Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Town and the City

I started reading The Town and the City yesterday. I'm up to Chapter 7 (p. 45). Once I finish it, I will have read all of Kerouac's novels (at least once).

As I said on Facebook today (in the Jack Kerouac group), it's Jack and it's not Jack. You can hear his voice from On the Road and The Dharma Bums, etc., but it's more constrained (more classic in form). And it's definitely autobiographical (roman à clef) like his later novels, although even more heavily fictionalized. For example, whereas Kerouac's parents, Leo and Gabrielle, are clearly represented by George and Marge Martin, the Martin family includes eight children (not counting Julian, who, like real-life Gerard Kerouac, died), not three (Caroline, Jack, and Gerard). One of the eight is Julian's twin brother, Francis. I gather from other sources that characters in The Town and the City are sometimes composites, blending several real-life people into one fictional characters (e.g., some have suggested that Francis Martin is a composite of William S. Burroughs, Gerard Kerouac, Hal Chase, and Jack Kerouac).

If you haven't yet read The Town and the City, I recommend it. I know I'm only 9% of the way through it, but I'm confident it will continue to engage me throughout. I want to know what happens to Peter and Joe and Ruth and Francis and Mickey and Rose and Charley and George and Marge (there's a third daughter but she hasn't appeared yet for some reason).

Happy reading . . . .

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