So you’ve read On the Road. Gold star. But after literary agent Sterling Lord helped him sell his first novel, Jack Kerouac wrote more than just his famous study on freedom, jazz, and his beat generation counterparts.
Even if you haven’t read the classic On the Road, you’ve probably heard of the wild exploits of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs, the revolutionary authors that turned the literary establishment on its head (or seen Don Draper reading about them on Mad Men). Get to know the other Jack Kerouac books with this group of lesser-known novels, poetry, and essays.
The Town and the City
Jack Kerouac’s debut novel, published seven years before On the Road, follows one family’s struggle with the shifting culture of post-WWII America. Based on Kerouac’s own youth, The Town and the City not only gives insight into the Beat Icon’s childhood, but the developing style of a literary master.
Good for fans of Thomas Wolfe, the post World War II era, and Kerouac fans who aren’t as big on his beat writings.
The Scripture of the Golden Eternity
Did you know that Jack Kerouac was a poet? After an inexplicable fainting spell, Kerouac was bursting with ideas on enlightenment. Drawing on his interest in Buddhist philosophy, he wove a collection of meditations, haikus, and zen koans focusing on joy and consciousness in an infinite universe.
Good for Beat fans who haven’t explored the movement’s poetry and people interested in understanding the nature of existence in an infinite universe.
Kerouac, perhaps unlike some of his contemporaries, wrote poetry for the rebels and the misfits. Rejecting conventional forms and subject matter, he chose to focus on poetry that evoked the spoken word and eschewed pretention and abstraction.
Good for fans of sparse uncensored poetry that doesn’t care much for tradition.
The perfect compliment to On the Road, Desolation Angels features a lively cast of pseudonymous characters based on Kerouac and his fellow beats. A meditation on isolation and the thirst for adventure, this Kerouac novel follows the Beats as they continue their free-wheeling lifestyles and cope with the scrutiny that comes from fame.
Good for fans of On the Road looking for more Beat action.
Good Blonde & Others
This collection of articles, essays, and autobiographical stories gives readers an uncensored look at the real Kerouac. He takes his readers on a journey—both literal and metaphorical—as he explores philosophy, dreams, road trips with photographer Robert Frank and driving to San Francisco high on Benzedrine.
Good for Kerouac diehards who don’t mind a bit of a roller coaster ride.
Featured image: Wikipedia