Sunday, May 27, 2018

Curation #50 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac



Item #50 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is the last item on Shelf #1. It is a copy of The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, a 35th printing of a 1976 Penguin Books edition. It's in the same condition as yesterday's copy of On The Road (very rough) and the provenance is uncertain.

I've opined previously in this curation project about The Dharma Bums here and here. What's left to say regards this particular copy, and to understand its meaning to me one need only visit yesterday's blog post about On The Road here. Like that copy, this one is well-used. It has sentimental value as one of the first three Kerouac novels I read -- the actual copy -- and I used it to teach my Kerouac course at University of Maine at Farmington. Also, it was the copy I used when writing my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions.

In short, this a prized possession right up there with my "working" copy of On The Road, and, to top it off, The Dharma Bums is my favorite Kerouac novel (evidence being my license plate, DHRMABM). I know real critics will disagree that it is even one of his best, but that's okay. Opinions are like, well, you know . . . and everybody has one.



Below is a picture of Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (on its side in front of the upright books) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: We start on Shelf #2 with Some of the Dharma by Jack Kerouac.

Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Curation #49 from my Kerouac bookshelf: On The Road by Jack Kerouac



Item #49 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this ragged copy of On The Road by Jack Kerouac. It's by Penguin Books, appearing to be an 18th printing of a 1976 edition. It's 310 pages, 5" x 7-5/8", and it's in rough, rough shape: cover creases, dog-ears, annotations (see below picture), taped-in references (see below picture), underlining, Post-Its, packing taped holding it together, etc. The provenance is unknown, but I must have bought it in 2002 or 2003 at the urging of my Neal Cassady-esque friend, Keith. It was either the first or second Kerouac book I read, and, yes, it was that late in my life (late 40s). I may have read The Dharma Bums first. I tried to ascertain this from my Amazon orders history to no avail. And my failing memory is no help at all. I may have to resort to looking through my journals from the time. (P.S. I looked back through my journals and it appears I read The Dharma Bums and Big Sur and On The Road around the end of 2004, so I was wrong with the date above. Order? TDB before BS, but unsure of OTR's place.)

I've opined about On The Road in general in a previous curation (or two), so let me say some things about this particular copy. It's a prized possession because of its history. I read it during my mid-life crisis bachelor days while teaching at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, most likely while sitting on the couch in the window at the Night & Day Coffee Cafe in Mansfield. It certainly put me on the Kerouacian path. I've read it many times, in part because I used it as one of the texts when I taught a Kerouac first year seminar at the University of Maine at Farmington in the spring of 2013-2017 (5 times). Hence all the annotating and Post-It notes. Also of note, this is the copy I used when writing The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, so it has all 100 Kerouactions lined in pen and numbered (see below picture).

My attempt to keep the real-life characters straight on a blank end page


My taped-in reference from John Leland's Why Kerouac Matters on the title page


An example of the way all 100 Kerouactions appear

We've been through a lot, this book and me. Two jobs, retirement, several relationships, 4 houses, 3 moves, living in 2 states, 2 big birthdays . . . a lot. And this copy shows it. So I love it dearly. It's worth exactly nothing to anyone else, but to me it is, well, priceless.

Yair!


Below is a picture of Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (on its side in front of the upright books) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.

Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Friday, May 25, 2018

4 chapbooks by Analog Submission Press





In our book swap, which I got the better deal of, Marc Brüseke sent me the book I previously reviewed and the above 4 poetry chapbooks published by Analog Submission Press.

I really enjoyed Sticks of Tea, which comprises 3-line word play inspired by haiku. I have been experimenting with this form myself in my journal. A Face Now Rendered Indescribable and Cumulative Impact Zone are both thoughtful free verse in the Beat vein. All three of the latter are by Marc. Fat Pink Demons is by Gregarious Beach, and it's hard to describe. It takes a poetic form, consisting of short word phrases that trigger a lot of connections in the reader.

If you are looking for some off-the-beaten-track (no pun intended) poetry, check these or any of the other chapbooks available at http://www.analogsubmission.com/.

Support small presses and local poets!



Get It Back To Give It Away by Marc Brüseke




I just finished Get It Back To Give It Away by Marc Brüseke. It's a quick read -- 130 pages. As the back cover says, it's the "story of Richard Marx as he travels through Hungary and Croatia jotting down notes and poems in his pocketbook while meditating on the transient nature of travel."

I met Marc via this blog (he currently resides in Europe) and we traded books via the mail. As he described his book in his note to me when the book arrived, it is a "fusion of prose & what I've been calling 'photo-sketch' poetry (inspired by Kerouac's sketch method & Roland Barthes' photographic analysis) --> I basically look at photos I've taken and then though the use of memory & personal reflection & visual cues I write them up as poems." The book is about 1/3 such poems and 2/3 prose that is Kerouacian in style.

