Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Curation #147 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Kerouac: His Life and Work (Revised and Updated) by Paul Maher Jr.

Item #147 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this softcover 2004 Taylor Trade Publishing (no printing number) edition of Kerouac: His Life & Work (Revised and Updated) by Paul Maher Jr. 557 pages, it measures about 6" x 9" and is in very good condition. I don't remember the provenance to a certainty, but I may have bought it from the National Historical Park shop in Lowell, MA.

Note: That's not a typo in the author's name above. He does not use the comma one often finds after the last name and before Jr.

Lowell-native Paul Maher Jr. is a well-known name in the Kerouac world, having written, co-written, or edited -- by my count -- no less than 5 books about Jack Kerouac. I've met him once -- in Lowell. I believe this particular particular book has also been published under the title, Kerouac: The Definitive Biography. I'm not sure of the differences, if any, between the two versions.

Over the summer I finally got around to reading this tome in its entirety. I had started it once before and lost interest. To my mind, Maher's writing style is dry and sometimes awkward. Nevertheless, this biography is extensively researched -- relying primarily on archival documents such as letters and journals -- and detailed, with 25 pages of endnote citations broken down by chapter. There are 8 pages of glossy black-and-white photos midway through. I could quibble over the depth of Maher's treatment of certain events in Kerouac's life (too much attention to some and not enough to others), but that can be said about any biography.

This book definitely adds to the body of Kerouac scholarship and thus deserves a spot on your Kerouac bookshelf next to the many other Kerouac biographies, many of which we've previously curated.

Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (top of the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Jack's Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac by Barry Gifford and Lawrence Lee.

Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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