The Town and the City by Jack Kerouac

The Town and the City

'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.


Details The Town and the City

TitleThe Town and the City
ISBN9780141182230
Author
Release DateFeb 3rd, 2000
PublisherPenguin Classics
LanguageEnglish
GenreFiction, Classics
Rating

Reviews The Town and the City

  • Joseph
    1970-01-01
    The Town and the City: A Novel by Jack Kerouac is Kerouac's first novel and writing in a semi-autobiographical form. Kerouac needs no introduction to most readers. Everyone has read On the Road or at least, said they have read it. I found Kerouac difficult at first and the writing did not seem to flow right. A friend suggested I read it like the beat performers spoke and suddenly On the Road was very readable. The Town and the City: A Novel needs...
  • Bob
    1970-01-01
    This book floored me, I loved it. This story is jack Kerouac writing as Thomas Wolfe but emerging as Jack Kerouac. Genius! One of his greatest works! Many people dislike Kerouac because they hate or can't relate to his characters. Some people have a hard time reading his free form, Beat, Jazz, style of writing. But that's just all surface material, and that's the point. Between the lines of text and behind his characters are people just like you ...
  • Mel
    1970-01-01
    So this is one of the last Kerouac novels I haven't read. I got a lovely old paperback version but was putting off reading it for awhile. I was a bit worried that it would be too normal a novel written before he developed his style. But I totally still loved it. It was such a great book, started so normal American life of the 30s and 40s a family in a small town with their kids, but then before the end people were shooting up and their were books...
  • Thalia
    1970-01-01
    I found it hard to get into at first, I found it a little too descriptive of surroundings, it's very rural, but I persevered and my god it was worth it. There's no author quite like Kerouac, there's no soul like Kerouac. He's observant and articulate and delivers to the reader an understanding of so much, the lives of many characters are touched in this novel and it amazes me every time the depth to which each character is created, it seems Kerou...
  • Jeff
    1970-01-01
    In what I think I may consider to be Jack Kerouac's best work (indeed), we get a novel that transcends the Beat nomadic zeitgeist of a generation in favor of a very tender, very American, portrait of a bucolic American family as it morphs, changes, collapses, and triumphs (in not that order) over the years.I was refreshed by this novel page after page, enthused at the first turnings, in love with Kerouac's prose style, which is so flawless and te...
  • Jack
    1970-01-01
    My enthusiasm for Jack has waned in recent years but this is still my favorite Kerouac work, by far. It's the one I would recommend to anyone who is put off by the slapdash qualities of Jack's later writings. This is the closest Kerouac ever came to producing a mainstream novel: The prose is poetic, even flowery at times, but the most questionable Kerouac trademark -- aimless stream-of-consciousness passages, AKA "bop prosody" -- is nowhere to be...
  • Velvetink
    1970-01-01
    I was not actually aware that this novel's characters were based on real life figures of the Beat generation until AFTER reading it. That kind of put a different light on it to me. While reading it unaware of the real idenitity of the characters, I was more impressed with his characterization of the difference's between the town and country, the effects of WW2 on everyone and the apparent poverty alongside great wealth in New York. Many of the ch...
  • Matthew
    1970-01-01
    I first tried to read "Town and the City" when I was 21 and I couldn't get into it because I wanted (and expected) it to be like "On the Road" and "The Dharma Bums" and his other Beat writings. Now, at the age of 34, I picked it up again to read and I fell in love with it. There were times when I was wondering if I were truly reading Kerouac or not. I haven't read any Thomas Wolfe, so I can't relate on that level, but this novel reminded me so mu...
  • Sairam Krishnan
    1970-01-01
    A gorgeous, gorgeous read. Kerouac's first book is everything I thought it would be, and more. I had been waiting to get my hands on this particular edition because of the intriguing Penguin Classics cover featuring a cigarette smoking Jack; when I did, I waited for the perfect time to read it. And then took my time doing so.I've been reading it for almost a month now, and I have seldom loved a book so much.Kerouac's timeless story of a small tow...
