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Action Writing: Jack Kerouac's Wild Form Hardcover – June 28, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


“Michael Hrebeniak has opened up serious issues that are always overlooked—propaganda, Marcuse, Olson’s Human Universe, for starters. Hrebeniak’s assessment that ‘Kerouac’s swirling meditation on memory and recirculation of events’ is a beautiful portal swinging wide. A complete success. Many are waiting to read a work on Jack that will put a modern foundation under the old dharma shack.”—Michael McClure, poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright

“Michael Hrebeniak has written an exceptional book on Jack Kerouac, a book that melds criticism, narrative, and polemic into an entirely new alloy. It’s strange, alive, angry, and yet controlled … a magnificent book.”—Robert Macfarlane, author of Mountains of the Mind

“Michael Hrebeniak’s work is indeed rare, bringing Jack Kerouac’s work into the realm of Western aesthetics, a global arena in which to situate his considerable accomplishment. I don’t know of another scholarly work that goes as far to ground Kerouac’s Legend of Duluoz in such a wide and deep knowledge of world literatures.”—Regina Weinreich, author of The Spontaneous Poetics of Jack Kerouac

About the Author

Michael Hrebeniak teaches at Cranfield and Cambridge universities and is the associate producer of Optic Nerve, an independent film company based in London. His articles have appeared in the Guardian, the Observer, and the Times Literary Supplement. He is also the editor of Radical Poetics.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press; 1st edition (June 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809326949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809326945
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,983,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
That Michael Hrebeniak knows his material is undeniable. That he is also part of the forces of academia and publicity that he explains plagued Jack Kerouac is also undeniable. That he is unaware of this irony is likely also undeniable, given that he never mentions it. This irony runs through Action Writing: Jack Kerouac's Wild Form, as Hrebeniak talks about how beats, like Kerouac, disliked the way academia and popular culture seized their works, and those of their predecessors. Works that once fought against society become common topics in the dominant culture, and the subject of academic works like this book.

In a way, Action Writing: Jack Kerouac's Wild Form is not original as a book, being like any academic paper, made of a whole string of closely packed quotes from previous efforts of others and the novels it discusses. That it reveals the interrelated nature of those works, as influences of Kerouac's style is Hrebeniak's true purpose. However, he spends little time explaining these references, meaning that readers will need background in various areas, such as the books and philosophers mentioned within. I will personally point out that the fellaheen mentioned frequently are simply the Egyptian peasant class. What exactly the beats also meant in mentioning them is not directly stated, any more than the word origin I mentioned.

This book would be best used in a classroom setting, where the general subject area can be covered, in terms of beat writings and American history. It is not meant to teach the reader how to emulate Kerouac's style of action writing, meaning only to contextualize it, and compare it to its times and peers.
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