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Via Anecdotal Evidence, a demolition of the Cult of Kerouac in Another Side of Paradise by Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple):


He led a tormented life, and I cannot help but feel sadness for a would-be rebel who spent most of his life, as did Kerouac, living at home with his mother. He also drank himself to a horrible death. But while it is true that most great writers were tormented souls, it does not follow that most tormented souls were great writers. To call Kerouac’s writing mediocre is to do it too much honor: its significance is sociological rather than literary. The fact that his work is now being subjected to near-biblical levels of reverential scholarship is a sign of very debased literary and academic standards.

I have seen some of the most mediocre minds of my generation destroyed by too great an interest in the Beats.

Readers Comments

  1. Better destroyed by that than bigotry and writing pompous rubbish for neo-fascist rags.

  2. And I thought I was the only person in the world that wasn't a Kerouac fan...

  3. Agree with you, Steve, that Daniels/Dalrymple is bad and evil! Indeed, I should have said so above (I remember not long since leaving a comment on the Anecotal Evidence blog -- which I like very much despite blogger Patrick Kurp's political imbecility -- bemoaning its attachment to Dalrymple). But I liked this swipe at Kerouac and I do think that Kerouac was a very poor writer. Important culturally, yes, but a dreadful writer -- as were most Beats actually. I remember reading Beat Scene magazine for many years because I liked the idea of Beat/Cult writing (and I actively liked Bukowski, Fante and Brautigan who get lumped alongside) and each issue I was astonished by how bad most of the writing that was being lauded actually was.

  4. Well I agree with him and you about the Beats.

  5. Can't really say because I only read Kerouac years ago and his work never spoke to me personally or thought of more of a "legend" figure, than someone I wo. And there was so much other truly great writing from his period that didn't receive the same press because those writers didn't display his antics--I wouldn't return to to appreciate as a writer But right or wrong about him, it seemed like a terribly nasty comment and very rigid one at that from Anthony Daniels.

    A dear friend of mine kind of adopted Jan Kerouac, Jack's daughter, whom he abandoned just about at birth (and her mother, his wife) and apparently Jan only met Jack a few times when he was giving his "readings" soused. To me, he was sort this "Star" where the gossip around him is often more interesting than his actual books. So I thought I'd like link to my friend's excellent radio piece about Jan Kerouac and it includes memories of Jack, struggles with the whole beat legacy in fact,
    http://hearingvoices.com/stories.php?fID=40&fidType=producer

  6. whoops, sorry, forgot to add more link details. The program was called: Jan & Jack Kerouac by Marjorie Van Halteren, http://hearingvoices.com/stories.php?fID=40&fidType=producer

    A father-daughter dialog: Jack Kerouac’s daughter Jan, reads her an ode to her rarely seen dad; intertwined with Kerouac’s speeches and prose. "

  7. To all those who love Jack Kerouac – 2008 New Documentary
    One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur. http://www.kerouacfilms.com

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