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An interesting read, but nothing really new about it
on 11 November 2000
I had already read several books about Jack Kerouac and his friends, and I did not feel that this one differed very much from the others. It was inevitibly quite a good read, since the story is an interesting one, but there were few new insights. Perhaps the biggest difference was that this author was a little harder on his subject, admitting that in some ways he was not a particularly admirable character. Allen Ginsberg probably emerges with most credit in this version, perhaps not surprisingly since he was apparently a friend of the author. He made a couple of strange omissions: he did not even mention the death of Neal Cassady, which was surely one of the final nails in the coffin of a man who was already effectively giving up on life, and he presented one genuinely new and interesting fact, also about Neal Cassady, which was not mentioned in any other book I'd read, but did not follow it up at all, so that I was left thinking, "Why tell us this juicy secret if you don't want us to know about it?" However, there were some interesting attempts to understand what might have been behind Kerouac's behaviour, and it would probably make a good first book for someone who had not previously read anything about this group of writers.