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|