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Book of Blues Paperback – September 1, 1995


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Book of Blues + Mexico City Blues: 242 Choruses
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140587004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140587005
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The form of these eight long, previously unpublished poems written between 1954 and 1961, is, Kerouac writes, "limited by the small page of the breastpocket notebook in which they were written." Each poem is actually a series of "blues choruses," and they leap with drunkenly self-centered themes and wordplay, laced with some vivid, subjective observations of street scenes, as in Canto Uno of "MacDougal Street Blues": "I mean sincerely/ naive sailors buying prints/ Women with red banjos/ On their handbags... They don't even listen to me when/ I try to tell them they will die." Girls, nonsense and the craft of writing are topics that figure prominently. Like all of Kerouac's work, these choruses live or die with the poet's enthusiasm, sometimes sunk in navel-gazing, sometimes stunning in their inspired leaps between images or thoughts. They beg to be read aloud and, like the jazz they are meant to reflect, some sections really swing while others are just keeping time.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Kerouac's poetry is oddly appealing, even when it isn't very good, which is often in this collection of "blues"?sequences of song-poems rooted in urban locales that range from San Francisco to Mexico City. The given limitation of each short poem is the size of a page in the poet's tiny notebook; in each sequence, a thread is carried over from one poem to the next, like song verses or diary entries interrupted by drink or sleep. Best known, of course, for his 1957 novel, On the Road, Kerouac always seems to be on the move. From the Bowery to Mexico City, he sketches what he sees: his vision is permeated with booze, suffering, and an admirable drive to get it all down on paper. His faith in the redemptive act of writing is particularly refreshing at this time of conservative backlash against the arts. These previously unpublished poems annoy and amuse and occasionally relax into beauty: "And raindrops/that don't know/You've been deceived/Slide on iron/Raggedly gloomy." For subject collections.?Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), the central figure of the Beat Generation, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922 and died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969. Among his many novels are On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, and Visions of Cody.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
Kerouac's Book of Blues is an important book for anyone interested in Kerouac's spontaneous style of writing. For those more familiar with his novels and prose Book of Blues will open a more pure and raw form of verse than even "On the Road". Kerouac was truly a poet at heart. To get the full effect of this book which reaaly needs to be read aloud to full experience I also highly recommend Kerouac's Blues & Haikus CD which contains him reading several of the poems in Book of Blues.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 9, 1998
Format: Paperback
Book of Blues is an important piece of writing that chronicles an important time in Kerouac's life and works well with Desolation Angels. As I read Desolation Angels, I noticed that Jack Duluoz makes references to various works of poetry as he moves through the book and Book of Blues contains many of those poems. Desolation Blues was written about his time on Desolation Peak and accompanies that section of the book well. You begin to understand Jack's thoughts and anxities better. Later Jack is in Mexico City writing Mexico City Blues but he also wrote Orizabo(I believe) at the same time, at least according to Desolation Angels. Orizabo Blues can be seen as the outakes or the preparaton from Mexico City Blues. Later on in the book, Jack Duluoz is back in Mexico City after his trip to Europe and during these times he wrote Cerrera Medellin blues. Other Blues not included in Book of Blues though mentioned in Desolatioin Angels are Washington, D.C. Blues and Tangier Blues which have yet to be published. Book of Blues is an important book to the Kerouac canon.
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By Alfred Johnson on September 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
Some of the general points made below have been used in other reviews of books and materials by and about Jack Kerouac.

"As I have explained in another entry in this space in a DVD review of the film documentary "The Life And Times Of Allen Ginsberg", recently I have been in a "beat" generation literary frame of mind. I think it helps to set the mood for commenting on Jack Kerouac's lesser non-prose work, the poems under review here, "Book Of Blues" that it all started last summer when I happened to be in Lowell, Massachusetts on some personal business. Although I have more than a few old time connections with that now worn out mill town I had not been there for some time. While walking in the downtown area I found myself crossing a small park adjacent to the site of a well-known mill museum and restored textile factory space. Needless to say, at least for any reader with a sense of literary history, at that park I found some very interesting memorial stones inscribed with excerpts from a number of his better known works dedicated to Lowell's `bad boy', the "king of the 1950s beat writers".

And, just as naturally, when one thinks of Kerouac then, "On The Road", his classic modern physical and literary `search' for the meaning of America for his generation which came of age in post-World War II , readily comes to mind. No so well known, however, is the fact that that famous youthful novel was merely part of a much grander project, an essentially autobiographical exposition by Kerouac in many volumes starting from his birth in 1922, to chart and vividly describe his relationship to the events, great and small, of his times. Those volumes bear the general title "The Legend Of Duluoz".
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By Ron Whitaker on August 8, 2014
Format: Paperback
Love it ! A++
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