In his debut novel, Junky, Burroughs fictionalized his experiences using and peddling heroin and other drugs in the 1950s into a work that reads like a field report from the underworld of post-war America. The Burroughs-like protagonist of the novel, Bill Lee, see-saws between periods of addiction and rehab, using a panoply of substances including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, paregoric (a weak tincture of opium) and goof balls (barbiturate), amongst others. For this definitive edition, renowned Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris has gone back to archival typescripts to re-created the author's original text word by word. From the tenements of New York to the queer bars of New Orleans, Junky takes the reader into a world at once long-forgotten and still with us today. Burroughs’s first novel is a cult classic and a critical part of his oeuvre.
First published in 1958, a year after On the Road put the Beat Generation on the map, The Dharma Bums stands as one of Jack Kerouac's most powerful and influential novels. The story focuses on two ebullient young Americans--mountaineer, poet, and Zen Buddhist Japhy Ryder, and Ray Smith, a zestful, innocent writer--whose quest for Truth leads them on a heroic odyssey, from marathon parties and poetry jam sessions in San Francisco's Bohemia to solitude and mountain climbing in the High Sierras.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
"Each book by Jack Kerouac is unique, a telepathic diamond. With prose set in the middle of his mind, he reveals consciousness itself in all its syntatic elaboration, detailing the luminous emptiness of his own paranoiac confusion. Such rich natural writing is nonpareil in later half XX century, a synthesis of Proust, Céline, Thomas Wolfe, Hemingway, Genet, Thelonius Monk, Basho, Charlie Parker, and Kerouac's own athletic sacred insight.
"Big Sur's humane, precise account of the extraordinary ravages of alcohol delirium tremens on Kerouac, a suerior novelist who had strength to complete his poetic narrative, a task few scribes so afflicted have accomplished—others crack up. Here we meet San Francisco's poets & recognize hero Dean Moriarty ten years after On the Road. Jack Kerouac was a 'writer,' as his great peer W.S. Burroughs says, and here at the peak of his suffering humorous genius he wrote through his misery to end with 'Sea,' a brilliant poem appended, on the hallucinatory Sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur." —Allen Ginsberg
This urgently paced yet deeply introspective novel closely tracks Jack Kerouac’s own life. Jack Duluoz journeys from the Cascade Mountains to San Francisco, Mexico City, New York, and Tangier. While working as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the Cascades, Duluoz contemplates his inner void and the distressing isolation brought on by his youthful sense of adventure. In Tangier he suffers a similar feeling of desperation during an opium overdose, and in Mexico City he meets up with a morphine-addicted philosopher and seeks an antidote to his solitude in a whorehouse.
As in Kerouac’s other novels, Desolation Angels features a lively cast of pseudonymous versions of his fellow Beat poets, including William S. Burroughs (as Bull Hubbard), Neal Cassady (as Cody Pomeray), and Allen Ginsberg (as Irwin Garden). Duluoz draws readers into the trials and tribulations of these literary iconoclasts—from drug-fueled writing frenzies and alcoholic self-realizations to frenetic international road trips and tumultuous love affairs. Achieving literary success comes with its own consequences though, as Duluoz and his friends must face the scrutiny that comes with rising to the national stage.
Published seven years before his iconic On the Road, Jack Kerouac’s debut novel follows the experiences of one family as they navigate the seismic cultural shifts following World War II. Inspired by Kerouac’s own New England youth, the eight Martin children enjoy an idyllic upbringing in a small Massachusetts mill-town. Middle son Peter, a budding intellectual and promising athlete, most strongly feels the lure of the future. When war breaks out, the siblings’ lives are interrupted by military service; their parents must sell their house after the family business goes bankrupt; and Peter, eager to see the world, voyages overseas as a Merchant Marine.
After returning home, Peter is drawn to the kinetic energy of New York City and the progressive, bohemian ideas springing from its denizen young poets, writers, and artists. His new friends are fictionalized versions of Kerouac’s contemporaries: Allen Ginsberg (as Leon Levinsky), Lucien Carr (as Kenneth Wood), and William Burroughs (as Will Dennison), and other members of the Beat Generation. Seen by Peter’s parents as hoodlums and junkies, the Beats challenge conventional American ideas of everything from authority and religion to marriage and domestic life.