  • Michael Boyce
    1970-01-01
    I was surprised by this book. I didn't read it for a long time. I won't say the obvious things about it. Many said unkind things about it. Compared it mostly to another writer, in a disparaging way that I find prejudicial, and interesting for that. I didn't read it until recently, even though I've read his other works avidly and some of them repeatedly since I was a teenager. I re-read work very sparingly. There is a lot of good wrting out there ...
  • Bianca Cataldi
    1970-01-01
    Il meccanismo narrativo alla base di questo romanzo è incredibilmente affascinante. C'è Kerouac, ma non è ancora il Kerouac di Sulla strada che conosciamo più o meno tutti. Il romanzo, di per sé molto lungo, nasce come il racconto della vita della numerosa famiglia Martin tra la città (Galloway) e la metropoli (New York) e dei vari membri della famiglia racconta vita, crescita, riflessioni. Poi, però, intorno alla parte terza (con la compa...
  • Olivia
    1970-01-01
    Perhaps one of my favorite Kerouac novels...perhaps one of my favorite novels period. I always pick up his writing due to some insatiable need for clarity and understanding. Kerouac can write about anything and capture such an incredible shared human experience within his pages, something that is even more apparent because he writes about the things that are burning in his mind and heart. He writes about them all in such a way that you ache with ...
  • Jason Baldwin-Stephens
    1970-01-01
    Overall The Town and The City is worth the praise that it receives though I'm surprised that many Kerouac fans claim it to be their favorite when compared to his other works. What I enjoyed the most was were the moments where Kerouac's writing in the nevel exists somewhere between the style he would become famous for and what was clearly the heavy Thomas Wolfe influence he was under at the time of writing this. Those were the moments when I felt ...
  • Ned
    1970-01-01
    and reading this was like sticking my head right into the lost, forlorn, desperate, burning soul of Kerouac... and knowing I'm just where I'm supposed to be. and knowing there's some way to expel all the heartbreak and beauty out of ourselves.... the realness of being... that thing that heaves so often in my chest. and a book can be that. Truman Capote never read this...
  • Greg
    1970-01-01
    Proof Kerouac could have written in any style he wanted to write. It's an amazing, thorough, engrossing novel about a family that collapses as it moves to New York. It's amazing in that it runs contrary to everything Kerouac embraces in his later novels. Here he mourns the breakup of the family, its misguided move to the big city. At the same time it does echo Kerouac's lifelong preoccupation with making the "wrong" decision in life (quitting foo...
  • Joshua Rhys
    1970-01-01
    A unique book in Kerouac's canon, The Town and the City is ultimately a rewarding read. Perhaps more accessable to your standard reader, it flows much more conventionally than his other, more stylistic novels. It follows the ups and downs of the traditonally American (and somewhat cliched) Martin family, with a particular focus on the sons Peter, Francis and Joe. The narrative and setting are not particularly original; the early portions set in t...
  • Whitney
    1970-01-01
    Man, man, man. I don't know what to say about this book, really. It's one of those books with a very simple plot that is simultaneously about everything. It hit me especially hard having recently left the town of my youth for a major metropolitan city. That's one of the main themes: leaving home. It also grapples with the definition of home and why importance is placed on it.When you're a little kid, you think your dad has all the answers. You th...
  • Tim Weakley
    1970-01-01
    I had to keep reminding myself that Kerouac was 28 when this was published. While you can tell that he hadn't quite found his voice yet the elements of his stories to come were already to be seen here. The bebop, drug culture, and New York City elements are a great contrast to the small town beginning, and the ending rural reclamation and reconciliation on the old family home. Kerouac ends the book off with Peter, the lonesome child, starting off...
  • Kevin Kizer
    1970-01-01
    A favorite of mine that I re-read every year during autumn. A wonderful, sad elegy to an America long since gone. Definitely, the most traditional of all Kerouac's novels. You can see (read?) the influence of Thomas Wolfe, which annoyed Kerouac. It's a great precursor to "On The Road", even ending with "Peter Martin" getting ready to hitchhike across the country. For me, the Thanksgiving football bit (which closes the first major section of the n...
