Books

The Haunted Life

Jack Kerouac

The Haunted Life is the coming-of-age story of Peter Martin, a college track star determined to idle away what he knows will be one of his last innocent summers in his tranquil New England home town. But with the war escalating in Europe and his two closest friends both plotting their escapes, he realizes how sheltered his upbringing has been. As he surveys the competing influences of his youth, he struggles to determine what might lead to an intellectually authentic life.

The Haunted Life is ultimately a meditation on intellectual truth, male friendship and the desire for movement - all themes that would dominate Kerouac's later work.

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

Jack Kerouac (and others)

In 1944, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs were charged as accessories to murder. One of their friends, Lucien Carr, had stabbed another, David Kammerrer. Carr had come to each of them and confessed; Kerouac helped him get rid of the weapon - neither told the police. For this failing they were arrested. Months later, the two writers - unpublished at the time - collaborated on And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, a fictionalized account of the summer of the killing.

The Sea is My Brother

Jack Kerouac

'His first novel is a revelation ... the writing is vivid, serious and extraordinary ... wonderful' The Times

The Sea is My Brother is Jack Kerouac's very first novel, begun shortly after his tour as a merchant sailor in 1942. Lost during his lifetime, it is an intense portrait of friendship and brotherhood and a meditation on the desire to escape society, following the fortunes of two men as they impulsively decide to work their passage on the S.S. Westminster: drinking, arguing, playing cards, dodging torpedoes and contemplating the vast, terrible beauty of the sea. Published with fragments of early stories and letters, this visceral work gives a unique insight into the young Kerouac and the formation of his genius.

'What's clear from this newly published first novel is that Kerouac was positively fizzing with talent at an early age' Sunday Times

Doctor Sax

Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac called Doctor Sax, the enigmatic figure who haunted his boyhood imagination, 'my ghost, personal angel, private shadow, secret lover'. In this extraordinary autobiographical account of growing up in Lowell, Massachussetts, told through his fictional alter ego Jack Duluoz, he mingles real people and events with fantastical figures to capture the accents, scents, sights and texture of his childhood: playing among the river weeds and railroad tracks, going to church, witnessing life and death on the street corners. Written when he was staying with William Burroughs in Mexico in 1952, Doctor Sax was Kerouac's favourite of all his books: a dark, vivid and magical evocation of a boy's vibrant inner life.

Big Sur

Jack Kerouac

In 1960 Jack Kerouac was near breaking point. Driven mad by constant press attention in the wake of the publication of On the Road, he needed to 'get away to solitude again or die', so he withdrew to a cabin in Big Sur on the Californian coast. The resulting novel, in which his autobiographical hero Jack Duluoz wrestles with doubt, alcohol dependency and his urge towards self-destruction, is one of Kerouac's most personal and searingly honest works. Ending with the poem 'Sea: Sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur', it shows a man coming down from his hedonistic youth and trying to come to terms with fame, the world and himself.

Desolation Angels

Jack Kerouac

Desolation Angels is the wild and soulful story of the legendary road trip that Jack Kerouac took before the publication of On the Road, told through the persona of Jack Duluoz and accompanied by his thinly-disguised Beat cohorts Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and William Burroughs. As they hitch, hop freight trains, walk and talk their way across the world, from California to Mexico, London to Paris and on to opium-ridden Tangiers, Kerouac chronicles their poetry, partying, mountain vigils and spiritual contemplation with unsurpassable energy and humanity.

Vanity of Duluoz

Jack Kerouac

The tale of Kerouac's alter-ego, Vanity of Duluoz presents Jack Duluoz's high school experiences as a sporting jock in Massachusetts and his time at Columbia University on a football scholarship. Just as Jack's glamorous new adult life begins, so does World War II, and he joins the US Navy to travel the world. As Jack experiences more, he realizes the limits of his former plans and returns to New York at the start of the Beat movement, to a riot of drugs, sex and writing. Vanity of Duluoz was Kerouac's final work published before his death in 1969.

