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Fiction by Kerouac

Kerouac, Jack. Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings. Paul Marion, ed. New York: Viking, 1999.


This short story collection of early prose, poetry, and fictional extracts by Kerouac explores a part of the writer's literary development that had never before been published and available. Organized chronologically, it reveals what Kerouac was interested in between the ages of 13 and 21, and how he chose to write about it. These immature works do not herald the future Beat Generation but give an overview, with the editor's commentary and quotes from an older Kerouac, of how one young man learned to write.



Kerouac, Jack. Big Sur. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.


This is Jack Kerouac's most telling work. For the first time he confronts his own alcoholism as a genuine problem. He continues his autobiographical adventures as the wanderer from On The Road . He vividly depicts his delirium tremens after a period of heavy drinking. The book ends with an impressionistic poem of the Pacific Ocean entitled “Sea.” Written 1961; originally published 1962.


Kerouac, Jack. Desolation Angels. New York: Riverhead Books, 1995.


This novel, written over a period of years, finally reached the publisher in 1964 and is considered the definitive voice of the Beat Generation. It is the story of Kerouac's life as told through Jack Duluoz, his fictional self, as he hitchhikes, walks, and talks his way around the world. Kerouac alternates between the fast-paced times in New York and San Francisco and the isolation he felt in 1956 during his three months as a fire watcher on Desolation Peak in the High Sierras. Written 1956-1961; originally published 1965.


Kerouac, Jack. The Dharma Bums. Viking, 2008.


The Dharma Bums are searching for “Truth the Zen Way.” This novel of the Beat Generation published just a year after On the Road demonstrates the author's humor and zest for life. His characters go from wild drinking bouts to poetry jams, from the world of San Francisco to the solitude of the High Sierras, to a vigil on Desolation Peak in Washington State. Written 1957; originally published 1958.


Kerouac, Jack. Doctor Sax: Faust Part Three. New York: Grove Press, 1987.


Dr. Sax is a shadow-like creation of Jack Duluoz (Kerouac's persona) that haunts the adolescent fantasy world in which Jack and his friends G.J. Lousy, Vinny, and Scotty live as they are growing up in the mid-1930s. Floating between memory and dream, Kerouac captures the essence of his boyhood adventures in Lowell, Massachusetts. Written 1952; originally published 1959.


Kerouac, Jack. Lonesome Traveler. New York: Grove Press, 1960.


This is Kerouac's first truly autobiographical novel. In each section he relates various experiences and events in his life. The descriptive detail Kerouac uses when he talks about his job as a railroad brakeman in California and his page-long sentences are characteristic of his jazz-like prose. Written 1960; originally published 1960.


Kerouac, Jack. Maggie Cassidy. New York: Penguin Books, 1959.


Although it was written earlier than On the Road , this novel was only recognized after Kerouac's “overnight success.” First titled Springtime Mary, Maggie Cassidy recounts the story of Kerouac's first love with his high school sweetheart in the late 1930s. The young lovers learn that “happily ever after” is not always the ending to the story. The author deftly captures the joy and awkwardness of adolescent love. Written 1953; originally published 1959.


Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.


This classic novel has had a profound impact on three generations of writers, artists, musicians, and poets. In this touchstone for the Beat Generation, “Sal Paradise” (Kerouac) and “Dean Moriarity” (Cassady) seek self-knowledge as well as pleasure, sex, drugs, and adventure on the open road. Written 1951; originally published 1957.


Kerouac, Jack. On the Road: The Original Scroll. New York: Viking, 2007.


A reproduction of Kerouac's original 1951 scroll draft of "On the Road" offers insight into the writer's thematic vision and narrative voice as influenced by the American literary, musical, and visual arts of the post-World War II period.


Kerouac, Jack. Orpheus Emerged. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.


Discovered by his estate following Kerouac's death in 1969, this novel explores the dreams, conflicts, passions, and activities of a group of bohemian students search for truth while studying at a university.


Kerouac, Jack. Road Novels 1957-1960. New York: Library of America, 2007.


A collector's edition of five works by the late Beat Generation classic writer combines the eminent "On the Road" with the novels, "The Dharma Bums," "The Subterraneans," "Tristessa," and "Lonesome Traveler."


Kerouac, Jack. Satori in Paris & Pic. New York: Grove Press, 1988.


Satori in Paris and Pic, two of Jack Kerouac's last novels, showcase the remarkable range and versatility of his mature talent. Satori in Paris is a rollicking autobiographical account of Kerouac's search for his heritage in France, and lands the author in his familiar milieu of seedy bars and all-night conversations. Pic is Kerouac's final novel and one of his most unusual. Narrated by ten-year-old Pictorial Review Jackson in a North Carolina vernacular, the novel charts the adventures of Pic and his brother Slim as they travel from the rural South to Harlem in the 1940s.



