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on 14 July 2015
My first introduction to both of the writers, and an excellent start it has been; I even finished it in a single sitting. I especially enjoyed Jack's writing and I look forward to reading of him
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on 6 May 2017
Good quality, came quickly. Great book to read if anyone is looking for something quick and simple. Only bought it because I enjoyed the film Kill Your Darlings.
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on 24 September 2017
Classic Burroughs and Kerouac in their early, more primitive selves.
«Hippos» are hipodermic syringes.
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on 12 March 2017
I am really looking forward to reading this book.
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I am not a big fan of the Beat Generation, apart from the poetry - especialy Allen Ginsberg, but when I first heard that this book was going to be published I thought I must get a copy of this when it comes out in paperback - and now I have. Like a lot of people my age I look at the whole beat phenomenom and think strange, and I have never got into Kerouac's On The Road, the only novel of his that I tried to read but I was interested in what he and Burroughs had written about this infamous murder. Before Burroughs and Kerouac were famous they collaborated in writing this semi-fictional work on the Lucien Carr - David Kammerer case in what can only be described as a crime pulp style.

Writing alternate chapters William Burroughs wrote as Wil Dennison and Jack Kerouac as Mike Ryko they cover the normal day to day activities and events leading up to the murder. These include heavy drinking, getting jobs, women (no lurid descriptions of sex), drug usage etc. Indeed the lives of the characters leading up to the murder, and shortly thereafter. At the time they wrote this they did pass it around different publishing houses but it was never accepted for publication, possibly beacuse it isn't that particularly literary or sensational enough, and also because they were a long way from becoming household names. Nowadays this is more of a period piece showing mid 1940s New York and has a certain novelty factor in todays market - but don't let that put you off.

This book still makes fascinating reading, and those really into the whole Beat Generation or interested in true crime may find this of interest. It is of interest in seeing how two famous authors first started and how their style and technique altered over the years, and how due to them being called as witnesses and later becoming well known this murder still kept rearing its head. There is an excellent afterword by James Grauerholz which helps to place the real names to the characters (I did work out who some of them were only because I knew about the murder anyway), which people really into the Beat Generation will probably know. This isn't a great read, but it does keep you interested and is also a quick read. There is also some great humour - I particularly love the part where they go into a gay bar to have a drink and some sailors who have wandered in are complaining that there are no women (I am not the most observant of people, but I think that even I would know if I had walked into a gay bar). All in all then this isn't great but it is good.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 3 August 2012
If you like Kerouac or Burroughs, or perhaps even both, then I'd say this essential reading. Fascinating just for being a collaboration between the two writers - it's unique for that fact in itself - it's also special in that it predates their fame and success, covering a very interesting time in both their lives and the general American experience.

Set during WWII, with Burroughs' character as a private investigator and Kerouac a merchant seaman, both as per real life, terms like 'gritty realism' or 'hard boiled' spring to mind. It's a tale of urban life, seemingly at the lower end of the social spectrum, despite the middle class roots (or poss more affluent in the case of some) of most of the protagonists.

Based very closely on their real real lives, Burroughs and Kerouac basically retell the story of how one friend of theirs murders another, relating their own parts in the unfolding drama. It's rather sordid in some respects, with a lot of seemingly aimless boozing at apartments and in bars, but nonetheless compelling for the simmering human drama that is bubbling away within the otherwise mundane train of events. And of course a killing changes everything.

The back and forth structure of the chapters, moving between the two erstwhile authors, is actually quite good, flowing well, K & B's styles working in complementary tag-team fashion. By and large the chapters alternate singly, but here and there you get two in a row by one author.

The title is a somewhat misleading example of the typically macabre absurdism associated more with Burroughs than Kerouac. The story itself is a sad affair, revolving around an obsessional homosexual fantasist and the object of his desire, and the tragedy that unfolds around this unrequited infatuation. When one learns more of the facts behind the story, it becomes even more fascinating, and this edition includes excellent additional explanatory material.

Personally I enjoy Kerouac and Burroughs best when they write in their simpler less experimental modes, and most of all when the material is highly personal and autobiographical (e.g. Kerouac's novels The Town & The City and Dr Sax, or Burroughs' Junky). That's what this is, and on top of that it's about sex and death, two of the most compelling subjects we all have to contend with, brought together by murder, something that most of us don't have to deal with, thankfully.

Finding out why publication of this excellent early joint-effort was so long delayed is in itself fascinating. Both disturbing, interesting, and a good fun read, I'd recommended this highly, especially to those interested in these particular authors, the 'Beat' era in general, and 'true-crime' stories.
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on 15 February 2014
The recent film 'Kill Your Darlings' (2013) covers the background events which inspired this novel, whose chapters are written alternately by Burroughs and Kerouac. It wasn't published at the time, and was written 10 years before the works which made the two writers famous. Neither had yet adopted the distinctive styles which made their names. But the chapters by Burroughs, which are much better than Kerouac's, have a dark, sardonic humour which is typical of his personality. Despite the murder at the end, the narrative rambles, giving an accurate portrayal of the drunken, irresponsible, disorganized lives of the young beat generation. A book for those intrigued to know about the world from which their better known later writings emerged.
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on 6 November 2008
If, like me, you are a big fan of Burroughs and Kerouac's eh 'solo efforts'; if you have raced through 'On The Road' while pitifully short on gas, and shot up on 'Junk' when you knew you shouldn't; if you have searched through 'Cities of the Red Night';if you have broken down in 'Big Sur' and shifted your way through all those frozen moments of 'Naked Lunch' then you will probably want to buy this book. It is the heretofore unpublished collaboration from 1944 between these two greats of Twentieh Century Literature, written as alternating chapters, one by Burroughs followed by one by Kerouac and on like that, from the point of view of William Dennison and Mike Ryko respectively. It tells the story of a crime from the point of view of two mixed up in it. It is apparently based on actual events. I wouldn't call it a work of juvenalia exactly, there is a lot to like here, but it doesn't reach the heights (or the depths) of either writer's later stylistic flourishes. It is in fact a pretty conventional novel. The main enjoyment for me was in seeing the differences between the two writers even at this embryonic stage, spotting the germs of what they would become. But I don't want to dissuade anyone from buying this at ALL! If you like the two writers' work then buy it by all means. I really enjoyed reading it. All I would say is 'Don't start here' if you've never before read Burroughs or Kerouac.
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on 5 June 2014
I love Kerouac's 'On The Road' and enjoy some of Burroughs works. This gives a great insight to a big event in their lives as they saw it and reading this gives the works of these two authors (and others such as Ginsberg) a whole more meaning and breadth to those new to these writer's works.
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on 8 October 2014
I knew this story from background reading into the Beat Movement, but this is the tale told by the two leading lights, who were cited as accessories. A must for all Beat fans.
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