Visions of Cody

Jack Kerouac

An experimental novel which remained unpublished for years, Visions of Cody is Kerouac's fascinating examination of his own New York life, in a collection of colourful stream-of-consciousness essays. Transcribing taped conversations between members of their group as they took drugs and drank, this book reveals an intimate portrait of people caught up in destructive relationships with substances, and one another. Always fixated by Neal Cassady - the Cody of the title, renamed for the book along with Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs - Kerouac also explores the feelings he had for a man who would inspire much of his work.

Satori in Paris

Jack Kerouac

This semi-autobiographical tale of Kerouac's own trip to France, to trace his ancestors and explore his own understanding of the Buddhism that came to define his beliefs, contains some of Kerouac's most lyrical descriptions. From his reports of the strangers he meets and the all-night conversations he enjoys in seedy bars in Paris and Brittany, to the moment in a cab he experiences Buddhism's satori - a feeling of sudden awakening - Kerouac's affecting and revolutionary writing transports the reader.

Published at the height of his fame, Satori in Paris is a hectic tale of philosophy, identity and the powerful strangeness of travel.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac

On the Road by Jack Kerouac is the exhilarating novel that defined the Beat Generation and is a 2012 major motion picture starring Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Sam Riley, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range.

'What's your road, man? - holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow.'

Sal Paradise, young and innocent, joins the slightly crazed Dean Moriarty on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American Dream.

A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac's exhilarating novel defined the new 'Beat' generation and became the bible of the counter culture.

'On the Road sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines, and also sent countless kids on the road. The alienation, the restlessness, the dissatisfaction were already there waiting when Kerouac pointed out the road' William Burroughs

'Pop writing at its best. It changed the way I saw the world, making me yearn for fresh experience' Hanif Kureishi, Independent on Sunday

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922. Educated by Jesuit brothers in Lowell, he decided to become a writer at age seventeen and developed his own writing style, which he called 'spontaneous prose'. He used this technique to record the life of the American 'traveler' and the experiences of the Beat Generation, most memorably in On the Road and also in The Subterraneans and The Dharma Bums. His other works include Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Lonesome Traveler, Visions of Gerard, Tristessa, and a book of poetry called Mexico City Blues. Jack Kerouac died in 1969.

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

Jack Kerouac (and others)

In alternating chapters that reveal a nascent period in their development as two of the twentieth century's most influential writers, Beat Generation icons William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac's And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks is an electrifying true-life mystery, including afterword by James Grauerholtz in Penguin Modern Classics.

This is a hardboiled crime novel, and a true story. In 1944, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, then still unknown writers, were both arrested following a murder: one of their friends had stabbed another and then come to them for advice - neither had told the police. Later they wrote this fictionalised account of that summer - of a group of friends in wartime New York, moving through each other's apartments, drinking, necking, talking and taking drugs and haphazardly drifting towards a bloody crime. Unpublished for years, And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks is a remarkable insight into the lives and literary development of two great writers.

If you enjoyed And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks, you might like Kerouac's On the Road, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'The novel that kicked it all off'
Independent

'An insight into Kerouac before he went on the road and Burroughs before his drug use spiralled out of control, this is a major literary event'
GQ

Maggie Cassidy

Jack Kerouac

From the bard of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac's Maggie Cassidy is an autobiographical novel of young love, published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Though publishers stopped Maggie Cassidy's Jack Duluoz and On the Road's Sal Paradise from sharing the same name, Kerouac meant the books to be two parts of the same life. While On the Road made Paradise (and Kerouac) a hero for generations to come of the disaffected and restless, Maggie Cassidy is an affectionate portrait of the teenager that made the man - of friendship and first love growing up in a New England mill town. Duluoz is a high school athletics and football star who meets Maggie Cassidy and begins a devoted, inconstant, tender adolescent love affair. It is one of the most sustained, poetic pieces of Kerouac's 'spontaneous prose'.

