New Works from Kerouac and Woody Allen

Jack Kerouac has a new book out (possibly one he never would have let out of his desk drawer) called “The Sea is My Brother,” which he wrote about his travels in the merchant marine. It’s short, a 158-page work that was unpublished during his life. It was written even before “The Town and The City” (1950) and certainly before his powers as a novelist reached their full fruition. I will probably get time to read that at some point, so I will have a review of it then.

For a better time and a better read, just re-read “Visions of Cody” which is to his own canon, what Finnegan’s Wake is to James Joyce—they are both long novels full of soliloquy from their main characters. For my money, Joyce’s best book is “Dubliners,” while “Cody” is Kerouac’s most sublime long work. In the category of average-length novel, the most over-looked novel of Kerouac’s is “Big Sur.” I believe a movie of Sur is to be filmed in the coming year, but don’t pass up the writing in “Big Sur” to see the movie. The writing you’ll find there is excellent—indeed it’s the best novel ever written about a horrendous drunken week by a horrendous drunk (and there have been a few who wrote well).

Speaking of which, I just read the “Letters of Hemingway, Volume 1” which is a bit of a disappointment compared to the excellent early letters that Kerouac wrote: “Notes from an Underwood,” I believe. I must admit I enjoyed the Hemingway letters to Gertrude Stein—he seemed to pull his best self together for her. She did a lot for his writing. This is quite amusingly dramatized in Woody Allen’s latest film, “Midnight in Paris,” which brings us into the art and literature world of the Parisian 1920s.

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