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Move Under Ground

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  306 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
The year is nineteen-sixty-something, and after endless millennia of watery sleep, the stars are finally right. Old R’lyeh rises out of the Pacific, ready to cast its damned shadow over the primitive human world.

The first to see its peaks: an alcoholic, paranoid, and frightened Jack Kerouac, who had been drinking off a nervous breakdown up in Big Sur. Now Jack must get bac
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by Night Shade Books (first published 2004)
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Aug 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beat poets who shag shoggoths, Elder Gods who've read "On the Road"
I may be the wrong person to review this book. I've never read any of the Beat writers who Nick Mamatas lovingly imitates and appropriates in this book, not even Kerouac's On the Road.

I have, however, read plenty of Lovecraft, and other authors treading in Lovecraft's mythos. And, umm, I grew up in California. Albeit not in the 60s. So I kinda know what Mamatas is playing with here.

Move Under Ground was Mamatas's debut novel, and it's quite a trippy read. It really is about Jack Kerouac, William
Jesse Bullington
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read and enjoyed Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas last week. It really got me thinking on the old chestnut of writing about historical events and persons--do you write in such a way that someone with zero knowledge of the subject matter going into the novel will be able to follow--at the risk of being overly expository--or do you just plunge in and write for yourself and others who are intimate with the material? The way I write is to (attempt to) juggle the two, including tidbits the aficionad ...more
Chris "Stu"
Jul 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
It's a really spot-on imitation of Jack Kerouac's style and a pretty well-researched portrayal of Keruoac, Neal Cassady, and William Burroughs, as well as an interesting look at the Cthulhu mythos. However, as an actual plot, waaaaay too much gets resolved by random magic and coincidence and deus ex machina--a point that gets explicitly addressed by the narrator (Jack Kerouac) but not actually resolved in a satisfactory way.

In the end, it feels a bit too dreamlike and consequence-free for me to
Aaron Slack
Beatniks vs. Cthulhu. Abyssmal. I have a problem with quitting a book once I've started it, even though I should. This blessedly short novel is a Lovecraftian homage to (rather than a parody of) the "Beat" literature of the 40's and 50's as exemplified by Jack Kerouac. The premise of the book is that Cthulhu has risen and begun the conquest of 1960's America. For some reason the only people immune to the Call are the down-and-out members of society like junkies and Beatniks. Even against Cthulhu ...more
Eli Bishop
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-sff
"What if H.P. Lovecraft's cosmic demons showed up in a Jack Kerouac novel": this could be a gimmicky lark like the Sherlock-Holmes-versus-Dracula kind of thing various people have done, or it could be the kind of dense historical fantasy that Tim Powers is good at, but Mamatas is on to something different. For one thing, he writes the whole thing as Kerouac, not just mimicking his style but with a real feeling for his character and for the things he cared about. But he's also got a good reason f ...more
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confession: Just before I started reading this book I'd inwardly decided that this would be the last non-Lovecraft Cthulhu themed book I would read. Cthulhu has of late become a cute, and cuddly icon of ironic horror, and the original miasma of unknown dread the character was supposed to have has--for me--become totally lost amongst the internet memes, and cartoon depictions. Along comes MOVE UNDER GROUND.

MOVE UNDER GROUND has very little, if any, of the kitsch and wink/nod that you'd expect fro
Have you ever thought to yourself, "In a cosmic battle for the future of the world who would win; Jack Kerouac or Chthulu?" OK, you're right, it never even occurred to me either before I heard about Move Under Ground. Which is why it's just about the most preposterously cool premise I've heard for a book in a long time. So of course I had to read it.

Move Under Ground has more going for it than just a good gimmick. Mamatas smoothly overlays the dark, secretive world of H.P. Lovecraft's with the h
Dec 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You could read any review and learn about how this book is a brilliant pastiche that fuses both the styles and content of H.P. Lovecraft and Jack Kerouac, into a Beat Road Novel featuring the Lovecraftian elder gods making a grab for cosmic power pitted against the unlikely beat protaganists of Kerouac's world (both real and fictional) ... so the question remains, what then do you read this review for? Well, one day I was in Borderlands buying an Ian Banks book and I started talking to the clerk ...more
Paul Fergus
A supernatural stream-of-consciousness journey-battle to keep America free and bountiful for the rich, with only a dubious band of intellectuals standing between Let Them Eat Cake Forever and the savage forces of primitivism.

That is, ghost stories for ownership who fancy themselves literates.

