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Selected Letters, 1940-1956 (Kerouac Selected Letters #1)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  582 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Thirty years after his death, popular and academic interest in the life and work of Jack Kerouac have reached an all-time high. The first volume of his selected letters, edited by renowned biographer and Beat scholar Ann Charters, was widely regarded as a vital and momentous contribution to Kerouac scholarship. In Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969, the second and fi ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published March 1st 1996 by Penguin (Non-Classics) (first published 1995)
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Brilliant. Fascinating. Uplifting. Devastating - just four adjectives which begin to describe this collection of letters by Kerouac.
Volume 1, edited by the brilliant Ann Charters, paints a fascinating portrait of a troubled but gifted man from his early adult life up until the time when he was launched into stardrom (1957 with the publication of his classic 'On the Road').

Some of the early letters to Sebastian are really beautiful and we see Kerouac's devotion and commitment to his vocation as w
Very readable collection gives very good insights into Kerouac's life particulary from Town and the City through On The Road. Pestering his literary agents, unrealistic plans pitched to his friends, certainly more personal sniping than in his work. Surprisingly frequent anti-gay remarks and interesting to see how he treats Allen Ginsburg as very much a kid-brother. His pathological avoidance of paying child support is unsettling and his inability to exist without the monetary support of his moth ...more
Ben Bettinson
amazing insight into Kerouac...small glimpses into his breakthroughs as a writer and as a he grows from ambition into artist, the letters in the middle to neal casssidy, where he just goes off, makes that leap, they read like lost passages from on the road-also includes letters from ginsberg and burroughs...very very awesome
Oct 23, 2012 B-MO marked it as to-read
Best quote in the book so far goes something like this...and I think this is perhaps the most important think Kerouac said(something similar):
"There is a age of collectivism upon us. I feel it is my job to teach beauty to the collectivists, and teach collectivism to those who love beauty."
This collection was edited very well. I found it easier to read and more enjoyable than On the Road . It follows the trials of Kerouac as he struggles to get his writing career started. ...more
Gregory Rodriguez
These letters from Jack Kerouac to his friends lets you into the world of Mr. K than what appeared on the pages of "On the Road".
Great book for fans of Kerouac.
He was so much better before he stopped making sense and overindulging in drugs. Now I'm afraid to reread On the Road for the first time in a decade. I did like what he said to Ginsberg about writing an early draft of On the Road:

"I wrote that book on COFFEE...remember said rule. Benny, tea, anything I KNOW none as good as coffee for real mental power kicks."

Never tried bennies or smoking weed, but I too find COFFEE good for "mental power kicks," though sometimes there's too much kicking in too
Tony Peterson
my hetero life mate
Warning. This book may change your opinion of Jack who turned from a starry eyed traveler in to an alcoholic cynic. His views (extremely chauvinistic and sexist) against women shocked me. I went from having a crush on this writer to seeing him as a real person. It didn't change my opinion of him as a brilliant person, but it did make my fantasies of him being alive and is hanging out die a death that only a dream can take.
If there were much doubt that Kerouac's novels were largely embellished journals, this book will surely cast those doubts out. These letters read very much like his novels. They are for good or ill also a window into what he was probably more accurately like, as occasionally we are given a window into the mind of a striving artist with all its petty and jealous thoughts.
Che vita dev'essere stata quella di Kerouak!
Sballo, alcool, droga, viaggi, lavori saltuari, libri letti e scritti... eternamente in ballo tra la costa est ed ovest degli Stati Uniti, sempre alla ricerca di nuovi stimoli, di nuove avventure!
Gli anni della beat generation hanno un fascino magnetico, soprattutto nelle parole di Jack Kerouak!
The story behind the complete rewrite of on the road was worth this insightful collection alone....
Back alleys of the writing life, Dostoyevsky studies and influences, comment on F. Scott Fitzgerald and others, records of production, word counts, typewriters available or not, misgivings about drunkenness and lots of drunkenness, forgotten vows, imaginary potentialities, money negotiations and worries as Faulkner noted (or was it Conrad) make up a salient thread of correspondence, negotiating in fact mainstream success (late coming but nevertheless full expected---and when it did...) wow, the ...more
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Kerouac Selected Letters (2 books)
  • Selected Letters, 1957-1969
On the Road The Dharma Bums Big Sur The Subterraneans Desolation Angels

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“Life must be rich and full of loving--it's no good otherwise, no good at all, for anyone.” 458 likes
“Maybe that's what life is... a wink of the eye and winking stars. ” 210 likes
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