Kerouac, Jack. The Subterraneans. New York: Grove Press, 1958.


Kerouac chronicles his brief love affair with Mardou Fox, a young black woman. Although this took place in New York City, he changed the locale to San Francisco to protect the identities of some of the characters. He chose San Francisco because it was becoming a very “hip” place to be. Written 1953; originally published 1958.


Kerouac, Jack. The Town and the City. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.


Published in 1950, this is Jack Kerouac's first novel. Written in a traditional style, it is the story of his family from the early 1900s to the years following World War II. He uses an interesting literary technique where, at different ages, each of the five boys in the family experiences the actual life events of Kerouac himself. There is an in-depth account of the Thanksgiving football game where Kerouac single-handedly won the game against his school's arch rival. This event provided him with a football scholarship to Columbia, where he met Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Cassady. Written 1946-1948; originally published 1950.



Kerouac, Jack. Tristessa. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.


Tristessa is the portrait of a young prostitute with whom Kerouac had an affair amidst the squalor of the drug underworld of Mexico City. It was written in two parts, during visits to Mexico in 1955 and 1956, and is one of 12 books written between the completion and publication of the On the Road in 1957. Written 1955-1956; originally published 1960.


Kerouac, Jack. Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.


This narrative is made up of recollections of Kerouac's life from his high school football years to his time at Horace Mann Preparatory School and Columbia University. This autobiographical novel also describes his years on a merchant freighter during World War II and his subsequent return to New York. After his father's death, he immersed himself in writing his first published novel, The Town and the City. Written 1968; originally published 1968.


Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Cody. New York: Penguin Books, 1993.


Written in radical experimental form, this work of spontaneous prose goes far beyond any of Kerouac's other works, including On the Road. By the time it was published in 1972, this book had become an underground legend. In an excerpt called “The Tape,” Kerouac meticulously transcribes an audiotape made while sitting with Neal Cassady over several days in his Nob Hill, San Francisco kitchen. Written 1951-1952; originally published 1972.


Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Gerard. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.


Gerard was Kerouac's older brother who died of rheumatic fever at the age of nine. With the possible exception of Kerouac's mother, Gerard had the greatest influence on the writer's life. In this book, Kerouac focuses on his early childhood (he was four when Gerard died) and the emotions he felt during and after his brother's tragically short life. Written in 1951-1952; originally published 1958.



Related Fiction



Duberman, Martin, B. Visions of Kerouac: A Play. Boston: Little Brown, 1977.


According to Duberman, this play is a “meditation on Kerouac's life” just as Visions of Cody is a meditation on Neal Cassady's life. Additionally, the play deals with friendship, emotions, and growing up male in America. It caused considerable controversy when performed in New York City in late 1976.


Holmes, John Clellon. Go: A Novel. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1988.


Published five years before On the Road, Go is generally acknowledged to be the first Beat novel depicting the underground counterculture that questioned the complacency of the 1950s. Its characters bear many similarities to those in other Kerouac work. Its main characters are recognizable as thinly-disguised portraits of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassady, and friend Herbert Huncke.


Kerouac, Jan. Baby Driver. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981.


Following in her father's footsteps, Jan Kerouac offers a view of the generation that followed her father's Beat Generation.   As a woman “on the road,” she takes us through her own version of the psychedelic 1960s. While in her teens she experiences street life in New York's Lower East Side, LSD, probation, and a personal tragedy in Mexico. It is only in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district and the state of Washington that she eventually finds peace. This is Jan Kerouac's first book.


Kerouac, Jan. Trainsong. New York: Henry Holt, 1988.


In her second book, Jan continues her quest for identity as she returns from South America to replenish herself at home with her mother in Oregon. Soon she is back to her frenetic life exploration: a love affair, a new marriage, passage on a Yugoslavian freighter, stops in Casablanca, Tangier, London, and once again New York. Later her marriage collapses and she spends a night in jail. Through it all she harbors the image of a father she hardly knew — a man pushing her on in a relentless search for her own identity.


McGrady, Sean. Sleeping with Jack Kerouac. New York: published by author, 2017.


Scotty Dorian has grown up and lived in a rarefied world of books - a heady cocktail of famous authors and their mad, drunken pursuit in the name of their art - a life of literary and moneyed privilege. Scotty is beautiful and accomplished, seeming to have it all - so why would she need to murder her literary agent husband? And how on earth did Jack Kerouac, the King of Beats and dead since 1969, beome her accomplice?




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