On the surface you have Jack Kerouac, the King of the Beat Generation, and his fellow writers tackling the rise of the Elder God Cthulhu from its dark slumber to devour and transform the world, starting with
Printable Tire
I think I would have liked this novel more if it didn't involve actual historic characters... I'm terribly biased against novels that try to interpret real human beings... for instance, even if the main character was simply called "Jack" and it was explicitly implied he is Jack Kerouac, but never called that, it would have been better for me... the author does a good "creative writing 101" impersonation of beat writing mixed with h.p. lovecraft lore, which is a great idea, but unfortunately fall ...more
Jun 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great premise that seems counterintuitive at first, but ends up working better than you could have imagined. Basically "Move Under Ground" is a crossover novel between the Beat and Cthuluhu mythos'. Nick Mamatas does a great job mixing Kerouac's writing style with Lovecraft's and the result is like a literary reeses' peanut butter cup. It's a shame that this book doesn't seem to be widely promoted/distributed. It's a great treat for Kerouac/Lovecraft fans.

Also, Burroughs gets what is probably
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nick Mamatas nails the voice of Kerouac in this very weird piece of fiction. While I'm familiar with much of the work of the beats and gonzo writers, I'm less familiar with Lovecraft. Still, as much as beatniks vs cthulhu seems like a gimmicky match up, it works here simply because there's so much effort with the voice and style.
Ευθυμία Δεσποτάκη
Πιθανόν να κέρδιζε πέντε αστέρια, αν είχα κάποια επαφή με τους μπίτνικ. Ωστόσο η ροή του λόγου είναι εξαιρετική κι οι σχέσεις τους με τους Μεγάλους Παλαιούς αδιαμφισβήτητη.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked the general feel of unconsciousness and the dark and eerie hallucinatory visions of the main protagonist but at times I lost the main story line and what these scenes/passages really had to do with bringing the story along.

the author really captured a laid back and quite beat-esque language, although at times it felt forced to me. I'm not sure if I would read it again, but it was a nice quick read at the end of the day.

If H.P. Lovecraft and Jack Kerouac had a lover's, and then hired William S. Burroughs as the midwife, they might produce something not at all like this book. I'm not a big fan of mashups, but this is at least better than most. It's a gruesome road trip of a book, mimicking Kerouac style, but the story sometimes gets lost amidst the imagery.
I'll get to Nick Mamatas's book at length in a moment, but if you just want the short version: Mamatas imagines Jack Kerouac and the Beats dealing with an invasion of H. P. Lovecraft monsters, from the stream-of-consciousness, drug-addled POV of Kerouac.

Now, the long version.

It's possible to read Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories as a response to the dislocations and fractures of society in the 1910s to 1930s--that is, to say that Lovecraft would've been a perfect candidate for being in the Lost Gene
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
At first, this sounds what in fanfic circles is apparently known as "crack": an idea, a pairing, a crossover so absolutely ludicrous it's too weird and too much fun NOT to read. Like Winnie the Pooh fighting vampires in Sunnydale, or Mohammad on The Cosby Show.

But actually, it makes sense, in a somewhat twisted sort of way. The story is narrated by Jack Kerouac in something that... well, it's been a while since I read On The Road (in Swedish), so I really can't say whether Mamatas apes Kerouac o
Stumbled across this rather randomly, and am just getting started on it, but I have to say I find its entire premise to be fascinating. Basically this book is written from the perspective of Jack Kerouac in the days immediately following the publication of On the Road, holed up in a Big Sur cabin, freaking out over incipient fame and and receiving ominous letters from Neal Cassidy up north in San Francisco. Pretty quickly things take a turn for the Lovecraftean, complete with tentacled shoggoths ...more
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
[3.5 stars]

Everyone's somewhat familiar with Jack Kerouac's story: spent a lot of time On the Road with Neal Cassady, flipping off society and leaving a trail of Jazz, sex, abandoned kids, and burnt rubber across the American highway system (and part of Mexico), then doing all of that some more while also practicing Casual White Man Buddhism in the Pacific Northwest. Then of course, fighting against the literal incarnation of Ginsberg's Moloch that is the Dark Dreamer himself, Cthulhu.

Our memori
Bill Wallace
In the years from high school through grad studies, in my spare time, I immersed myself pretty thoroughly in both the extended Lovecraftian library and everything then in print by Kerouac, Burroughs, and company. That was, as they say, long ago and in another country and I haven't been back very often.

I couldn't resist reading a novel, well-reviewed here and there, that promised to merge the two disparate orbits of pop literature, even though I generally dislike fiction that uses real people as
Oct 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-a-week-2009
After the publication of 'On the Road', Jack Kerouac is hiding out in a cabin in Big Sur on the edge of the pacific when he starts getting letters from his old road buddy Neal Cassady. Something is seriously sick at the heart of America and only the beats and the poets and the bums can see it. Mugwumps, beetlemen, squid handed girls and murderous cultists are on the streets and the only way to avoid them is to move underground. Oh, and somewhere out in the dark waters the dead city of R'lyeh is ...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
What if R'lyeh rose off the coast of california and jack kerouac, william burroghs and neal cassady had to defeat the great old ones, after crossing the country from San Francisco to New York?

