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Nonfiction & Literary Criticism

Anderson, Cliff. Free Beer: Kicks & Truth with Jack Kerouac & Other Strong Drinks. [s.n.]: Happyport Productions, 2006.

Written to stand up for Kerouac against the unfair critics who surfaced after his death and to show his comedic genius. Features a vignette, Kicks and Truth, written in 1968 by Kerouac and the author.


Bierowski, Thomas R. Kerouac in Ecstasy: Shamanic Expression in the Writings. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011.

This critical text considers Jack Kerouac as writer-shaman, exploring the content and ecstatic technique of the novels and two experimental volumes that represent critical phases of his development. Author Thomas Bierowski also examines the reception ofKerouac's work.

Challis, Chris. Quest for Kerouac. London: Faber and Faber, 1984.

Analyzes the work of American novelist Jack Kerouac and other Beat writers, including Burroughs, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, and Corso, and describes the author's own visit to the United States.

Coolidge, Clark. Now it's Jazz: Writings on Kerouac & The Sounds. Albuquerque, NM: Living Batch Press, 1999.

Coolidge recalls and explores the role Kerouac and jazz have played in his artistic development.

Duberman, Martin. Visions of Kerouac: A Play. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., 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.

Frank, Robert. The Americans. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986.

Armed with a camera, a fresh cache of film and bankrolled by a Guggenheim Foundation grant, Robert Frank crisscrossed the United States during 1955 and 1956. Introduction written by Jack Kerouac.

French, Warren. Jack Kerouac. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986.

Part of Twayne's United States Authors Series, this insightful work of literary criticism takes the contrarian position that although not as popular as the cult novel On the Road , the novels that comprise the autobiographical Duluoz Legend and, in particular Big Sur, are critically significant.

Gewirtz, Isaac. Beatific Soul: Jack Kerouac on the Road. New York: New York Public Library, 2007.

Celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1957 publication of On the Road, accompanying an exhibition of the same name at The New York Public Library, Humanities and Social Sciences Library D. Samuel and Jeane H. Gottesman Exhibition Hall, November 9, 2007 - March 16, 2008.

Gewirtz, Isaac. Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats. New York: New York Public Library, 2009.

Featuring fifty reproductions of Kerouac’s horse-racing and baseball “publications,” score cards, team cards, and diagrams, drawn from The New York Public Library’s Jack Kerouac Archive. An insightful exploration of a little known Kerouac obsession.

Giamo, Benedict. Kerouac, The Word and The Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual Quester. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2000.

Jack Kerouac, a "ragged priest of the word" according to Ben Giamo, embarked on a spiritual quest "for the ultimate meaning of existence and suffering, and the celebration of joy in the meantime." Kerouac created prose styles that reflected his search for personal meaning and spiritual intensity.

Grace, Nancy. Jack Kerouac and the Literary Imagination. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

An exploration of Kerouac's fiction, poetry, religious writing, journals, and correspondence. It encompasses his fictional rewriting of his personal life, his life-long quest for spiritual enlightenment, and his resolute belief in the blending of popular and academic cultural artifacts to create voices and forms to speak of and to a new age.

Hakutani, Yoshinobu. Jack Kerouac and the Traditions of Classic and Modern Haiku. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2019.

Explores the influence of Buddhist ontology, Zen, and Confucian philosophies, as well as the development and composition of Jack Kerouac's haiku and Kerouac’s experiences in wandering and meditating in the fields and on the mountains in America.


Hanick, Riley. Three Kinds of Motion: Kerouac, Pollock, and the Making of American Highways. Louisville, Kentucky: Sarabande Books, 2015.

Book-length essay chronicles Jackson Pollock, Jack Kerouac, and the origin of America’s highway system.


Hayes, Kevin J. ed. Conversations with Jack Kerouac. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2005.  

Features interviews ranging from 1957 to 1969, covering the breadth of the author's fame and literary output.The interviews show how Kerouac revitalized American literature, but they also trace his artistic and physical decline. The final interviews show how much the writer had crippled himself emotionally with too much alcohol and how his art became more unfocused as a result.

Hipkiss, Robert A. Jack Kerouac, Prophet of the New Romanticism: A Critical Study of the Published Works of Kerouac and a Comparison of Them to Those of J.D. Salinger, James Purdy, John Knowles, and Ken Kesey. Lawrence, KS: Regents Press of Kansas, 1976.


