contrary to its rebel rep, On the Road is not about being Peter Pan; it is about becoming an adult.

I swear I didn't know about this book when I wrote The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, yet the very thesis of my book was to use The Dharma Bums and On the Road to answer the question: What would Kerouac do? Hence, how could I not love Leland's book, which serves to answer the very same question (albeit in a much more scholarly way)?

Despite being one of their reporters, the NY Times review of Why Kerouac Matters (click here) is not without pretty strong criticism, and I don't disagree with a number of reviewer Matt Weiland's points. Leland was being intentionally playful in his discussion of the lessons of On the Road, a point that Weiland seems to miss.

I remember liking this book a lot when I first read it in 2013, and I see that I underlined a lot of passages in my copy. Skimming through it for curation's sake, I decided I need to re-read it without the pressure of mining it for teaching my Kerouac course.

Whether or not you agree with John Leland on the instructive nature of On the RoadWhy Kerouac Matters deserves a spot on your Kerouac bookshelf.




*Just after yesterday's post went to print I learned that a former colleague at UMF, Tom Eastler, had died as well as the wife of a former colleague, Matiana Glass. May they be safe in heaven dead, as Jack might put it.






Below is a picture of Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (24th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Visions of Kerouac: The Life of Jack Kerouac by Charles E. Jarvis.

Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf