kt_73, November 12, 2008 (view all comments by kt_73)
I was genuinely pleased to hear a woman's voice coming out of the Beat Generation. So many times readers are so caught up in Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassady, that they forget entirely about The Woman's contribution to such an interesting movement. Johnson illustrates that women, too, were struggling to find their own places and voices much like their more famous male companions.
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i8pixistix, October 20, 2008 (view all comments by i8pixistix)
I found this book to be like a little window. Not only does it shed light onto Joyce Johnson at this point in her life but on all the other "characters" coming into focus at the time.
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by San Francisco Chronicle,
"Johnson writes of Dostoevskian evenings, of Kerouacs disastrous confrontation with fame...of the major Beat voices and the minor characters, their women. It's a terrific book, rich and beautifully written, full of vivid portraits and evocations."
by The New Yorker,
"Realistic rather than flamboyant, Johnson succeeds in portraying the Beats not as oddities or celebrities but as individuals. In wry retrospect, she recognizes the folly of young women rebelling against their well-meaning parents only to become subservient to indifferent men."
Jack Kerouac. Allen Ginsberg. William S. Burroughs. LeRoi Jones. Theirs are the names primarily associated with the Beat Generation. But what about Joyce Johnson (nee Glassman), Edie Parker, Elise Cowen, Diane Di Prima, and dozens of others? These female friends and lovers of the famous iconoclasts are now beginning to be recognized for their own roles in forging the Beat movement and for their daring attempts to live as freely as did the men in their circle a decade before Women's Liberation. Twenty-one-year-old Joyce Johnson, an aspiring novelist and a secretary at a New York literary agency, fell in love with Jack Kerouac on a blind date arranged by Allen Ginsberg nine months before the publication of On the Road made Kerouac an instant celebrity. While Kerouac traveled to Tangiers, San Francisco, and Mexico City, Johnson roamed the streets of the East Village, where she found herself in the midst of the cultural revolution the Beats had created. Minor Characters portrays the turbulent years of her relationship with Kerouac with extraordinary wit and love and a cool, critical eye, introducing the reader to a lesser known but purely original American voice: her own.
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