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Mexico City Blues (242 Choruses)

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  2,643 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Jack Kerouac, who died in 1969 at the age of forty-seven, is renowned as the father of the "beat generation." His eighteen internationally acclaimed books -- including On the Road, Doctor Sax, The Subterraneans, and Lonesome Traveler -- were important signpost in a new American literature. Here, in Mexico City Blues, his only collection of poetry, his voice is as distincti ...more
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Published December 1st 2007 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published 1959)
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Feb 13, 2016 Donovan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry

Listen, I've read a lot of poetry, especially studying English Literature for so many years. Dickinson, Frost, Shakespeare, Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Eliot. Carver, Bukowski, Bly, Hoaglund, Glück, Cisneros, Nick Flynn. I've read Kerouac's three most popular novels, being On the Road (have read this three times), Dharma Bums, and Big Sur. Love him or hate him, he's a master beat novelist in the "stream of consciousness" style. But his poetry? Grade A Shit.

In college, the professors explai
Aug 25, 2007 Rodney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
It took me years to get beyond the Beat myth and see these poems for what they are; some of the most joyful, goofy and affecting writings of the last century. Kerouac wrote all 242 choruses--one per notebook page--over six weeks in 1955. His improvised word-jazz was at its peak; the poems are fresh and spontaneous but rarely sloppy (try it yourself if you don't believe me). The Buddhist leanings are a little simple-minded, but simplicity is part of the point. Kerouac combines a love for made-up ...more
Dec 28, 2015 Arcadia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished my Extended Essay! Hence, I finished this.
At first, I won't lie, I was kinda reserved towards the poem. They just looked like random words strewn together on a page. Poems are supposed to be pleasantly musical, in some shape or another. However, after the extensive research that came with writing my monster essay, there is no denying Kerouac's inherent musicality in his poems. The erratic, spontaneous, improvisational feel of jazz is vividly latent in all of these choruses. Good job
Luke Redfield
Aug 28, 2008 Luke Redfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of stream-of-conciousness
one of kerouac's finest moments for it's differency. open to any page and engage.

om. hare rama. hallelujah.
mexico. new orleans. sweet denver.

jack will always be cliche to one demographic and a god to another. an innovator too plagiarized today, in the same vein that bob dylan stole from woody g before the trend had been set.
be ahead of your time, but not too ahead of it.

fame always leads to critics. kerouac was probably an asshole, but i have a special place in my heart for anyone who lived ou
Sep 04, 2009 Brad rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, out-loud
At moments brilliant but mostly drug addled crap, Mexico City Blues is Jack Kerouac's career in microcosm. There are times when his poetry and prose are truly great, when he can incite or captivate or evoke a sensation like a master, but most of the time he is a hack.

I know, I know, y'all love him and think he is a literary god, but he really isn't. He and his friends (he is no Ginsberg or Ferlengetti, after all) came at a moment when they could do anything they wanted with no worries about edi
Tiah Keever
I think i was reading this at a bar in Belfast as I sipped my first Guinness on (Northern)Irish land(not my first Gunness by any means, just the first one in the Irelands). It was either this or Dr.Sax, and if it was Dr.Sax then i must've read this in Switzerland. Either way, if you like Kerouac you will probably find something you like here.
Lucas Theron Lammott
I think the thing with JK is finding the diamond in the "rough" between the free flow. Try not to think to hard about what your reading but let it speak to you in your own way... does that make any sense?
Mar 23, 2010 Shane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the greatest work of poetry I've ever read. It's pure freedom of form, hypnotic meters, and chasmic depth inspired me to be a writer for the rest of my life.
Odeen Rocha
Aug 23, 2014 Odeen Rocha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prefiero ser delgado
que famoso
soy gordo
Heather Marie
Nov 15, 2010 Heather Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
do you like poetry? dreams? me too. so does Jack. let's go sit on the roof now.
Feb 09, 2013 Tara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
So, I had to read this book for a class on Beat writers and writing. Not sure I would have read it otherwise. That being said, I didn't hate this - but honestly, I think Kerouac is better at writing prose than poetry.

Mexico City Blues is, to put it simply, Kerouac's ruminations on a variety of subjects while he was hiding in Mexico City in 1955. Lots of reflections on religion (Buddhism in particular), existentialist sorts of questions, jazz, and personal, autobiographical events. If these subje
Feb 08, 2011 Johnny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The poetry was... difficult to say the least. It often seemed to be just words for words sake. Having said that there were many moments of lyrical genius and some beautiful images evoked in an interesting way. i think that it will benefit from repeated readings.
Adam Dixon
Disappointing...not sure if I've changed over the years or Kerouac never matured into adulthood.
Michael Vagnetti
Urging toward what the author calls "saylessness," this is writing that swings and blows with the improvisational style of the jazz chorus. There's dope, spittle, adrenaline, joint pain, hot sweet moonlight, and someone who's read Sanskrit and is trying to sing it like it's sticking, and maybe get you to at the same time. He draws circles around nothing. See? Sure, you could read Suzuki on Zen in the fifties, but what the hell was America going to understand, share, or give you back? For me, the ...more
Marvin Reininger
I picked this book up at a book store in Seattle about seven years ago. At first glance it didn't intrigue me like Kerouac's novels had at first glance. The other day I went on an Amazon binge and decided to go ahead and make a purchase of Mexico City Blues. I couldn't put the damn thing down! There is so much going on in this 242 chorus poem! He was living with Burroughs in Mexico at the time of this writing and that shows with mild mentioning of heroin. Then there are the mentions of Lowell an ...more
May 21, 2016 Rod rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this most especially after running across a Michael McClure article online where he wrote that, although Kerouac would be remembered primarily as a novelist and the author of On the Road, "his masterpiece is Mexico City Blues, a religious poem startling in its majesty and comedy and gentleness and vision." Mmmm, yeah, well...there were definitely moments of unfettered brilliance scattered throughout this collection, I, alas, would never call it his masterpiece. I admit to being ...more
Alec Swartz
May 31, 2015 Alec Swartz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and surreal at its best. Hiccuped and unintelligible at its worst.

Perhaps, however, that is too harsh of a criticism, because much of the poetry in this book is an experiment of sound and language. The unintelligible sections should be enjoyed for its poesy, not meaning. Kerouac truly emerges as a talented jazz and blues poet.

Overall, this is a beautiful book of poetry. Kerouac is at his best during his meditations on death, meaning, and childhood -- all of which are pervasive throug
Craig Werner
Jul 12, 2011 Craig Werner rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"There is no Way to lose."
Kerouac's poetry is a predictably strange combination of spiritual wisdom, meandering white negro jazz-like improvisation, slightly domesticated Finnegans Wake punning, autobiographical meditation, and the proverbial kitchen sink. 20 per cent or so of the 244 poems--Kerouac conceived of them as choruses of a really long jazz performance--are high end keepers (the closing sequence on Charlie Parker among them); a quarter are random muddling; the rest somewhere in between
Jul 17, 2011 Brett rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, beat
By turns annoying and profound, Mexico City Blues is like a lot of Kerouac--you have to put up with a fair share of nonsense but in return for your patience you will sometimes get very lively and energetic imagery and wordplay.

