A never-before-published book of poems by Jack Kerouac in a deluxe package In 1952 and 1953 as he wandered around America, Jack Kerouac jotted down spontaneous prose poems, or sketches as he called them, on small notebooks that he kept in his shirt pockets. The poems recount his travels New York, North Carolina, Lowell (Massachusetts, Kerouacs birthplace), San Francisco, Denver, Kansas, Mexico observations, and meditations on art and life. The poems are often strung together so that over the course of several of them, a little story or travelogue appears, complete in itself. Published for the first time, Book of Sketches offers a luminous, intimate, and transcendental glimpse of one of the most original voices of the twentieth century at a key time in his literary and spiritual development.
Somewhere between diary, verbal sketchbook and play-by-play account of whatever passed before his eyes, this collection of poems transcribed from notebooks Kerouac kept in his pocket between 1952 and 1954 turns out to rank with his most interesting work. From clipped descriptions of America's underbelly ("a pile of junk, --& the/ girders of the viaduct have / great black bolt heads/ like knobs of a / sweating steel black/ city") to vague hipster prophesying ("The next great con-/ flict will be between/ Hip & Christ"), Whitmanesque embraces of his fellow man ("...I have cared/ for ye dutchmen"), love notes to famous beatnik friends ("O Allen Sad Allen Ah / Mystery") and sad, self-deprecating prayers ("Drink is good for/ love -- good for/ music -- let it/ be good for writing"), Kerouac hits all the notes for which he and his fellow beats are known. While not everything here is golden, the immediacy and unpretentiousness of this off-the-cuff writing makes it an intimate glimpse into the consciousness of a man who simply couldn't stop observing. A short, aggrandizing introduction by painter George Condo sets the tone. (Apr.)
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April 03, 2006
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