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Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  384 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
More than forty years after the publication of On the Road, Jack Kerouac is more widely read and revered by a new generation than ever before. Why this is so is the subject of Barry Miles's fresh and revealing portrait of the writer who is the acknowledged leader of the Beats, the group of writers that included Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Gary Snyd ...more
Paperback, 332 pages
Published December 15th 1999 by Holt Paperbacks (first published May 21st 1998)
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Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a really good biography in that it was well-researched, thorough, annotated, interesting and honest. Miles did his homework and also consulted valuable primary sources such as Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, themselves. He also included fair criticism of Kerouac's writing which made me more interested to read some of the works that I have overlooked. That being said, parts of this book were very difficult to read. Although I'm always irritated with writers who canonize Kerouac ...more
Nov 30, 2007 added it
Shelves: thisyear
Most overrated writer/movement ever? Maybe. These guys are just fuck-ups. Silver spoon kids (mostly) with really high IQs, who lacked work ethic, self control, and integrity/morals. Why do people suck off the Beats so much? Is it because they did so many drugs? Wow. Super. Is it because they all slept with each other and homosexuality is interesting and cool? Fuck off. Is it because they went on road trips? I went on a road trip. Is it because Kerouac wanted to fuck his mom and Oedipus complexes ...more
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Pretty brutal look at a tortured soul.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
David Rullo
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barry Miles presents a warts and all biography of the Beat Generation's most famous novelist. In fact, Miles biography, while 100% correct and 100% accurate, is the most negative or realist biography I've read of Kerouac and I think I've read them all.

Let's face it, Kerouac was never the man people thought and still he was. In his later years he was conservative, racist, an alcoholic, isolated by his lifestyle and the way he treated people and a horrible father. Miles doesn't hide any of this f
Johannes Hadi
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
i wanted to know the person behind the icon before picking up any of Kerouac's books and this book did well to bring me up to speed on the Beat Generation and all its accompanying ideals - literary and philosophical.

author was highly objective in his portraiture of the man (read: harshly critical) and to be frank, i don't have a very good impression of Kerouac after reading this book. am possibly more curious about his contemporaries like Ginsberg or Burroughs. also, i am a massive Bukowski fan
Simon Powell
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very well written, but a book I found hard to read at times, if only because the subject comes across as such a turd of a man, especially in the treatment of his daughter. However, it is not just about the artist, but the art as well, and the author is fair and balanced, praising the good stuff, constructively criticising the bad and spending some time analysing the place of Kerouac in modern American literature, not just as a Beat writer.

Essential for anyone interested in Kerouac or any of the
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
I was obsessed with Kerouac during my first two years of high school. I reread this book a couple years ago and generally enjoyed it but not with the same feeling of admiration for the man that I had at 15.

A well done biography nonetheless.
Kerouac was a worse guy than I realized. And his mom was a real ballbuster.

An entertaining biography of a reprehensible human being who showed flashes of incredible literary talent.
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
I found this to be a brutal look at the famous writer of On The Road and an interesting insight into his works beyond that. It doesn't encourage you to pursue his works.
Apr 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Pretty dry bio...I'm going to look for a more fun bio to read. I love Kerouac, and Miles kind of drags him in the dust.
Rachel Skye
Update as of later.
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Certainly ruins your image of Kerouac as the cool and lovable mofo but incredibly interesting nonetheless
Kelsey Collier-wise
Jul 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting and complete biography. The author doesn't really seem to like Kerouac as a person and honestly, after reading the book, neither did I.
Mar 27, 2011 added it
Jack Kerouac was a fucking asshole, man.
Chris King
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating study of one very,very complex man.
Chuck Grinnell
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Author of several books and biographies, most pertaining to musicians and the sixties.

Miles has written biographies of Paul McCartney, The Beatles, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Frank Zappa, Charles Bukowski and Allen Ginsberg, in addition to books on John Lennon, The Beatles and The Clash.

He is occasionally inaccurately credited as "Miles Mabbett" due to his co-authoring a book with Andy Mabb
More about Barry Miles...

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