The prose sections are journal-like, written in first-person and describing the narrator's experiences traveling. As you can imagine, there's a lot of sight-seeing, drinking, eating, people-watching, smoking, talking, walking, and navigating public transportation. There's a love story of sorts, too, but I don't want to give too much away.

I enjoyed Marc's book. It's reflective, descriptive, authentic, and engaging. I wanted the journey to continue at the end. Perhaps he'll do a sequel.

Get It Back To Give It Away is available on Amazon here or at Marc's website: http://www.analogsubmission.com/.



Curation #48 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Town and the City by Jack Kerouac



Item #48 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this copy of Jack Kerouac's The Town and the City. It's A Harvest Book by Harcourt, Inc., copyrighted originally by Harvest in 1970 and this edition looks to be 1983 with no printing number discernible. The provenance is unknown but I likely bought it used from Amazon. This copy is in okay shape, 499 pages, 5-1/4 x 7-7/8".

The Town and the City is Jack Kerouac's first published novel (Harcourt Brace). It hit the shelves in 1950 but brought him little in the way of the critical acclaim or broader recognition that On The Road did 7 years later (read the 1950 NY Times review here). It's a Wolfean story of the Martin family from Galloway (Lowell, Massachusetts, the "town"), "whose five sons and three daughters are each endowed with an energy and vision of life that drives the narrative from the early part of the century to the years following World War II" (from the back cover).

Jack draws on his own family and friends for characters using pseudonyms as usual, but his writing style is much more traditional in this novel. His powers of description are evident, and there are hints at his spontaneous style to come as well as the Beat Generation values which bear fruit in his later writing. New York City settings play a prominent role in the story (the "city"), as do familiar beat characters like Ginsberg, Burroughs, Carr, etc. (via pseudonym).

This is an important book in that it establishes Jack's early skills as a novelist and provides an insightful contrast to his later-developed style. If you're a Kerouac fan it's essential reading, but I suspect you'll like it if you're a fan of a good novel.





Below is a picture of Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (29th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Curation #47 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Dr. Sax and the Great World Snake by Jack Kerouac



Item #47 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this copy of Dr. Sax and the Great World Snake by Jack Kerouac. As the cover shows, it's a combo of 2 audio CDs and an unabridged illustrated screenplay. This copy appears to be a 2003 Gallery Six first edition and first printing. The provenance, I believe, is that it was a gift from a colleague when I left my professorship at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania in 2006. It's in good shape.

Dr. Sax and the Great World Snake is a screenplay that Kerouac wrote based on his novel, Dr. Sax, which we discussed a couple of blog posts ago. Sadly, I have yet to sit and listen to the CDs while following along with the written screenplay. It should be good and it's on my bucket list. Robert Creeley narrates and Lawrence Ferlinghetti plays the part of the Wizard. Even producer/director Jim Sampas plays a part. Music is provided by Blue Note recording artist John Medeski.

What did you think of Dr. Sax and the Great World Snake?






Below is a picture of Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (28th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: The Town and the City by Jack Kerouac.

Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf

Who Walk in Darkness by Chandler Brossard: A review of sorts



I borrowed this book from my great friend, Richard Marsh, who was turned on to it by UK Kerouac scholar Dave Moore (keeper of the wonderful Character Key to Kerouac's Duluoz Legend). I read it in about three sittings across two days. While it covers some of the same ground as Kerouac (young adults living a bohemian lifestyle in downtown NYC circa 1948), Chandler Brossard's terse style is quite different from Jack's spontaneous and rambling prose. The main characters drink a lot and smoke "tea" (marijuana) and have uncommitted sex with each other and discuss literary subjects.

According to Wikipedia (always suspect), Brossard was not happy that reviewers characterized the book as a beat novel, thinking that French critics knew better, perceiving it as the first "new wave" novel by presenting a nightmare as flat documentary. Others have called it an attempt at being an American existential novel a la Hemingway (click here for a review of the book). As with Kerouac, primary characters represent real-life people (for example, writers Anatole Broyard and William Gaddis).

I was engaged enough by the book, although I didn't really dig Brossard's writing style. The Greenwich Village descriptions put the reader right there, but the dialogue is a bit unrealistic (to me). Most importantly, I didn't really care about any of the characters, but I suspect that was Brossard's intention, paralleling the characters' attempts at being too cool for traditional love relationships.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It's a fun read, especially if you dig the Greenwich Village scene in the later 40s. I'm not running out and finding more Brossard to read, but I'm glad I read Who Walk in Darkness.