Inspired by Jack Kerouac's adventures with Neal Cassady, On the Road tells the story of two friends whose cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naivete and wild ambition and imbued with Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up.
"An authentic work of art . . . the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as 'beat,' and whose principal avatar he is."
--Gilbert Millstein, The New York Times
"On the Road has the kind of drive that blasts through to a large public. . . . What makes the novel really important, what gives it that drive is a genuine new, engaging and exciting prose style. . . . What keeps the book going is the power and beauty of the writing."
--Kenneth Rexroth, San Francisco Chronicle
"One of the finest novels of recent years. . . a highly euphoric and intensely readable story about a group of wandering young hedonists who cross the country in endless search of kicks."
--Leonard Feather, Downbeat
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Written in 1967 from the vantage point ot the psychedelic sixties, Vanity of Duluoz gives a fascinating portrait of the young Kerouac, dedicated and disciplined in his determination from an early age to be an important American writer.
Originally written in 1952 but not published until 1985, Queer is an enigma—both an unflinching autobiographical self-portrait and a coruscatingly political novel, Burroughs' only realist love story and a montage of comic-grotesque fantasies that paved the way for his masterpiece, Naked Lunch.
Edited from the original manuscripts and introduced by renowned Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris, Queer is a haunting tale of possession and exorcism, a key to the Burroughsian oeuvre, and a novel with a history of secrets.
One of the dozen books written by Jack Kerouac in the early and mid-1950s, Maggie Cassidy was not published until 1959, after the appearance of On the Road had made its author famous overnight, Long out of print, this touching novel of adolescent love in a New England mill town, with its straight-forward narrative structure, is one of Kerouac's most accesible works. It is a remarkable , bittersweet evocation of the awkwardness and the joy of growing up in America.
Writers and cultural icons Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg are the most celebrated names of the Beat Generation, linked together not only by their shared artistic sensibility but also by a deep and abiding friendship, one that colored their lives and greatly influenced their writing. Editors Bill Morgan and David Stanford shed new light on this intimate and influential friendship in this fascinating exchange of letters between Kerouac and Ginsberg, two thirds of which have never been published before. Commencing in 1944 while Ginsberg was a student at Columbia University and continuing until shortly before Kerouac's death in 1969, the two hundred letters included in this book provide astonishing insight into their lives and their writing. While not always in agreement, Ginsberg and Kerouac inspired each other spiritually and creatively, and their letters became a vital workshop for their art. Vivid, engaging, and enthralling, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters provides an unparalleled portrait of the two men who led the cultural and artistic movement that defined their generation.
Written in 1951-52, Visions of Cody was an underground legend by the time it was finally published in 1972. Writing in a radical, experimental form ("the New Journalism fifteen years early," as Dennis McNally noted in Desolate Angel), Kerouac created the ultimate account of his voyages with Neal Cassady during the late forties, which he captured in different form in On the Road. Here are the members of the Beat Generatoin as they were in the years before any label had been affixed to them. Here is the postwar America that Kerouac knew so well and celebrated so magnificently. His ecstatic sense of superabundant reality is informed by the knowledge of mortality: "I'm writing this book because we're all going to die. . . . My heart broke in the general despair and opened up inward to the Lord, I made a supplication in this dream."
"The most sincere and holy writing I know of our age." —Allen Ginsberg
"His life . . . ended when he was nine and the nuns of St. Louis de France Parochial School were at his bedside to take down his dying workds becase they'd heard his astonishing revelations of heaven delivered in catechism on no more encouragement than it was his turn to speak. . . ."
Unique among Jack Kerouac's novels, Visions of Gerard focuses on the scenes and sensations of childhood—the wisdom, anguish, intensity, innocence, evil, insight, suffering, delight, and shock—as they were revealed in the short tragic-happy life of his saintly brother, Gerard. Set in Kerouac's hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts, it is an unsettling, beautiful, and sad exploration of the meaning and precariousness of existence.
