Jack Kerouac

Barry Miles, Author Henry Holt & Company $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6043-0
Making bricks without straw is a phrase that suggests a product empty of data, but Miles, biographer of Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs and once proprietor of a ""Beat"" bookshop in London, has made the process work in the case of Kerouac. Apparently unable to quote from more than a few scraps of copyright writings because of opposition from the Kerouac estate, Miles has turned to other sources to limn Kerouac's sex-obsessed, alcohol-sodden and drug-overdosed life. A striking portrait emerges of the author of On the Road (1957). Composing prolifically on teletype rolls, Kerouac produced what he thought of as spontaneous writing--barely fictional reportage about the lives of his self-styled ""Beat"" (for beatific) generation. Outwardly virile, looking like a mill-town Canuck lumberjack, Kerouac was, Miles contends, ""infantilised by his mother and unable to behave as an adult."" Miles sees the mark of mutual Oedipal feelings in Kerouac's work and in his overheated life with his mother, to whom he always returned. Miles concedes that Kerouac's writing is ""often splendid"" and influential, but he dismisses most of it as self-indulgent concoctions for a market that the Beats created for themselves. A little more about this marketing would have made his book a more welcome addition to the Kerouac biography shelf, already crammed with such titles as Ann Charters's Kerouac, Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe and Ellis Amburn's Subterranean Kerouac. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1998
Release date: 11/01/1998
Show other formats
Paperback - 332 pages - 978-0-8050-6044-7
Paperback - 396 pages - 978-0-7535-0059-0
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-0-7535-1292-0
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.