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138 Western American Literature She is not a lonely object in creation, but the marrow of the creative process itself and her self-knowledge comes not from “raids on the inarticulate” but from a planting and cultivation of the unconscious which she sees as neither hostile nor friendly — it is fertile ground and that is enough. CLEM RAWLINS, Cora, Wyoming TH E KEROUA C BOOM The Beat Generation. By Bruce Cook. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971. 248 pages, out of print.) Kerouac: A Biography. By Ann Charters. (New York: Warner Books, 1974. 419 pages, photographs, $2.50.) Visions of Kerouac, The Life of Jack Kerouac. By Charles E. Jarvis. (Lowell, Massachusetts: Ithaca Press, 1973. x + 235 pages, $4.95.) Jack Kerouac, Prophet of the New Romanticism. By Robert A. Hipkiss. (Lawrence: The Regents Press of Kansas, 1976. ix + 150 pages, $10.50.) Naked Angels: The Lives and Literature of the Beat Generation. By John Tytell. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976. 273 pages, photographs, $10.00 hardcover; $3.95 paperback.) Jack’s Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac. By Barry Gifford and Lawrence Lee. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978. xii + 339 pages, photographs, $10.95 hardcover; $4.50 Penguin paperback.) Jack Kerouac. By Harry Russell Huebel. (Boise: Boise State University, 1979. 48 pages, $2.50.) Boise State University Western Writers Series, Number 39. Desolate Angel: A Biography of Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America. By Dennis McNally. (New York: Random House, 1979. xii + 400 pages, photographs, $15.00.) In the eleven years since Jack Kerouac’s death, more than a dozen books dealing with his life and work have been published, and the trend shows no sign of decreasing. It has been augmented by Barry Gifford’s Kerouac’s Town and Carolyn Cassady’s Heart Beat (previously reviewed in WAL), by the 1979 film Heart Beat, and by rumors of the filming of On the Road, for which Francis Ford Coppola holds the option. Virtually all of Kerouac’s novels have been reprinted during the 1970s, including the long-unavailable Desolation Angels and Big Sur, the latter novel part of a Kerouac series from the London publisher Panther-Granada. This sudden revival of interest in the man once tabbed “King of the Beats” is anomalous because of the Essay Reviews 139 neglect that he suffered in the sixties, at a time when his purported counter­ culture descendants were most numerous. To speak of a Kerouac revival is to ask a puzzling question: why now? Only part of the contemporary fascination for Kerouac can be attributed to his sudden and well-publicized death at age forty-seven of the consequences of alcoholism, and only in superficial respects does the decade of the seven­ ties resemble that of the fifties when he wrote a majority of his novels. It is less the revolt against conformity of the Beats that is apparently attractive to those reading Kerouac today than it is their wild enthusiasms, their quest for raw experience, and their dedicated belief that it was somehow possible to merge life and art that account for their new appeal. And although Kerouac was in most respects the most conservative of the group that he named the Beats, it is nevertheless Kerouac’s writing that best represents the stylistic experimentation and the confessional impulses that characterize much of their work. Kerouac’s lasting contribution is likely to be his method rather than what originally attracted attention, the subject matter of his sixteen auto­ biographical novels. The fictional method that he called “spontaneous bop prosody” was the attempt to liberate the unconscious by allowing the mind to free-associate onto the notorious rolls of teletype paper that Kerouac was reputed to use in his marathon bursts of writing. On the model of the improvisational jazz musician and the action painter, the writer was to compose innocently, without imposed structure or second-thought revisions. “Satisfy yourself first,” said Kerouac, “then reader cannot fail to receive telepathic shock and meaning-excitement by same laws operating in his own human mind.” This naive trust in the possibility of a direct author-reader linkage as the major function of literature was a direct assault...


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