Mexico City Blues is a book of 250-some poems that all pretty much run into each other as if it were one long poem. They are heavy on the Buddhism and designed to sound sort of like a jazz jam session on a page. I'd say this is really only for true Beat enthusiasts.
Alexander R.
Sometimes-sensical diddies and scribbled out scenes from a drug fueled/addled Kerouac. If I could do half stars, Id give this two and a half. Its not a terrible collection of poems. Whether or not Ill return to it, Im not sure. May not be often. Then again, it might have grow potential. Some of the choruses really did get my attention. Some really left me sighing and shaking my head with bewilderment.
Jun 14, 2016 Genndy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book of "poetry" is an absolute disaster, a trainwreck, a turd. And I'm saying that as a big Kerouac fan, and a big poetry fan, But Kerouac's poetry? Jesus Christ. There is absolutely nothing in this 250 pages of letters. Nothing. Just drogged up unarticulated babbling of which Kerouac apparently thought as "spiritual" in his drug frenzy. Revolting, meaningless, hermetic, senseless, pretentious, uncommunicative pages and pages and pages. Kerouac's worst work by far.
Aug 21, 2013 Moni rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Kerouac is not one of my favourite authors, that must be said from the outset! I found his poetry as empty as his prose, filled only by pretension and a highly inflated sense of purpose. The reader is baffled, unless foolish enough to find meaning in his ramble or some kind of knowing irony in its meaningless. Either response is as shallow as the text itself. I will never understand why this guy is still being published, I am sorry but it's beyond me!
David A Johnson
I like Kerouac's prose poetry, but his verse poetry is really, really spotty to me. Much more miss than hit, altho the hits are characteristically very, very good.

I'm not any sort of scholar, but Kerouac can describe amazingly well anything in the world he sees, and he seems to do that best with lots and lots of words that stretch on and on and on. Imagination and poems about things, rather than just experiences, aren't especially effective for me.
Jerry Oliver
Feb 15, 2013 Jerry Oliver rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Beautiful stuff. These 242 blues choruses mean different things to me at different times in life, but it's more about the feeling. You either get it or you don't. It's like jazz. It is jazz. For some it's an acquired taste. Others are born with bop in the blood. You need to step into the jam and find the rhythm in the words and enjoy the way they roll and play. Jack is a buzzed Buddha in sunglasses busy at prayer and play in this classic collection.
All I can say Never has a book of poetry affected me as deeply as Whitman's 1865 edition of Leaves of Grass. Each poem spoke to me in unique and different ways. Kerouac truly was the king of stream of consciousness prose. His sense of sound and the way words flow together is showcases beautifully here. I'm really at a loss for words...
Sep 01, 2007 Josie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of beat poetry
A poem that functions more like a 242 verse jazz rhapsody, this book tackles everything from childhood to religion to nonsense. Each poem builds upon or contradicts the one before, and each toys with language and meaning. Though I admit I didn't understand all of it, I feel its one of those poems one can read into or see more in each time one reads it.
Sep 20, 2009 Todd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To make any sense of Mexico City Blues by Kerouac, you've got to read it out loud, and read it quickly.

Love his novels, and I'm starting to fall in love with his poetry.

... Also, if anyone is planning on getting into Kerouac's Buddhist texts, then, in the words of Jack: "To understand what I'm sayin, You gotta read the Sutras."

Rob Blankinship
Jan 16, 2011 Rob Blankinship rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is perhaps the single worst book of poetry I've encountered. Will I bother to review this? Why bother; I'd need to start munching on mushrooms just to maybe take a stab at this incoherent mess where even any form of rubber-neck syndrome towards the awful gives way to anger.

I'm giving Kerouac one more chance w/ "On the Road", though that's it.
Sep 07, 2014 Sofja rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quel drogato e cazzone dello zio Jack quando scriveva le sue poesie usava una metrica cromata-abbronzata più che perfetta. Miei cari ragazzotti barzotti che fingete di essere poeti, nella vita bisogna averci stile e la metrica.
Feb 05, 2012 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While not my favorite work by Kerouac, Mexico City Blues is overall a great piece of literature. While at times difficult to follow, there are many outstanding choruses that I keep going back to re-read.
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Born on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Jack Kerouac's writing career began in the 1940s, but didn't meet with commercial success until 1957, when On the Road was published. The book became an American classic that defined the Beat Generation. Kerouac died on October 21, 1969, from an abdominal hemorrhage, at age 47.
Early Life

Famed writer Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Keroua
More about Jack Kerouac...

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“I'd rather be thin than famous
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paste that in your broadway show”
“I’m an idealist
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the rest of my life
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and the rest of my life
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