New letters, manuscripts, notebooks, journals, etc., are constantly appearing from the privately-held Kerouac vault, so new Kerouac biographies are constantly superceding previous efforts. Maher's biography was with the full consent and permission of the estate to examine everything, for the first time. And who knew Kerouac was such an incredible filer and organizer; it turns out he kept, and organized, everything. So this book is aware of all the details and, because Kerouac was so fascinating, is a great read. The only reservation is that Maher refuses to look at certain issues, most notably the issue of Kerouac's sexuality -- or let's say, sexual fluidity. Now this had already been done -- clumsily, even egregiously -- by Ellis Amburn's Subterranean Kerouac, which wanted to read every Kerouac childhood wrestling match as homoerotic, and every football game as sublimated gay-bashing, and likes to dish through very badly footnoted/attributed stories. But Maher will tell the story of Columbia University officials barging into Ginsburg's dorm room and finding the two naked in bed without commentary, even though Kerouac would repeatedly in later years lash out at any suggestion of homosexuality in his work (which, after all, is all autobiographical). Maher evidently has been commissioned next to write a 3 volume Kerouac biography, with the first volume to appear in 2010, the second in 2012. Maybe Maher will feel more confident interpreting the Kerouac legacy in a deeper work, reflective of more time spent absorbing the vast Kerouac material -- or maybe the estate will have a less firm censoring hand, if that has been the problem. In any case, this is a step in the right direction, very readable, and worth it while you wait for the Accelerated Global Warming Edition.Mattc
great biography. brutal ending.Quentin
Another run-of-the-mill Kerouac bio that sheds no new light on the life or work of the King of the Beats. Recommend "Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac" by Ellis Auburn instead.Pace
Maher had access to gold, restricted original material. He used it to beef up a tedious fan fiction type of biography. He has probably damaged Kerouac scholarship for decades. Another Sampa scam.Kel
This books is wonderful, I'm really only about half-way through. But if you are looking for a biography about Jack Kerouac, this is the best book I would recommend to read.