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The Town and the City (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 3 Feb 2000

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (3 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182230
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.


Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
The Town And The City tracks the lives of the Martin family (5 sons and 3 daughters) growing up, living loving and discovering themselves, the world and others in the small town of Galloway in Massachusetts in the early 1900's. From the football star, to the lonely scholar, to the forever wandering heartbreaker of a truck driver, Kerouac deals with each of the siblings separately, describing their very different lives and in doing so, gives us the readers, a glimpse into each of their souls.
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.
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By A Customer on 17 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
Oddly enough, and against poplular criticism, I feel that by far this is Kerouac's best book. Rather than the 'travelogues' of his later work (which I don't mean to denigrate--they are spectacular), this is a thought out, true 'novel'. I've felt ever since I read it years ago that if he would have continued in this vein he'd be right up there with Hemingway et al, instead of a genre writer. Not that he was a mere 'genre writer' mind you. Without giving away any plot, the scene with his father at the end is the only thing I have ever in my life read that moved me to tears. There are hints of his later style as the book moves on, but the pure emotion, the feeling...he never equaled this book, and I think that affected the rest of his work. A true masterpiece; a couple of more like this and he'd have won a Nobel Prize. Just an amazing book.
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Format: Paperback
Before there ever was the Beat generation there was Jack trying to write. This is a book which proves to those who claim that Kerouac couldn't write properly that he was a capable writer. His prose is excellent and the characterisations lack the weirdness of his later novels.
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
If I’d read this cold, without knowing who the author was, I don’t think I’d ever have come up with Jack Kerouac. Knowing him as I do primarily from On the Road and the Beats in general, I was astonished to discover this wonderful traditional novel, a real masterpiece of American writing, a contender for The Great American Novel, and a real joy which kept me enthralled from beginning to end. It’s the timeless story of a small-town Massachusetts family, the Martin family, from the early years of the 1900s to the troubled post-World War II era. It’s a large family, with 5 sons, all of whom in some way represent Kerouac himself, for this is very much an autobiographical coming-of-age novel. However, you don’t need to know anything about Kerouac to relish this long, rambling family saga, as the writing is so good and compelling that I don’t see how any reader could fail to be carried away by it. The characterisation is excellent, observant and perceptive, the dialogue convincing, the descriptions as vivid as though you’re watching a film, and the atmosphere spot-on. You feel as though you are there – at the ball game, at Thanksgiving, at Christmas – all the rituals of American family life. And then we see the war, and the seamy underbelly of New York, where life is raw and sometimes desperate. Life is certainly no idealised sweet dream, although there are moments of deep joy, and a persistent thread of sadness and nostalgia runs through the novel. I closed it with a new respect for Kerouac as a writer and a deeper understanding of him as a man. Excellent.
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Format: Paperback
This is Kerouac as you’ve never seen him before. The Town and the City is his debut novel, and he wrote it long before he developed his trademark stream-of-consciousness style – here we see a different man entirely, a more thoughtful and introverted spirit who nevertheless shows plenty of signs of the potential that he eventually lived up to.

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.
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