Jack Kerouac (1922-69) was an American novelist, poet, artist and part of the Beat Generation. His first published novel, The Town and the City, appeared in 1950, but it was On the Road, published in 1957, that made Kerouac famous. Publication of his many other books followed, among them The Subterraneans, Big Sur, and The Dharma Bums. Kerouac died in Florida at the age of forty-seven.

If you enjoyed Maggie Cassidy, you might like Kerouac's The Subterraneans and Pic, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'A very unique cat - a French Canadian Hinayana Buddhist Beat Catholic savant' Allen Ginsberg

Wake Up

Jack Kerouac

Never before published in Kerouac's lifetime, Jack Kerouac's Wake Up is a clear and powerful study of the life and works of Siddartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, from the author of On the Road. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Robert Thurman.

Wake Up recounts the story of Prince Siddhartha's royal upbringing and his father's wish to protect him from all human suffering, despite a prediction that he would become a great holy man in later life. Departing from his father's palace, Siddhartha adopts a homeless life, struggles with his meditations, and eventually finds Enlightenment. Written at the end of Kerouac's career, when he became increasingly interested in Buddhist teachings, and collected for the first time in one book, this fresh and accessible biography is both an important addition to Kerouac's work and a valuable introduction to the world of Buddhism itself.

Jack Kerouac (1922-69) was an American novelist, poet, artist and part of the Beat Generation. His first published novel, The Town and the City, appeared in 1950, but it was On the Road, published in 1957, that made Kerouac famous. Publication of his many other books followed, among them The Subterraneans, Big Sur, and The Dharma Bums. Kerouac died in Florida at the age of forty-seven.

If you enjoyed Wake Up, you might like Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'[Kerouac] defines the attitudes of an entire generation'
Guardian

On the Road: The Original Scroll

Jack Kerouac (and others)

Five decades after it was first published, Jack Kerouac's seminal Beat novel On the Road finally finds its way to the big screen, in a production from award-winning director Walter Salles (Motorcycle Diaries) starring Sam Riley (Control, Brighton Rock), Garret Hedlund (Friday Night Lights), Kristen Stewart (Twilight), Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen.

This edition is transcribed from the original manuscript: hundreds of typed pages taped together by Kerouac to form a 'scroll', published word for word as it was originally composed.

Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac's exhilarating novel swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion. One of the most influential and important novels of the 20th century, On the Road is the book that launched the Beat Generation and remains the bible of that literary movement.

'The most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as "beat"'
The New York Times

The Dharma Bums

Jack Kerouac

Published just one year after "On The Road", this is the story of two men enganged in a passionate search for Dharma or truth. Their major adventure is the pursuit of the Zen Way, which takes them climbing into the High Sierras to seek the lesson of solitude.

The Subterraneans

Jack Kerouac (and others)

Regarded by many as Jack Kerouac's most touching works, The Subterraneans and Pic are an evocative and poignant pair of novels from the author of On the Road. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Ann Douglas.

Leo Percepied, aspiring writer and self-styled free-wheeling bum, gravitates to the Subterraneans, impoverished intellectuals who haunt the bars and clubs of San Francisco, surviving on a diet of booze and benzedrine, Proust and Verlaine. Living among them is Mardou Fox, beautiful and a little crazy, whose dark eyes, full of suffering and sweetness, find recognition in Leo. But, afraid of his growing involvement, Leo sets out to destroy their love. Exuberant and melancholy, Kerouac's spontaneous prose flows across the pages. Written in three days, The Subterraneans is, like all Kerouac's work, closely related to his own life while encapsulating his great vision of America. Also included here is the novel Pic, the story of a young black boy who makes his own journey on the road.

Jack Kerouac (1922-69) was an American novelist, poet, artist and part of the Beat Generation. His first published novel, The Town and the City, appeared in 1950, but it was On the Road, published in 1957, that made Kerouac famous. Publication of his many other books followed, among them The Subterraneans, Big Sur, and The Dharma Bums. Kerouac died in Florida at the age of forty-seven.