Frankly, the idea is better than the book. The book is fun, and Mamatas does a fair job with some of his impersonations, although at the end, he never really captures keroauc. Then again, maybe he does, it has been many years since I last read On The Road... maybe the problem is that Keroauc's gifts don't r
Jun 28, 2010 added it
Shelves: read-2010
Jack Kerouac is in Big Sur when Rlyeh rises from the deep. The Great Old Ones are coming back, so Kerouac thinking the planet may need whatever dharmic firepower he can spare, sets out to stop them. This quest will take him to San Francisco, Denver, New York, and many points in between, during which he'll join forces with Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Neal Cassady. He's going to need the help, as the path to salvation is filled with those who have heard the call, beetlemen and mugwumps. ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let's do the concept first, and if it doesn't grab you, this book probably wouldn't be for you anyway:

"Move Under Ground" is the sequel to "On the Road", where Jack Kerouac tells the story of how he, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs prevent Lovecraftian monsters from destroying the earth.

Yeah, weird. But it kind of works. Actually, it works way better than it has any right to. Mamatas captures Kerouac's prose really well, and he manages to keep the style up for most of the book. And the s
Kerouac vs Cthulhu. A beatnik pastiche with lots of lovecraft thrown in. Its really well done, of course the gap between the beatniks and lovecraft isn't as wide as you might think. Anyone who's read Kerouacs 'Dr.Sax' or Ginsbergs poem 'Howl' will see distinct touches of eldritch horror.
Surprisingly for a pastiche this isn't played for laughs, its a proper beat novel with all the humour, sleaze and darkness that one would expect. Because it stars Kerouac as opposed to Sal Paradyse there is a bi
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It does get tiring, like any other Kerouac read, from effusions left and right, only in Move Under Ground it is countless descriptions of deep blackness, monstrous evil, and utter emptiness. Mamatas has conquered the Kerouac formula and transitioned it relatively well.

He is obviously a Beat scholar, and peppered amid the fiction are small but acute observations on the relationships between the Beats.

Only hang up I have is, which is true for most Cthulhu lore, the role of cultists. I mean, is th
Norman Krumenacker
A crazy "sequel" to On the Road. This chthonic nightmare ride through America with Sal and Dean is written well and carries the action throughout the country in an ever-descending panoply of decay. This author has the chops to write as the beat generation's most famous author Jack Kerouac, and if you're a fan of the stream-of-consciousness/bender style then this book will impress and delight. The style lends itself to the devolving reality inherent in Lovecraftian works, and the narrative perspe ...more
Chris LaMay-West
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, beats
This genre-bending combination of the Beats and Lovecraft could easily have read as a joke. A fun romp, but ultimately insubstantial. But in fact it works spectacularly well by honoring both of source materials. Jack Kerouac witnesses R'yleh rising from the sea off of Big Sur Reality begins to bend, and only the Beats and assorted hipsters seem to be free from mental slavery to Chtulu. So he sets off to save reality itself, meeting up with Ginsberg, Cassady and Burroughs on the way. And it works ...more
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, 2014-books
Kind of crazy that I picked this book to read, as i haven't read either On the Road or H.P. Lovecraft (hey, even over 50+ years of reading things slip through the cracks). In Move Under Ground, it' said few years after the publication on On the Road, and Jack Kerouac realizes that Cthulhu its rising. He must journey across America with Neal Cassady and William S. Burroughs to save the world. Lots of crazy Lovecraftian action, Beat narrative, and even some social commentary about the early '60s.
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovecraft and Kerouac, fans of both
Recommended to Tim by: A librarian
When I first finished this book I felt obligated to not like it. Almost as if I wanted to avoid admitting to the talent and dedication to researched that went in to the amazing combination of Lovecraft and Kerouac. At first glance the prose and story seems a bit forced, yes. But after getting through the whole thing and realizing exactly what the author has done, it's very impressive. It's half parody and half tribute. Mamatas set out to write a book of the eldritch with a beatnik rhythm and he ...more
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Nick Mamatas is the author of the Lovecraftian Beat road novel Move Under Ground, which was nominated for both the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild awards, the Civil War ghost story Northern Gothic, also a Stoker nominee, the suburban nighmare novel Under My Roof, and over thirty short stories and hundreds of articles (some of which were collected in 3000 Miles Per Hour in Every Directio ...more
More about Nick Mamatas...