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Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, Vol. 1, 1940-1956 Paperback – March 1, 1996


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Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, Vol. 1, 1940-1956 + Kerouac: Selected Letters: Volume 2: 1957-1969 + Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Thus edition (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140234446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140234442
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jack Kerouac is one of America's most influential literary figures. On the Road begot the Beat Generation, which ushered in the hippie movement, then free love, then drugs and so on and so on. Yet the real Kerouac bore little resemblance to this enduring image as an open-road rebel and spokesman of the Beats. He was a lover of women and wine, all right, but also a sad, confused romantic who longed for acceptance and often viewed life with a child's perspective. By capturing his emotions in his personal writings, Selected Letters helps shed light on a figure who was as troubled as he was rebellious.

From Publishers Weekly

Commencing during his student years at Columbia and leaving off just prior to the publication of On the Road, these letters document Kerouac's apprentice years as an aspiring young writer.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Much has been made about Kerouac's philosophy of spontaneous prose. The immediacy of it's impact. It's flawed honesty. The sheer weight of his all-too-real emotion as it flowed out of him and stained the page. Like Van Gogh, Kerouac was an artist who did not concern himself with "sentimental melancholy" but looked to express the true sorrow and joy of his life in his works. These letters are a vital piece of the Kerouac puzzle, fore they show us the genesis of the man's method and style. From his early emulation of novelist Thomas Wolfe, through his meeting of first Allan Ginsburg, who was really more of an intellectual influence than a literary one, and subequently, William Burroughs, and Neal Cassady. It was Cassady's influence that was paramount to Kerouac's creation of his style, and in his letters to Neal, we are shown first hand how Jack sought to withold nothing, to seek out the details of living. These letters are startling in their honesty and emotion. They reveal a man who sought not only a vision of and for himself, but for the rest of us living, dead, and unborn. Maybe he was uncomfortable in his own skin, maybe he couldn't cut the apron strings that bound and stunted him emotionally to his mother, but these letters prove the essentialness of the artist in this world. Those souls like Kerouac who sought to express the unknown, that the reasons for why we all go on living in this world where "all life is suffering," outweigh the reasons why we should just give up and not live at all. Jack may have suffered too much, smoked too much, and drank himself to an early, lonesome grave, but he left behind works of beauty and sadness that changed the landscape of modern literature, whose directionless direction sought the innocent, lost heart in many of us. Like Jack said, one must "live, travel, adventure, bless and don't be sorry."
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Having read most all of Kerouac's published work, reading this book is like finding the keys to the locks. Jack's and other letters provide deep insights into his life, his feelings and all that followed into Jack's novels, poems and stories. Much more than a diary, this book serves almost as reference material for reading his other works. The letters pre-On The Road and post-Big Sur, opens up your eyes to the life he was leading, it is here that you see the fluid motion of his life falling into his work. A must have for any JK bookshelve.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
If one wants to dig deep into kerouac then this is how. Everything begins to form from reading this. You find Jack inside yourself screaming to come out. You hear his voice and feel his every tear, smile, and high that he has felt. I recommend this to anyone who wants to take a risk in believing in someone with different views then we have today.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bill Kelly on August 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
A fantastic gorp into Kerouac and his 'real' life and the many spontaneous voices that make his dreams. As you read these letters listen to the different tones he gives to those most important in his life ... Sabastian Sampas (boyhood best friend), Gabriella Kerouac (anchor Mom), Allen Ginsberg (understanding friend), William S. Burroughs (adventure friend), Neil Cassady (challenging boyfriend), Stella Sampas (wife subsequently), Carolyn Cassady (complicated :). It is all here! Jack's words bring up the truth about questions that still are not answered today as we go to the 'world of tomorrow'. Buy this to hear it direct from Jack.
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