  • Colleen
    1970-01-01
    I absolutely love this book. I thought I had a decent idea of Kerouac character, but after reading The Town and the City I really do know him. Written from a multi-biographical perspective, Kerouac tells of his life from several characters, which all serve as part of his own personalities. An absolutely inspiring, sad, funny and honest account of a true Beat prose genius. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in American Literature. O...
  • Paulkelly05
    1970-01-01
    This was my first book I read of Kerouac. It was his only novel before he descended into his free verse drivel. I have only read this book once but I keep wanting to give it another read. I really liked it the first time I read it. It starts off with the family that lives in the country and follows all the kids for a few years as they go out into the world. They each grow differently despite similar origins. I thought a number of the characters w...
  • Kathy Hiester
    1970-01-01
    The Town and the City is Jack Kerouac’s first novel and it can truly be described as a great start. The portrayals of characters and places are brilliantly described and the story has all you could hope for in a great novel: it's touching, infuriating, entertaining and heart-wrenching all at once. The Town and the City is written in a more conservative mode than Kerouac’s later works. However, you can start to see his distinctive style coming...
  • Brett
    1970-01-01
    An amazing book, though very different from later Kerouac. Moments of cutting clarity laced through a sea of vague emotional upheaval. Hard to formulate in words since there's little plot, but insightful of the range of human feeling and need.
  • Keri
    1970-01-01
    Before Kerouac established his stream of consciousness style of writing, he wrote this linear narrative. Wonderful.
  • Beth Bee
    1970-01-01
    Has to be the BEST KEROUAC BOOK ever. Rereading it...
  • Ripley
    1970-01-01
    No one appreciates the love of their family and small town life until they find themselves out of it and making their way in the big wide world. Adventure awaits the Martin family as the older boys, Joe, Peter, and Francis leave their small town of Galloway to go to college. Joe decides against college and instead becomes a truck driver travelling the united states. Peter is the star football player at high school and despite his worries of being...
  • Arthur Thomas
    1970-01-01
    Amazing. I wasn't sure I would enjoy this book but I did. I found myself thinking "I want to re-read this again someday soon" even before I was finished.
  • Bertie
    1970-01-01
    I'd heard this book was a lot different compared to later Kerouac classics, and true it is different in lots of ways especially his writing style. But never for once is it dull and you can sense the magic of Kerouac's prose in every single page. His descriptions of the Martin family members are fantastic and I felt a real connection with all of them throughout the book. All the characters stories are nicely interwoven and you see them grow up fro...
  • T4ncr3d1
    1970-01-01
    Confesso una certa indecisione sul giudizio e soprattuto sul voto da assegnare a questo libro. Indecisione che riflette una lettura scostante, tra sentimenti contraddittori, una lettura lunga e lenta, allontanata e poi ripresa più volte.La città e la metropoli, prima opera pubblicata di Kerouac, ma non la prima composta (sarebbe il quarto romanzo o giù di lì), è sì acerba, ma non troppo, il che non giustifica certi suoi difetti. Il primo: ...
  • Mandy
    1970-01-01
    If I’d read this cold, without knowing who the author was, I don’t think I’d ever have come up with Jack Kerouac. Knowing him as I do primarily from On the Road and the Beats in general, I was astonished to discover this wonderful traditional novel, a real masterpiece of American writing, a contender for The Great American Novel, and a real joy which kept me enthralled from beginning to end. It’s the timeless story of a small-town Massach...
  • Ben Olsen
    1970-01-01
    I'd heard it was Kerouac before he became Kerouac so was unsure what to expect. I loved it, then hated it and then loved it again. The beginning was great, a small town whimsy and some thrilling writing about American football in particular. Then I thought it got a bit lost and jumbled in the middle with too many characters, each brother representing a different aspect of Kerouac's personality but too similar to build separate and distinct storyl...
  • Beth Shirley
    1970-01-01
    As a huge Kerouacophile, I was prepared to dislike this book for being so different from all of his others. But I was pleasantly surprised that it's just another facet really of the Kerouac saga. In so many ways, this is a prelude to On the Road. Thematically, it sets you up for the madness that ensues. Stylistically, it is so closely modeled on Thomas Wolfe's writing that it sets you up for Kerouac to break free in his second novel, as if the st...