This early critical study looks to nineteenth century English and American romanticism for the roots of Kerouac's protagonists' vision of life. It then compares Kerouac's work to other New Romantic American writers — Salinger, Purdy, Knowles, and Kesey. Kerouac's spontaneous prose writing style is also astutely evaluated.

Holladay, Hilary. What's Your Road, Man?: Critical Essays on Jack Kerouac's On the Road. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008.

Featuring essays from renowned Kerouac experts as well as emerging scholars, What's Your Road, Man? draws on an enormous amount of research into the literary, social, cultural, biographical, and historical contexts of Kerouac's canonical novel.


Hunt, Tim. Kerouac's Crooked Road: Development of a Fiction. Hamden, CA: University of California Press, 1996.

This insightful analysis of the five “road” novels places Kerouac in the center of American literary tradition, working out the strategies which link him to the conventional literature of Twain, Melville, and other American icons. Hunt's work demonstrates not only the changing aspects of the novels, but Kerouac's creative processes and development as a writer.


Hunt, Tim. The Textuality of Soulwork: Jack Kerouac's Quest for Spontaneous Prose. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014.

A new critical perspective on Kerouac's work and his textual practices.



Jack Kerouac's Typescript Scroll of On the Road: sale 9652A (lot 307). New York: Christie's International Inc., 2001.

Christie's International Inc. auction sale of the typescript scroll of On the Road.

Jones, James. T. A Map of Mexico City Blues: Jack Kerouac as Poet. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992.


James Jones provides a brief summary of Jack Kerouac's poetic career as a framework for Kerouac's 242 choruses.   The “map” discusses Kerouac's various trips to Mexico, conversion to Buddhism, attraction to blues and jazz, and how these influenced the theme and structure of “Mexico City Blues.” This thorough explication demonstrates the major contribution that this work makes to post-WW II poetry and is an informed study of the work's significance for the Beat movement.


Jones, James T. Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend: The Mythic Form of an Autobiographical Fiction  Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999.

In the only critical examination of all of Jack Kerouac's published prose, James T. Jones turns to Freud to show how the great Beat writer used the Oedipus myth to shape not only his individual works but also the entire body of his writing.


Kerouac, Jack. The Beat Generation: 3-Act Play. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005.  

A previously unpublished play written in the same year as "On the Road" incorporates themes such as tension, friendship, and karma and follows the experiences of a group of down-and-out laborer friends who discuss their lives over a bottle of wine.


Kerouac, Jack. Book of Dreams. San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books, 2001, 2019.

A record of the writer's actual dreams is populated by characters from his novels.

Kerouac, Jack. Departed Angels: [The Lost Paintings]. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2004.  

The first published collection of artwork by author Jack Kerouac features paintings, drawings, and sketches from his unpublished notebooks, as well as text by Ed Adler discussing Kerouac's relationship with the visual arts as well the influence of Buddhism and Catholicism on his creative vision.



Kerouac, Jack. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters. New York: Viking, 2010.  

Collection of two hundred letters exchanged by the celebrated Beat generation writers to offer insight into their abiding friendship and artistic views, in a volume that spans the period from Ginsberg's Columbia education until shortly before Kerouac's death.



Kerouac, Jack. The Jack Kerouac Collection. Santa Monica, CA: Rhino Word Beat, 1990.  

Published to accompany The Jack Kerouac Collection audiobook which was a compilation of the completed albums Poetry for the Beat Generation, Blues & Haikus, and Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation, and also included previously unreleased recordings by the writer and poet Jack Kerouac.


Kerouac, Jack. Kerouac Beat Painting. New York: Skira Editore, 2018.  

Features 80 paintings and drawings by Jack Kerouac, most of which have never before been published. His art work was inspired by the artists of the New York School with whom Kerouac socialized in the late '50s. This book sheds a new light on the father of the Beat Generation, showing how he brought the same energy to visual art as he did to all of his other endeavors.



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

Kerouac tells the exhilarating story of the years when he was writing the books that captivated and infuriated the public, restless years of wandering during which he worked as a railway brakeman in California, a steward on a tramp steamer, and a fire lookout on the crest of Desolation Peak in the Cascade Mountains.


Kerouac, Jack. The Portable Jack Kerouac. New York: Viking, 1995.  