"This entire short novel Tristessa's a narrative meditation studying a hen, a rooster, a dove, a cat, a chihuaha dog, family meat, and a ravishing, ravished junky lady, first in their crowded bedroom, then out to drunken streets, taco stands, & pads at dawn in Mexico City slums." —Allen Ginsberg
During an unexplained fainting spell, Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac experienced a flash of enlightenment. A student of Buddhist philosophy, Kerouac recognized the experience as “satori,” a moment of life-changing epiphany. The knowledge he gained in that instant is expressed in this volume of sixty-six prose poems with language that is both precise and cryptic, mystical and plain. His vision proclaims, “There are not two of us here, reader and writer, but one golden eternity.”
Within these meditations, haikus, and Zen koans is a contemplation of consciousness and impermanence. While heavily influenced by the form of Buddhist poems or sutras, Kerouac also draws inspiration from a variety of religious traditions, including Taoism, Native American spirituality, and the Catholicism of his youth. Far-reaching and inclusive, this collection reveals the breadth of Kerouac’s poetic sensibility and the curiosity, word play, and fierce desire to understand the nature of existence that make up the foundational concepts of Beat poetry and propel all of Kerouac’s writing.
Uncovering a fascinating missing link in Kerouac's development as a writer, Atop an Underwood is essential reading for Kerouac fans, scholars, and critics.
"In my system, the form of blues choruses is limited by the small page of the breastpocket notebook in which they are written, like the form of a set number of bars in a jazz blues chorus, and so sometimes the word-meaning can carry from one chorus into another, or not, just like the phrase-meaning can carry harmonically from one chorus to the other, or not, in jazz, so that, in these blues as in jazz, the form is determined by time, and by the musicians spontaneous phrasing & harmonizing with the beat of time as it waves & waves on by in measured choruses." —Jack Kerouac
Acclaimed by Norman Mailer more than twenty years ago as "possibly the only American writer of genius," William S. Burroughs has produced a body of work unique in our time. In these scintillating essays, he writes wittily and wisely about himself, his interests, his influences, his friends and foes. He offers candid and not always flattering assessments of such diverse writers as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Samuel Beckett, and Marcel Proust. He ruminates on science and the often dubious paths into which it seems intent on leading us, whether into outer or inner space. He reviews his reviewers, explains his famous "cut-up" method, and discusses the role coincidence has played in his life and work. As satirist and parodist, William Burroughs has no peer, as these varied works, written over three decades, amply reveal.
In these collected articles, essays, and wild autobiographical tales, Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road, leads readers down the highways and through the myriad subcultures of mid-twentieth-century America, guiding them along with his ingenious observations and brilliant command of language. He cruises to San Francisco high on Benzedrine with a barefoot blond model in a white bathing suit; traipses from New York to Florida with photographer Robert Frank and a $300 German camera; takes a bus ride along the edge of a precipice in Montana; and revels in the swampy blues of an old Southern bum at a Des Moines diner.
On a journey of the mind, Kerouac courses through the philosophy, origins, and dreams of the Beats, those “crazy illuminated hipsters” of post-war America; describes his theory of experimental prose with the “Essentials of Spontaneous Writing”; and gives a tour of the San Francisco Renaissance, pointing out the new American poets who are “childlike graybeard Homers singing on the street.” This sweeping portrait of the art, sounds, and people of a nation in transition could only be told with Kerouac’s inimitable wisdom and charm.
Bringing together selections from literary journals and his private notebooks, Jack Kerouac’s Scattered Poems exemplifies the Beat Generation icon’s innovative approach to language. Kerouac’s poems, populated by hitchhikers, Chinese grocers, Buddhist saints, and cultural figures from Rimbaud to Harpo Marx, evoke the primal and the sublime, the everyday and the metaphysical. Scattered Poems, which includes the playfully instructive “How to Meditate,” the sensory “San Francisco Blues,” and an ode to Kerouac’s fellow Beat Allen Ginsberg, is rich in striking images and strident urgency.
Kerouac’s widespread influences feel new and fresh in these poems, which echo the rhythm of improvisational jazz music, and the centuries-old structure of Japanese haiku. In rebelling against the dry rules and literary pretentiousness he perceived in early twentieth-century poetry, Kerouac pioneered a poetic style informed by oral tradition, driven by concrete language with neither embellishment nor abstraction, and expressed through spontaneous, uncensored writing.
