2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful biography of iconic writer,
This review is from: Kerouac: The Definitive Biography (Hardcover)
The thing which surprised me about this biography is its sheer length. It's over 500 pages, which is pretty good going even in the wordy genre of literary biography. However, thanks to Paul Maher's passion for his subject and his journalistic skill it makes for fascinating reading and I hardly skipped a paragraph.
Maher claims his main motivation for writing this life is that he shares Kerouac's home town of Lowell, Massachusetts. It's all the more surprising then that the tome doesn't really hit its stride until he starts describing the author's decision to leave for NY and start writing his epic adventure, "On the Road". Maher is particularly skilled at describing the creative process, perhaps one of the hardest aspect of a writer's life to capture.
Kerouac emerges as a complex and contradictory character, who craved solititude but was famed for his beat lifestyle and drinking binges and as someone who sought refuge in living with his mother but refused to recognise his own daughter. There is a wonderful, poignant contrast between Kerouac's early days trying to get published and his subsequent descent into alcoholism as he tries to avoid tabloid notoriety.
This book makes other biographies of Kerouac look rather puny. Maher has cemented his own place in US literature with this work and I look forward to his future projects.