These excerpts from the novels that make up Legend of Duluoz are arranged chronologically as we follow the protagonist from childhood (Visions of Gerard) to teenager (Maggie Cassidy) to young man (Vanity of Duluoz and On the Road) to road-weary traveler (Visions of Cody and Tristessa) to seeker of truth (Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels) to maturity (Big Sur).



Kerouac, Jack. Scripture of the Golden Eternity. San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books. 1994.

These classic Kerouac meditations, zen koans, and prose poems express the poet’s beatific quest for peace and joy through oneness with the universe.



Kerouac, Jack. Selected Letters, 1957-1969. Ann Charters, ed. New York: Viking, 1999.

In this second volume of letters edited by Charters, the correspondence begins at the point that On the Road has been published and continues up until two days before Kerouac's death. Through these letters to friends and family, there is poignant documentation of the writer's changing state of mind — from enjoying fame, to seeking seclusion, and eventually stumbling toward his tragic end. Of special local interest are the letters written during the period when Kerouac lived in Northport, New York. The editor chooses well from amidst Kerouac's voluminous correspondence, and her insightful commentary completes any historical information that is not clear.

Kerouac, Jack. Some of the Dharma. New York: Viking, 1997.

A collage of poems, haikus, journal entries, letters, meditations, ideas on writing, notes on Buddhism, prayers, blues, and sketches.


Kerouac, Jack, Albert Saijo, and Lew Welch. Trip Trap: Haiku on the Road. Edited by Donald Allen. Rev. Ed. San Francisco: Grey Fox Press, 1998.


On a rainy night in San Francisco, just before Thanksgiving in 1959, Jack Keroauc, Lew Welch, and Albert Saijo piled into Welch's car and set off on a cross-country trip, headed for New York City and then on to Keroauc's mother's home on Long Island.


Kerouac, Jack. Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha. New York: Viking, 2008.

In the mid-1950s Jack Kerouac, a lifelong Catholic, became fascinated with Buddhism. In this book, Kerouac traces Prince Siddhartha Gautama's life-long search for enlightenment and his encounters with the natures of life, wisdom, and suffering.


Kerouac, Jack. You're a Genius All the Time: Belief and Technique for Modern Prose. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2009.

Asked by his friend Allen Ginsberg to describe his unusual writing style, Kerouac penned the thirty maxims contained in this book. Originally published in Evergreen Review in 2 parts: Essentials of Spontaneous Prose (Summer 1958) and Belief and Technique for Modern Prose (Spring 1959).


Kerouac, Jack. Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac, 1947-1954. New York: Viking, 2004.


Excerpts from his diaries chronicle a pivotal era in Kerouac's life, describing the creation of his first novel; his special friendships with Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady; and his own take on the events described in On the Road.

Kerouac, Jack and Joyce Johnson. Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, 1957-1958. New York: Viking, 2000.


A collection of poignant love letters between Jack Kerouac and Joyce Glassman reveals a tender, loving side to a writer famous for his rough exterior and moody ways.


Leland, John. Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They're Not What You Think). New York: Viking, 2007.


A lighthearted discussion of On the Road profiles Kerouac's classic work as a timeless coming-of-age primer, in a literary study that focuses on the character of Sal Paradise and the lessons he imparts about such topics as work, sex, and spirituality.


Maher, Paul Jr. ed. Empty Phantoms: Interviews and Encounters with Jack Kerouac. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005.


This comprehensive collection of interviews spans the influential writer's career and includes both celebrated and obscure dialogues with such journalists as Mike Wallace and William F. Buckley, in a volume that offers insight into Kerouac's passionate beliefs, literary integrity, and searching spirituality.


MK2 Media. On the Road: The Official Movie Companion. New York: Penguin Books, 2012.


Explores the lasting influence Jack Kerouac and the Beats left on American culture, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the 2012 motion picture film of On the Road.


Montgomery, John, comp. Kerouac at the “Wild Boar” and Other Skirmishes. San Anselmo, CA: Fels & Firn Press, 1986.


In an eclectic collection of articles, stories, poems, and unpublished materials. Kerouac friends and scholars capture, in their own words, the spirit of this influential writer.


Nicosia, Gerald ed. Jan Kerouac: A Life in Memory. Corte Madera, CA: Noodlebrain Press, 2009.