At home in the working-class town the summer before his sophomore year at Boston College, Peter finds himself conflicted. Like many Americans, Peter is unsure, suspended between the economic crisis of the previous decade and the impending US entry into World War II. In The Haunted Life, Peter struggles to define what he believes to be intellectually true and worthy of his life and talents.
Skillfully edited by Todd F. Tietchen, assistant professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell,The Haunted Life is rounded out by sketches, notes, and reflections Kerouac kept during the novella's composition as well as a revealing selection of correspondence with his father, Leo.
A spontaneous writing project in the form of an extended prose poem, this sonorous and spiritually playful book is one of Jack Kerouac’s most boldly experimental works. Collected from five notebooks dating from 1956 to 1959—a time in which Kerouac was immersed in Buddhist theory—Old Angel Midnight is comprised of sixty-seven short sections unified by an unwavering dedication to sounds, the subconscious, and verbal ingenuity.
Friday Afternoon in the Universe, in all directions in & out you got your men women dogs children horses pones tics perts parts pans pools palls pails parturiences and petty Thieveries that turn into heavenly Buddha. Thus begins Kerouac’s Joycean language dance. From birdsong to dharmic verse, street jargon to French slang, the resonances of the universe come blaring in though the windows, unfurling their meaning as the mind lets go and listens.
Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West Twentieth Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120 foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history. It represents the first full expression of Kerouac’s revolutionary aesthetic, the identifiable point at which his thematic vision and narrative voice came together in a sustained burst of creative energy. It was also part of a wider vital experimentation in the American literary, musical, and visual arts in the post-World War II period.
It was not until more than six years later, and several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of On the Road, Viking will publish the 1951 scroll in a standard book format. The differences between the two versions are principally ones of significant detail and altered emphasis. The scroll is slightly longer and has a heightened linguistic virtuosity and a more sexually frenetic tone. It also uses the real names of Kerouac’s friends instead of the fictional names he later invented for them. The transcription of the scroll was done by Howard Cunnell who, along with Joshua Kupetz, George Mouratidis, and Penny Vlagopoulos, provides a critical introduction that explains the fascinating compositional and publication history of On the Road and anchors the text in its historical, political, and social context.
Published 5 years before On the Road, this candid and perceptive roman à clef chronicles the adventures of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady before they became literary icons. In dive bars and all-night diners, cabs racing across Manhattan and squalid apartments sticky with “tea” smoke, these would-be artists pursue the ecstatic experiences that shape their work and satisfy their restless desire to live beyond the limits of convention.
At the heart of Go is Paul Hobbes, the alter ego of John Clellon Holmes. An aspiring novelist who shares the same creative interests as his friends, Paul frequently participates in their reckless, self-indulgent behavior. Yet his innate solemnness makes him an outsider, as does his commitment to his marriage. As Paul seeks to strike the right balance between experimentation and orthodoxy, freedom and obligation, he casts a discerning eye on his peers. The result is a thrilling and indispensible portrait of the Beat movement before it took America by storm.
In The Voice is All, Joyce Johnson, author of her classic memoir, Door Wide Open, about her relationship with Jack Kerouac, brilliantly peels away layers of the Kerouac legend to show how, caught between two cultures and two languages, he forged a voice to contain his dualities. Looking more deeply than previous biographers into how Kerouac’s French Canadian background enriched his prose and gave him a unique outsider’s vision of America, she tracks his development from boyhood through the phenomenal breakthroughs of 1951 that resulted in the composition of On the Road, followed by Visions of Cody. By illuminating Kerouac’s early choice to sacrifice everything to his work, The Voice Is All deals with him on his own terms and puts the tragic contradictions of his nature and his complex relationships into perspective.
Tracing the career of a writer of uncertain parentage and omnivorous erotic tastes, Answered Prayers careens from a louche bar in Tangiers to a banquette at La Côte Basque, from literary salons to high-priced whorehouses. It takes in calculating beauties and sadistic husbands along with such real-life supporting characters as Colette, the Duchess of Windsor, Montgomery Clift, and Tallulah Bankhead. Above all, this malevolently finny book displays Capote at his most relentlessly observant and murderously witty.
