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Mexico City Blues: 242 Choruses Paperback – January 12, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reissue edition (January 12, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802130607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802130600
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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-- Table of Poems from Poem Finder®

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.

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Customer Reviews

Oh ho ho, it's still good, still enjoyable: I enjoy it.
Amazon Customer
He combines a love for made-up words and language as pure sound with a lyrical directness that you find more often in pop songs than modern poetry.
Arch Llewellyn
If you've read and enjoyed "On the Road" or "The Dharma Bums" pick this one up and enjoy.
Charles Pinney

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Arch Llewellyn on February 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
It took me a while to get beyond the Beat myth and see these poems for what they are--some of the most joyful, goofy and affecting writings of the last century. Jack wrote all 242 choruses--one per notebook page--over six weeks in 1955. His improvised word-jazz was at its peak; the poems are fresh and spontaneous but rarely sloppy (try it yourself if you don't believe me). The Buddhist leanings are a little simple-minded, but simplicity is part of the point. In layout and verbal inventiveness Jack's more experimental than most poets writing today. He combines a love for made-up words and language as pure sound with a lyrical directness that you find more often in pop songs than modern poetry. Hearing Jack read some of these on the Steve Allen record made me realize how rare a thing his poems achieved: sentiment, experiment, tenderness, peace. A moving companion to On the Road.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Charles Pinney on April 7, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jack Kerouac wanted to be known as a jazz poet and with this poem he proves that he is. Mexico City Blues is one of my favorite Kerouac books and a lot of fun to read.
The 242 Choruses are free-spirited and spontaneous, almost like they've been written just before you turn the page. If you've read and enjoyed "On the Road" or "The Dharma Bums" pick this one up and enjoy.
A little Miles Davis, John Coltrane, or Charlie Parker playing in the background will add a whole new dimension. Sweet.
"..Fifty pesos
3 Cheers Forever
It's beautiful to be comfortable
Nirvana here I am.."
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on June 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
I remember when I first stumbled across this book in the early 90's- it was like Christmas came twice that year. You see, I had thought that I had read absolutely everything published by Kerouac, prose and poem. I didn't know this existed, Wow! It is like one long, magnificent blues or jazz riff of the written word. It is a true blues composition because it has genuine soul. The more I think about it, it just might be the best thing that he ever did.
I know this is going to sound outrageous, but the only comparable book of American poetry I can even think of comparing this to would be Whitman's _Leaves of Grass_. Whitman and Kerouac both sang of the same grass roots, mystical, America. And it's still out there, if you shake your mind free of the preconceptions and the [junk]....
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Mexico City Blues shocked and moved me. The freedom with which Kerouac takes his writing, inventing words and splattering images, envys me as an aspiring poet. I have tried to imitate his style but finally realized that only Jack can write like Jack. The poems contained on these pages are some of the greatest I have ever read and reading them is like slowly devouring an entire banquet.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have been a Kerouac fan for a long time, but it was a couple of years after reading most his novels that I was able to get into his poetry. "Pomes all sizes", for example, sat unread on my bookshelf for some time. "Mexico City Blues" is what really turned me on to his poetry and made me able to appreciate it. I was able to go back and read his other petry with new eyes. This book is fantastic. Read it out loud to yrself, the man had a natural knack for rhythm. Great book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "mreb" on September 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
a mix of cultures... musical styles.. not to say of alcohol, morphine, etc... Jack fell sick on his trip to Mexico city, and he's looking for healing, salvation- i believe he found it, with all the shots of morphine he received at the hospital , with the mexican pulque and tequilla , and other substances .. regardless it is a masterpiece of poetry. play some "bird" in the background and enjoy!
"And I am only an Apache -- Smoking Ashy -- In Old Cabashy -- By the Lamp!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
Kerouac wrote his volume of poetry "Mexico City Blues" during the summer of 1955 while living in Mexico City. During this time, he also wrote his sad and still underappreciated short novel, "Tristessa" Tristessa [TRISTESSA] [Paperback]. "Mexico City Blues" had a difficult history. Kerouac's friend, Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Press, rejected the book for publication in 1956. In 1959, Grove Press published the work. Then, in November, 1959, the poet Kenneth Rexroth published a devastatingly critical review titled "Discordant and Cool" in the New York Times. Rexroth wrote: "Mr. Kerouac's Buddha is a dime-store incense burner, glowing and glowering sinisterly in the dark corner of a Beatnik pad and just thrilling the wits out of bad little girls." Rexroth concluded his review with mocking irony: It's all there, the terrifyingly skillful use of verse, the broad knowledge of life, the profound judgments, the almost unbearable sense of reality.I've always wondered whatever happened to those wax-work figures in the old rubberneck dives in Chinatown. Now we know; at least one of them writes books."

For all its weaknesses, "Mexico City Blues" has survived its publication history and Rexroth's criticism. The book continues to be read, discussed, argued about, and taught. "Mexico City Blues" is a collection of 242 short poems, each of which is titled simply as a numbered "Chorus". Kerouac wanted to write poetry in the style of the jazz and bop music he loved; and in this he for the most part succeeded. He wrote at the outset of the book:

"I want to be considered a jazz poet
blowing a long blues in an afternoon jam
session on Sunday.
Read more ›
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