Joyce Johnson‘s long-awaited Kerouac biography, The Voice Is All – The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac was published yesterday – “Looking more deeply than previous biographers into how Kerouac’s French-Canadian background enriched his prose and gave him a unique outsider’s view of America, she tracks his development from boyhood through the phenomenal breakthroughs of 1951” (her narrative, intriguingly, stops there with him, poised with the composition of Visions of Cody and On The Road). Early reviews have been extremely enthusiastic – “Quite simply the best book on Kerouac and one of the best accounts of any writer’s apprenticeship that I have read”, writes author Russell Banks. “This is the definitive work on Kerouac”, writes Beat scholar, Ann Douglas. Kirkus Review‘s glowing review (“an exemplary biography”, “a triumph of scholarship”) may be read here, Publisher’s Weekly‘s (“Johnson excels in her colorful, candid, assessment”) here. Here‘s Jonah Raskin’s recent interview with the author (and here‘s an NPR interview (from 2001) – further interviews (from 2007) are available here and here).
Johnson is, of course, the author of the essential memoir, Minor Characters (1987), Doors Wide Open – A Beat Love Affair in Letters 1957-1958 (2000), and Missing Men – A Memoir (2005). Her observations on Kerouac may also be read in this review, (on the publication of the original On The Road manuscript), in Vanity Fair.
Oh and we did mention the recent publication of the extraordinary Jack Kerouac – Collected Poems?
Harry Smith big day tomorrow in London – Saturday September 15, the University of East Anglia’s all-day conference – America Changed By Music. We’ve mentioned this one too before, but we’ll happily mention it again.
and this, next Wednesday in Brooklyn
Here’s John Cohen on Harry – “Some Crazy Magic: Meeting Harry Smith“, delightfully illustrated by Drew Christie:
Ginsberg Recordings penultimate release from Holy Soul Jelly Roll will be on Tuesday – September 18 – part 3, (Caw! Caw!). What digitally-remastered tracks can you now enjoy? – “Caw Caw” – well, that’s “Kaddish”, of course, (from the original 1966 Atlantic Records album). In addition, there’s “Kral Majales (King of May)” (recorded in London in ’65), and two from the 1989 Lion For Real album, “Guru” and “To Aunt Rose”
and then, on the last part, (release date, the 21st, next Friday), (Moloch) – classic ’50’s recordings (including the 1956 Berkeley Town Hall reading of “Howl”, a separate “Footnote to Howl”, “America”,”Walking at Night in Key West”, “A Mad Gleam”, “The Green Automobile”, “A Supermarket in California”, “Sunflower Sutra”, “Green Valentine Blues”, and “Death To Van Gogh’s Ear”).
That night, in conjunction with Origin Magazine (the new Origin, not this Origin) and NYC hosts, The Allen Ginsberg Estate and The Rubin Museum, Ginsberg Recordings will be celebrating the completed album’s official launch with “Ginsberg In The Galleries” – “Poets and friends of Ginsberg will be reading/performing poems and songs from the collection, as well as their own work” – Scheduled to read so far – Anne Waldman, Steven Taylor, Eileen Myles, Sharon Mesmer and Alex Dimitrov.