A story about three American travelers adrift in the cities and deserts of North Africa after World War II, The Sheltering Sky explores the limits of humanity when it touches the unfathomable emptiness and impassive cruelty of the desert.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
A classic of postwar American literature, Last Exit to Brooklyn created shock waves upon its release in 1964 with its raw, vibrant language and startling revelations of New York City’s underbelly. The prostitutes, drunks, addicts, and johns of Selby’s Brooklyn are fierce and lonely creatures, desperately searching for a moment of transcendence amidst the decay and brutality of the waterfront—though none have any real hope of escape. Last Exit to Brooklyn offers a disturbing yet hauntingly sensitive portrayal of American life, and nearly fifty years after publication, it stands as a crucial and masterful work of modern fiction. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Hubert Selby Jr. including rare photos from the author’s estate.
Charles Bukowski's posthumous legend continues to grow. Factotum is a masterfully vivid evocation of slow-paced, low-life urbanity and alcoholism, and an excellent introduction to the fictional world of Charles Bukowski.
"People come to my door—too many of them really—and knock to tell me Notes of a Dirty Old Man turns them on. A bum off the road brings in a gypsy and his wife and we talk . . . . drink half the night. A long distance operator from Newburgh, N.Y. sends me money. She wants me to give up drinking beer and to eat well. I hear from a madman who calls himself 'King Arthur' and lives on Vine Street in Hollywood and wants to help me write my column. A doctor comes to my door: 'I read your column and think I can help you. I used to be a psychiatrist.' I send him away . . ."
"Bukowski writes like a latter-day Celine, a wise fool talking straight from the gut about the futility and beauty of life . . ." —Publishers Weekly
"These disjointed stories gives us a glimpse into the brilliant and highly disturbed mind of a man who will drink anything, hump anything and say anything without the slightest tinge of embarassment, shame or remorse. It's actually pretty hard not to like the guy after reading a few of these semi-ranting short stories." —Greg Davidson, curiculummag.com
Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany on August 16, 1920, the only child of an American soldier and a German mother. Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he went on to publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose, including Pulp (Black Sparrow, 1994), Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970 (1993), and The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992). Other Bukowski books published by City Lights Publishers include More Notes of a Dirty Old Man, The Most Beautiful Woman in Town, Tales of Ordinary Madness, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, and Absence of the Hero. He died of leukemia in San Pedro on March 9, 1994.
“California, Labor Day weekend . . . early, with ocean fog still in the streets, outlaw motorcyclists wearing chains, shades and greasy Levis roll out from damp garages, all-night diners and cast-off one-night pads in Frisco, Hollywood, Berdoo and East Oakland, heading for the Monterey peninsula, north of Big Sur. . . The Menace is loose again.”
Thus begins Hunter S. Thompson’s vivid account of his experiences with California’s most notorious motorcycle gang, the Hell’s Angels. In the mid-1960s, Thompson spent almost two years living with the controversial Angels, cycling up and down the coast, reveling in the anarchic spirit of their clan, and, as befits their name, raising hell. His book successfully captures a singular moment in American history, when the biker lifestyle was first defined, and when such countercultural movements were electrifying and horrifying America. Thompson, the creator of Gonzo journalism, writes with his usual bravado, energy, and brutal honesty, and with a nuanced and incisive eye; as The New Yorker pointed out, “For all its uninhibited and sardonic humor, Thompson’s book is a thoughtful piece of work.” As illuminating now as when originally published in 1967, Hell’s Angels is a gripping portrait, and the best account we have of the truth behind an American legend.
From the Hardcover edition.
The newly appointed police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly unorthodox move, enlists the two men in the murder investigation, counting on the reserved Kreizler's intellect and Moore's knowledge of New York's vast criminal underworld. They are joined by Sara Howard, a brave and determined woman who works as a secretary in the police department. Laboring in secret (for alienists, and the emerging discipline of psychology, are viewed by the public with skepticism at best), the unlikely team embarks on what is a revolutionary effort in criminology-- amassing a psychological profile of the man they're looking for based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before. and will kill again before the hunt is over.
Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian's exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society's belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.
From the Paperback edition.