Thursday, October 26, 2006

9 Unarguable Reasons Why Memory Babe Should Be Republished

WHOLLY COMMUNION, which picks up where the author's previous shared page THE BEAT left off (I have parted company with my previous host because of continuing difficulties with the publishing of posts to the internet), is leading a campaign to get the definitive Jack Kerouac biography MEMORY BABE republished. New books about the Beats appear on the shelves of our bookshops every few months but none of them seems to add anything to our understanding of these very real, but flawed heroes ("messy beat angels" as someone once called them, correctly). Instead they re-present the same information in an increasingly anodyne way for new generations of readers, who as a result are coming to view Jack and Allen as spectacular abstractions rather than real people; they have turned into representations of attitudes they were probably only vaguely sympathetic to at best. They sell books. MEMORY BABE presents a different Jack. A rounded, human Jack possessed of an angelic talent but all too rooted to the pain of everyday love and loss, all too frail emotionally, all too haunted by the Void. Listen America. We know that the Kerouac Estate hates MEMORY BABE author Gerald Nicosia (it's such a badly kept secret I first heard it four years ago from a Welsh poet who warned me I would be on the outs with them if I published one of Gerald's poems in a little print magazine I was doing: I published it anyway)**, but don't they want their boy to be represented in the most truthful way that is available to us? Anything else dishonours Jack, surely.
I now present 9 pieces of evidence to defend my proposition that MEMORY BABE is the definitive Kerouac biography.

1. "In the tent each night, he [Ginsberg] had time to relax as he skimmed through Gerry Nicosia's new Kerouac biography, MEMORY BABE. 'For all its crudities [it] is a monument of Kerouac, smells and tastes like Kerouac, has a powerful impact and a mountain of life detail I'd forgotten, great book,' he wrote. In Allen's opinion, of all the books about Kerouac to date, it was the one that came the closest to capturing his true essence." --Bill Morgan

2."It is by far the best of the many books published about Jack Kerouac's life and work, accurately and clearly written, with a sure feeling for Jack's own prose." -- William S. Burroughs

3."This is the Kerouac I knew, his sufferings and his exultations, his elusive charisma and his maddening moods. At last he has been treated as the serious, searching soul he was. A great writer and a great biographer have come together, and the result is a book that is essential for anyone interested in the development of postwar American literature." -- John Clellon Holmes

4."An enormous labor of love that stands like a monument to its martyred subject. It dwarfs the first three Kerouac bigoraphies that preceded it in single-mindedness, seriousness, intensity and tireless pursuit of detail. It is finally a model of what a relentlessly engaged biography should be." -- Seymour Krim

5."MEMORY BABE is beautiful, deep, seeing. The swift, close focuses and then broadenings of spectrum, combined with Nicosia's painstaking love, put MEMORY BABE in the front rank of the first generation of Kerouac studies." --Michael McClure

6."Through years of research and careful scholarship, Gerald Nicosia has done a great service for literature and for those of us who believed in Jack's genius." -- Carolyn Cassady

7."MEMORY BABE is the most comprehensive and accurate biography of my father that I've yet come across." -- Jan Kerouac

8."Gerald Nicosia is the first biographer who ever bothered to come and talk to me." -- Edie Parker Kerouac

9. "Very impressive, nonjudgmental biography ... thorough in knowledge of subject and smooth, lyrical narrative style ... it integrates well the intellectualism of the author and that of Kerouac." -- Irving Stone

**WHOLLY COMMUNION would be delighted to publish a rebuttal from the Kerouac Estate on the above point. Do you, in fact, hold Mr. Nicosia in high regard? Is the widespread belief that Nicosia has been blacklisted wrong? Email me and I will publish your response in full.