The Writings of Jack Kerouac

Look into the mirror. You have just captured the essence of what Jack Kerouac spent his entire literary career doing.

Almost everything he wrote was autobiographical. Like Thomas Wolfe, he saw writing as identical with introspection. The word 'fiction' does not really describe his work. It was more like self-directed psychoanalysis, except that his outlook was more religous and tragic than psychological.

His books are crowded with his friends, lightly disguised behind new names. Allen Ginsberg, for instance, appears variously as Carlo Marx, Adam Moorad, Irwin Garden, Leon Levinsky and Alvah Goldbrook. Late in his life, Kerouac even considered publishing a unified edition of all his works, with all the characters representing himself appearing under a single name, Jack Duluoz (French for 'Jack the Louse').

I normally list writings by date of publication, but in Kerouac's case the date of publication is less relevant, as he wrote most of his novels during the long hungry period between the publication of his first and second novels. He then published them one at a time through the rest of his life. For this reason, I'll list the works according to the period of his life that they reflect, rather than publication date.

I compiled this from various sources. At this point it's far from complete -- for instance it does not include numerous magazine articles that have never been published in book form. I also can't guarantee that there are no mistakes, though I don't think there are any. If you find one, please let me know.

Autobiographical Novels

Visions of Gerard (written 1956, published 1963)
About Kerouac's saintly older brother, who died as a child.

Doctor Sax (written 1952, published 1959)
Fantasies of good vs. evil characters hiding behind trees and lurking around corners in Lowell. Interesting glimpse of Kerouac's childhood fantasy world and busy small-town life.

Maggie Cassidy (written 1953, published 1959)
Youthful porchlight romancing in Lowell.

The Town and the City (written 1946-49, published 1950)

Vanity of Duluoz (written and published 1968)
Kerouac's last published novel, a memoir of early days.

On The Road (written 1948-56, published 1957)

Visions of Cody (written 1951-52, published 1972)
More about Neal Cassady.

The Subterraneans (written 1953, published 1958)
Kerouac's pathetic love story about a black girl who dumps him for Gregory Corso.

Tristessa (written 1955-56, published 1960)
Junkie prostitute girlfriend in Mexico.

The Dharma Bums (written 1957, published 1958)

Desolation Angels (written 1956-61, published 1965)
Buddhist retreat in the Cascade Mountains.

Big Sur (written 1961, published 1962)

Satori in Paris (written 1965, published 1966)
A trip to find Kerouac ancestors in Paris.

Other Novels

Pic (written 1951/1969, posthumously published 1971)
Adventures of a black child in the South.

Prose Collections

Lonesome Traveler (published l960)
Excerpts and unpublished writings with a travel theme.

Poetry

Mexico City Blues (published l959)

Pomes All Sizes
City Lights Books

Scattered Poems (published posthumously l971)

Buddhist Writings

Wake Up, or Some Of The Dharma (written 1954-55, recently published in Tricycle, the Buddhist journal)
A straightforward religous biography of Siddhartha Guatama, the Buddha.

The Scripture of the Golden Eternity
A freestyle sutra -- check it out!

Other Prose

Book of Dreams (published l960)
Transcriptions of dreams.

Films

Pull My Daisy (1961)
Experimental film by Robert Frank, with narration by Kerouac.

Recordings

Poetry For The Beat Generation (1959)
With Steve Allen on piano. Short poems.

Blues and Haikus (1959)
Featuring Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. Haikus and other things.

Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation (1960)
Unaccompanied. Poem fragments and prose readings.

Literary Kicks
by Levi Asher