The Town and the City (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 3 Feb 2000
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About the Author
The author of a number of a hugely influential and popular novels - including ON THE ROAD and DHARMA BUMS - Jack Kerouac is remembered as one of the key figures of the legendary Beat generation.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book can be read as a largely autobiographical account of Kerouac's life, with each of the Martin sons representing alternative parts of himself, his feelings, thoughts and personality. Alternatively, the reader can lose themselves in the lives of the Martin family without concerning themselves with the real or the elaborated.
Kerouac reaches the reader with soaring, descriptive writing, which transform the mundane and everyday into feelings and emotions which describe the things you've always thought and felt but could never articulate into words...
"He was sick now with a crying lonesomeness, he somehow knew that all moments were farewell, all life was goodbye."
Kerouac himself describes the book as, "The sum of myself as far as the written word can go." The great American novel? Possibly, but this book is definately an essential for all Kerouac fans, people who have ever wondered what somebody else was thinking and all those who have raged on into the lonely night looking for an 'angelheaded hipster' to give them meaning.
The novel is based on small town America, and chronicles the life of what to Jack would have been an average American family, in the years upto and during the second world war. It is also full of personal observations of Jack's life, for those who want to know more about the writer. To us in the UK it is more like a history lesson, and a chance to glimpse what living in America used to be like before McDonalds strode across the world.
If you like stories that deal with relationships of you will like it, I promise you.
In The Town and the City, Kerouac attempted to create his ‘Great American novel‘. Arguably, he was successful, but I’m not bothered about titles like that – to me, it’s just a fantastic piece of work in its own right, a little long perhaps but well worth persevering through.
To begin with, I’ll admit that it is plagued a little bit by that nemesis of every sweeping novel before it – there are so many characters that it’s difficult to tell them apart, to begin with. It doesn’t help that they’re all from the same family either, but you do get to know them over time; I’d argue that if anything, that ends up as a good thing overall, because it means that you can re-read it and gain a better appreciation and understanding the second time round.
It’s also one of those books in which nothing seems to happen over a long period of time, but that’s the mastery that the writer is showing here – time doesn’t seem to drag, and the characters do develop even while nothing much is changing around them. Anyone can create character growth out of deaths and diseases, but it takes one hell of a writer to create it from conversations and exposition.
In fact, I’d argue that this is one of Kerouac’s better works – perhaps not his best (after all, I’m not crazy), but it’s still pretty damn good read, and an impressive debut novel from a man who would later become a legend.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A real life-changer for me. Full of fantastic quotes. The first section takes a bit of getting through but then it's incredible!Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
Kerouac, the man and the author, is often accused of many things by detractors, ranging from a poor/sloppy writing style, to emotional immaturity, not being a 'proper' authority on... Read morePublished on 10 Mar. 2011 by Sebastian Palmer
Despite reading this many years ago, this novel has stood out in my mind as one of Kerouac's best. It's almost certainly his most underated as the author himself later disowned the... Read morePublished on 18 Oct. 2010 by Paul Harris
Jack kerouac would have made a great film director if he ever had the inclination. The first half dozen pages of the book read like a tracking shot at the beginning of a movie -... Read morePublished on 24 April 2009 by Jeremy Persaud