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Visions of Cody Paperback – August 1, 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'His most ambitious novel. An opportunity to sample the tenderness, richness and vibrancy of his writing.' New Statesman 'It is easy enough for us now to read the distress of America in the movies and novels of the Fifties, to see the panic and disarray behind the cosy fictions. But Kerouac read it then, when the Fifties had scarcely started. His best work is always elegiac, a mourning for something vanished before it has even properly arrived.' New Society '"Visions of Cody" recreates Cody's world in a series of epiphanies, all recorded with the expansive lyricism of a Whitman whose America has reached the end of the road. It is at once an epitaph and a rhapsodic celebration of the American Beat world.' TLS --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140179070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140179071
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Most readers come to know Kerouac through On the Road. Those who develop a relationship with his work invariably point to Visions of Cody as the one that hooked them for life. While the plotting and structure aren't nearly as sound as On the Road, this isn't exactly a novel. More like a rambling, poetic love letter to a period in Kerouac's life that was quickly slipping away.
Incidentally, Kerouac did not intend for this to be a companion to On the Road. If the author had had it his way, this would have been the definitive version of On the Road.
Most readers agree that the first 150 pages is by far the best writing in this book. Read this section, even if you put the book down for good afterward. These 150 pages are pure, loose, and brilliant. Kerouac sketching unequaled by any other part of his oeuvre.
As with all Kerouac books, this one has its faults. The middle 200 pages are overwrought and self-indulgent. But that can be said of most of Kerouac's work. The tape transcripts are important reading if you want a first-hand account of the dynamic that existed between Jack and Neal. But this section could have been shortened substantially. Also, for every perfect sentence, there are ten that fall flat--examples of how the spontaneous prose technique had its drawbacks. But no writer is great all the time. And Kerouac's sporadic greatness more than makes up for the notes he doesn't quite hit.
For those new to Kerouac's work, you would be better off reading The Subterraneans first just to get acclamated to the spontaneous prose style. Even then, it will be tough going. But you read Kerouac for more than the storytelling. Faithful Kerouac readers cite the author's inventiveness, his fearlessness, and his unwavering devotion to the written word.
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Yes, at first I thought the tape transcripts were just a lot of useless padding to fill out Jack's book. Boy, was I wrong! Here's how to read them:

1. Get a couple of Charley Parker albums (Bird and Diz will do nicely.)

2. Procure a jug of red wine and a joint.

3. Put on Bird, pour a glass of wine, and just relax with the music for a while.

4. Take a few tokes. Drink more wine. Get a nice mellow buzz.

5. NOW, begin reading the tape transcripts, and voila! You are invited to the party!

You will be sitting there with Cassidy and Kerouac, digging the flow of music and conversation and experiencing a new comprehension of their friends, wives and lovers. The gossip, the stories, the subtle oneupmanship between them is a delicious fly-on-the wall experience. By recreating the set and setting of these long ago conversations, you will experience an intimacy that is uncanny. I've done this a few times and was amazed at the greater understanding I had of these two complicated men. I read and re-read the transcripts with delight and was sorry there wasn't more of them.

This is surely what Kerouac intended. It's like the modern day extras and behind the scenes specials you get on movie DVDs. I mourn their passing more than ever and the fact that there doesn't appear to be anyone out there to take their place.

Ever wonder why Hollywood depictions of the Beats are laughable failures? HERE'S why.

Go now...
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Format: Paperback
The best parts of this book are poetic, sad, exhilarating, and rank with the best of Kerouac. The maddening parts are self-indulgent, repetitive, boring, and sexist. Most of the latter are in the long central section (pages 120-250 of a 400 page book)and consist of transcriptions of tape recordings mostly of Kerouac and Cassady, with a party scene and some other people at times. Some of it is interesting, and some of it is of historical interest, but the rest doesn't need to be there. The book itself is a tribute to Cassady (like much of On the Road) and a lot of the sadness can be attributed to the fact that when it was written, Cassady had settled down to the type of married-with-children-and-a-job life that was what much of Kerouac's writing and adventures on the road were rejecting. Another part of the sadness has to do with the gap between America's promise and America's reality. Kerouac was hardly the first writer to notice this, but there weren't many writers, besides his friends, during the post-war economic boom and the complacency of the McCarthy and Eisenhower 50's who were noticing this. And while many have tried, no one has captured his unique poetic voice and vision. The fact that much of the book is like a long prose poem makes it difficult to read, but in the end, well worth it.
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Format: Paperback
Jack Kerouac (1922 -- 1969) wrote his long, sprawling book "Visions of Cody" in 1951-52, but the book was not published in full until 1972.. The book shows great nostalgia for a lost America of the 1930s and 1940s. The work is a meditation of Kerouac's friend Neal Cassady (1926 -- 1968), who is called Cody Pomeray in this book. Kerouac portrayed Cassady under the name Dean Moriarty in "On the Road". The book is about Kerouac himself as much as it is about Cody and about America.

The book includes much that is wonderful and much that is exasperating. There is no continuous plot but rather a stream of threads influenced by Proust, among other writers. Much of the book is written in a ranting, stream-of-consciousness style that Kerouac later named "spontaneous prose". Sentences and paragraphs often are long and wandering; words are invented or used in strange ways. The book can be highly difficult to follow. The lives of the protagonists and the vision of a past America connect the story.

Kerouac had an extraordinary eye for painstaking description as shown in much of this book. He paints pictures of diverse places that he or Cody knew, such as Lowell, New York City, San Francisco, Denver, Texas, Mexico City, and towns and rural areas of the Midwest. He offers a portrait of intimate streets, jazz clubs, railroads leading everywhere, fast cars on pre-freeway roads, poolhalls, small diners. The book is full of pot, alcohol, and drugs and raw sexual depictions and terms. There are many short, effective character studies. The book also develops idealized, romanticized pictures of the two main characters, Cody and the narrator.
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