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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An essential read to understanding the genesis of his work., 16 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Selected Letters: 1940-56 (Paperback)
Much has been made about Kerouac's philosophy of spontaneous prose. The immediacy of it's impact. It's flawed honesty. The sheer weight of his all-too-real emotion as it flowed out of him and stained the page. Like Van Gogh, Kerouac was an artist who did not concern himself with "sentimental melancholy" but looked to express the true sorrow and joy of his life in his works. These letters are a vital piece of the Kerouac puzzle, fore they show us the genesis of the man's method and style. From his early emulation of novelist Thomas Wolfe, through his meeting of first Allan Ginsburg, who was really more of an intellectual influence than a literary one, and subequently, William Burroughs, and Neal Cassady. It was Cassady's influence that was paramount to Kerouac's creation of his style, and in his letters to Neal, we are shown first hand how Jack sought to withold nothing, to seek out the details of living. These letters are startling in their honesty and emotion. They reveal a man who sought not only a vision of and for himself, but for the rest of us living, dead, and unborn. Maybe he was uncomfortable in his own skin, maybe he couldn't cut the apron strings that bound and stunted him emotionally to his mother, but these letters prove the essentialness of the artist in this world. Those souls like Kerouac who sought to express the unknown, that the reasons for why we all go on living in this world where "all life is suffering," outweigh the reasons why we should just give up and not live at all. Jack may have suffered too much, smoked too much, and drank himself to an early, lonesome grave, but he left behind works of beauty and sadness that changed the landscape of modern literature, whose directionless direction sought the innocent, lost heart in many of us. Like Jack said, one must "live, travel, adventure, bless and don't be sorry."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I dig this book, 21 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Selected Letters: 1940-56 (Paperback)
If one wants to dig deep into kerouac then this is how. Everything begins to form from reading this. You find Jack inside yourself screaming to come out. You hear his voice and feel his every tear, smile, and high that he has felt. I recommend this to anyone who wants to take a risk in believing in someone with different views then we have today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth it for the "full confession of my life", 4 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Selected Letters: 1940-56 (Paperback)
Frankly, I found most of this boring. It seems Kerouac was a compulsive letter writer in all states of mind, and some of these read like the ramblings of a drunken bore. But there is a 170-odd page section, starting in 1950, when he writes to Neal Cassady "the time has come for me to write a full confession of my life to you." It is some of the best writing he ever did, the first birth of his "spontaneous prose" his apotheosis as a writer just a few months before he began "On the Road". It's like discovering his artistic DNA. And as for spontaneity, these letters reveal just how many versions and rewrites there really were of "On the Road."
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Selected Letters: 1940-56
Selected Letters: 1940-56 by Jack Kerouac (Paperback - 27 Jun. 1996)
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