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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Tuesday 04 September 2007

Kerouac: just say no!

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.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Reader Comments

Tuesday 04 September 2007

Stephen Mitchelmore says...

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

Tuesday 04 September 2007

Kirsty says...

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

Tuesday 04 September 2007

Mark says...

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.

Tuesday 04 September 2007

Stephen Mitchelmore says...

Well I agree with him and you about the Beats.

Wednesday 05 September 2007

Edward Mycue says...

when i first read Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND in 1957 when i was 20 it was a bomburst. and i read HOWL and ON THE ROAD and thought they were so fresh and honest. I was also crazy abt Amis' LUCKY JIM and Joyce Carey's THE HORSE'S MOUTH. i still have the memory as if it just happened. these were the eisenhower years here in the usa (and north texas state where i studied). i had started out with gertrude stein, then laura riding, then w.b.yeats as my masters in 1955 at arlington state college nearer dallas, texas. but none of them could pull my daisy quite like kerouac and ginsberg and ferlinghetti then. the latter is still alive and well here in san francisco where i have live the last 4 decades. here i met and loved robert duncan, george oppen, raymond carver, josephine miles and many more. ferlinghetti rules here and we love him. so did david gasgoyne who i met here when lawrence published a collected of his. and here lawrence fixel (his THE BOOK OF GLIMMERS was published by menard press 1979)the philosopher poet also reigned until his death at 86 four years ago, and dear carl rakosi who died at 100 3 years ago. we love the beats and don't think they clog our mental arteries. the some don't exclude another some. no soviet-style erasures. later larkin joined these writers along with a growing/glowing crowd. but the new ones didn't replace the gusher of stars in my pantheon of lovely writers. edward mycue

Wednesday 05 September 2007

Leora Skolkin-Smith says...

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,;=producer

Wednesday 05 September 2007

Leora Skolkin-Smith says...

whoops, sorry, forgot to add more link details. The program was called: Jan & Jack Kerouac by Marjorie Van Halteren,;=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. "

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Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
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-- Louise Gluck
Averno (Carcanet Press)

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