Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Book Review - Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac – The Subterraneans
Groove Press; 1958]

As one of the founders of the Beat Generation, author Jack Kerouac is now ironically reaping the rewards for his works back in the 1950s and early '60s, despite his unexpected death in 1969 at the ripe age of 47.

His 'innovative' use of spontaneous prose has been passed on as inspiration for many who dabble in the art of literature, while many modern musicians also stake claim in being influenced from the Lowell, Massachusetts born writer.

The Subterraneans - like many of Kerouac's novels - took little time to compile. Spanning over 93 pages, this form of writing - as a reader - is quite a hard concept to pierce, with pragmatic sentences and an abundance of block sequences making the novel extremely hard to engage with from the outset.

Leo Percipied (Jack Kerouac) tells a story - that in a nutshell - consists of jumping from bars around San Fransisco with his cliquey group, comprising of other aspiring writers of the time, Adam Moorad and Frank Carmody (Allan Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs), while meeting and falling in love with an African American women, Mardou Fox (Alene Lee) who by the end of a the novel “makes it” with one of the outsiders of The Subterraneans, Yuri Gligoric (Gregory Corso).

Given the time it was written and the social issues it entails within the relationships of certain characters, The Subterraneans can be seen upon as controversial, despite its intentions not to be. It still doesn't escape the fact that this is self-indulgence at its finest. Maybe that's the whole point of the exercise Kerouac was attempting to design, but there's a fine line in self-indulging and this book crosses it on a regular basis.

By Simon K

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