Jan Kerouac was the only child of Jack Kerouac. Like her father, she passed away in her mid-40s. Nicosia, a Kerouac biographer, compiled this book consisting of 17 recollections of Jan by various authors and concludes with an interview with Jan conducted by Nicosia in 1979.

Nicosia, Gerald. Kerouac: The Last Quarter Century. Corte Madera, CA: Noodlebrain Press, 2019.


An account of the fate of Jack Kerouac’s work since his death, specifically in the last 25 years, and the squabbling over the Kerouac estate.

Nicosia, Gerald. One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road and Lu Anne Henderson, The Woman Who Started Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady on Their Journey. Berkeley, CA: Viva Editions, 2011.


Uses personal interviews to tell about the life of Lu Anne Henderson, focusing on her role in On the Road, marriage to Neal Cassady, friendship with Jack Kerouac, and her impact on the Beat Generation.

Northport Historical Society. For Jack: Poems for Jack Kerouac, Gathered from Regional Authors for the Kerouac's Northport Exhibition. Northport, NY: Birnham Wood Graphics, 2000.


Poems gathered from local authors and compiled by the Northport Historical Society for the Kerouac Northport exhibition which took place July 9 - September 3, 2000.

Parker, Brad. Jack Kerouac: An Introduction. Lowell, Massachusetts: The Lowell Corp. for the Humanities, 1989.


Overview of the life and works of iconic writer Jack Kerouac. Printed for the twentieth anniversary of Kerouac's death, October in 1989.


Street Magazine: Jack Kerouac: Poems and Interview. Mastic, NY: Street Press. Volume 1, Number 4, Spring 1975 issue.

Contains haikus by Jack Kerouac and excerpts from a 1964 interview with Jack Kerouac. Cover image is a painting of Jack Kerouac by Stanley Twardowicz. Issue is available in-library only in the Northport Public Library building.


Swartz, Omar. The View From “On the Road”: The Rhetorical Vision of Jack Kerouac. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999.


Through careful analysis of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Omar Swartz argues that Kerouac’s influence on American society is largely rhetorical. Kerouac’s significance as a cultural icon can be best understood, Swartz asserts, in terms of traditional rhetorical practices and principles.


Theado, Matt. Understanding Jack Kerouac. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2000.

This work analyzes the evolution of Kerouac's literary techniques and style. Studies of Kerouac's works often focus on his books in their order of publication, but this author uses the chronological order of when the books were actually written. The author traces Kerouac's use of themes, motifs, and language. Also included is a discussion of how elements of the various fictional plots related to real persons and events in Kerouac's life.


Tietchen, Todd. The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished & Newly Translated Writings. New York, NY: The Library of America, 2016.


A collection of long lost, never-before-published and newly translated writings by the legendary author of On the Road. This work provides insight into Kerouac's uniuqe style of storytelling.


Weinreich, Regina. The Spontaneous Poetics of Jack Kerouac: A Study of the Fiction.  New York: Marlowe & Co., 1995.

Explores Kerouac's place in American literature by establishing the total design of his work. The author contends that Kerouac wrote with a "grand design" in mind, that he thought of his works as one vast book.




Anstee, Rod, comp. Jack Kerouac: The Bootleg Era - An Annotated List. Sudbury, MA: Water Row Press, 1994.

An annotated bibliography of Kerouac writings published “underground,” it provides publishing histories and physical descriptions of the varied materials included. Available for in-library use only at the Northport Public Library building.

Charters, Ann, comp. A Bibliography of Works by Jack Kerouac (Jean Louis De Kerouac) 1939-1975. New York: Phoenix Bookshop, 1975.

In preparation of this book, Charters spent two days with Kerouac recording the author's carefully kept and almost complete collection of his own writings. Comments made by Kerouac during this collaboration are scattered throughout the bibliography and enhance the detailed descriptions of books, pamphlets, broadsides, periodical articles, translations, recordings, and works set to music. Available for in-library use only at the Northport Public Library building.

Milewski, Robert J. Jack Kerouac: An Annotated Bibliography of Secondary Sources, 1944-1979. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1981.

This is a comprehensive, annotated list of reviews of Kerouac's work. Information on works about Kerouac, or works related to his life and writings are also included. The compilation contains a detailed biographical chronology. Available for in-library use only at the Northport Public Library building.




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