  • Beth Anne
    1970-01-01
    just re-read this (jan 2010)...doesn't disappoint.----another one in my top five. looking at the books in my top five make me realize that i'm very predictable in my reads. i like the small town story. i went through this whole "beat generation" thing in college...and i'm certainly not saying that time in my reading life was unwarranted...but i will say that this is the only book that i've re-read more than once from that group of authors and enj...
  • Ayesha Rahman
    1970-01-01
    This book allows us a glimpse into Kerouac’s juvenile soul. We get to see a very different Kerouac here—a young Kerouac in awe of everything around him; a confused, brooding Kerouac baring his young soul's agonies and delights in a way we’ll never see him do again. This somewhat autobiographical book follows the journey of the Martin family as they make different transitions—transition from simple childhood to chaotic, war stricken adult ...
  • Gina
    1970-01-01
    On the Road is so overrated.I was a huge beat fanatic in high school. I even had an embarrassing poetry slam and all that teenage stuff. I think I even tried to iron my hair! I never understood what the big deal was about Kerouac though. He seemed like a hack next to Burroughs and Ginsberg. It read like he was just trying to emulate their coolness and he would try anything to get into their club. The Town and City was written earlier and is a muc...
  • Leoni Horton
    1970-01-01
    I am something of a Kerouac super fan so I may be bias, but honestly this book is beautiful. So truthful and elegant, It may lack the spice we see in Kerouac's later work but I think it holds it own. His prose in parts is like poetry, it rings true what Wordsworth said 'poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings' because you can just feel the emotion in his words. His feelings towards his father, his hometown, his family, his friends...
  • Ana Val tierra
    1970-01-01
    Its a little bit slow at the beginning (at least it was so for me) but once you get into it its great! I can say for sure its my favorite book of Kerouac.
  • Cassie Pena
    1970-01-01
    My favorite of Kerouac's perhaps because I read it when I moved to NYC from Texas. I would like to revisit this.
  • Kristin Maillard
    1970-01-01
    What. A. Long. Story. Reading this on a Kindle, you don't know how "thick" this book is when you pick it up. But, I feel, worth the read. Having picked up and put down "On The Road Again" once or twice in my life, I ended up reading this as a bookbub.com deal and the first half is gorgeous. A large, rambling family set in a lovely New England town. The descriptions of nature and of human behaviour read like poetry. However, a mid-life crisis rumb...
  • Arjun Mishra
    1970-01-01
    This was a strange sensation I experienced.The first 400 pages were amazing. The caliber of writing, the intersection of the Martins' lives, the feelings that manifested through the writing, the sadness I felt on behalf of various Martins, and the influence of world events and town events on their lives. The final 100 pages were boring, like either someone else wrote it or Kerouac was fooling around and flopped. The plot was uninteresting, the ch...
  • Hanna Abi Akl
    1970-01-01
    Exceptional, exceptional book. Classic Kerouac in the meticulous description and attention to detail. Might feel like an overwhelming read at first with all the characters involved as well as the specific attention given to each of them and their lives, but gradually the story moves in a nice flow and connects itself from the different angles to form one of the most beautiful and tragic portraits of american life.
  • Melissa D'andrea
    1970-01-01
    One of my favourites of his. I fell in love with the Martin family, hand noticed the pieces of Jack he put into the characters as well as the similarities to things that had happened in his other works. While written more traditionally then his typical free verse style, it become and easy story to love, and it has Kerouac's brilliant insight and bursts of poetic musings.
  • Peggy Lacorazza
    1970-01-01
    Deep and moving. I think this will stay with you for a long time. The descriptions of locations and of people were so vivid and real.One minor thing: In the beginning of the book he talks about Galloway, New Hampshire, but at the end of the book they're referring to it as Galloway, Massachusetts. Not sure how that happened--maybe it's me who's confused.
  • SerialReader
    1970-01-01
    You can't go wrong with Kerouac, father and authentic voice of the beat generation.The American myth of the road, the freedom and eccentricity of the young beats, the magic of the the Oriental Philosophy, this book represent Kerouac at the very best.Absolutely recommended! Read more on The Serial Reader Blog.