If you enjoyed The Subterraneans and Pic, you might like Kerouac's Maggie Cassidy, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'The tender and achingly poetic account of a love affair'
Lester Bangs, Rolling Stone

The Dharma Bums

Jack Kerouac (and others)

A witty, moving philosophical novel, Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums is a journey of self-discovery through the lens of Zen Buddhist thought. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Ann Douglas.

Following the explosive energy of On the Road, the book that put the Beat Genration on the literary map - and Jack Kerouac on the bestseller list - comes The Dharma Bums, in which Kerouac charts the spiritual quest of a group of friends in search of Dharma, or Truth. Ray Smith and his friend Japhy, along with Morley the yodeller, head off into the high Sierras to seek the lesson of solitude and experience the Zen way of life. But in wildly Bohemian San Francisco, with its poetry jam sessions, marathon drinking bouts and experiments in 'yabyum', they find the ascetic route distinctly hard to follow.

Jack Kerouac (1922-69) was an American novelist, poet, artist and part of the Beat Generation. His first published novel, The Town and the City, appeared in 1950, but it was On the Road, published in 1957, that made Kerouac famous. Publication of his many other books followed, among them The Subterraneans, Big Sur, and The Dharma Bums. Kerouac died in Florida at the age of forty-seven.

If you enjoyed The Dharma Bums, you might like Kerouac's On the Road, also available in Penguin Classics.

'A vivid evocation of part of our time'
New York Post

'A descriptive excitement unmatched since the days of Thomas Wolfe'
The New York Times Book Review

Lonesome Traveler

Jack Kerouac

A timeless travelogue from the leading light of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac's Lonesome Traveller is a jubilant celebration of human discovery, published in Penguin Modern Classics.

As he roams the US, Mexico, Morocco, Paris and London, Kerouac records, in prose of pure poetry, life on the road. Standing on the engine of a train as it rushes past fields of prickly cactus; witnessing his first bullfight in Mexico while high on opium; catching up with the beat nightlife in New York; burying himself in the snow-capped mountains of north-west America; meditating on a sunlit roof in Tangiers; or falling in love with Montmartre and the huge white basilica of Sacré-Coeur - Kerouac reveals both the endless diversity of human life and his own high-spirited philosophy of self-fulfilment.

'Piquant writing, the best part of its flavour being ... the hunt for the big experience, a touch of Hemingway and Whitman'
Guardian

'Full of startling and beautiful things ... one sees, hears and feels'
Sunday Times

On the Road

Jack Kerouac (and others)

Five decades after it was first published, Jack Kerouac's seminal Beat novel On the Road finally finds its way to the big screen, in a production from award-winning director Walter Salles (Motorcycle Diaries) starring Sam Riley (Control, Brighton Rock), Garret Hedlund (Friday Night Lights), Kristen Stewart (Twilight), Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen.

Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac's exhilarating novel swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion. One of the most influential and important novels of the 20th century, On the Road is the book that launched the Beat Generation and remains the bible of that literary movement.

'The most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the
generation Kerouac himself named years ago as "beat"'
The New York Times

'Pop writing at its best. It changed the way I saw the world, making me yearn for fresh experience'
Hanif Kureishi, Independent on Sunday

'On the Road sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines, and also sent countless kids on the road'
William Burroughs

The Town and the City

Jack Kerouac (and others)

'It is the sum of myself, as far as the written word can go' Kerouac on THE TOWN AND THE CITY Kerouac's debut novel is a great coming of age story which can be read as the essential prelude to his later classics. Inspired by grief over his father's death and gripped by determination to write the Great American Novel, he draws largely on his own New England childhood.

Biography

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922. Educated by Jesuit brothers in Lowell, he decided to become a writer at age seventeen and developed his own writing style, which he called 'spontaneous prose'. He used this technique to record the life of the American 'traveler' and the experiences of the Beat Generation, most memorably in On the Road and also in The Subterraneans and The Dharma Bums. His other works include Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Lonesome Traveler, Visions of Gerard, Tristessa, and a book of poetry called Mexico City Blues. Jack Kerouac died in 1969.