Writers and cultural icons Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg are the most celebrated names of the Beat Generation, linked not only by their shared artistic sensibility but also by an abiding friendship that colored their lives and greatly influenced their writing. Bill Morgan and David Stanford shed new light on this intimate and influential friendship in this fascinating exchange of letters between Kerouac and Ginsberg, two-thirds of which have never been published before.
"The Kerouac-Ginsberg letters are marvelous and lively. The exchange ranks among the best examples of completely engaged literary correspondence we know in the past 50 years."—Philadelphia Inquirer
"Stanford and Morgan showcase 200 high-voltage letters, most never before published, that embody the energy and psychic hunger that fueled the creativity of these giants of American literature.... This incandescent collection deepens our understanding of an essential literary revolution."—Booklist
"At times loving, at others blistering, sarcastic, often uncomfortably self-lacerating and intimate, these 200 letters, collected in a heroic editorial effort by Ginsberg biographer Morgan and independent editor Stanford, cover the years 1944–1963, the most fertile in the creative lives of Kerouac and Ginsberg. A disbelieving Ginsberg writes to Kerouac in 1952 that On the Road is unpublishable, while Kerouac asks Ginsberg to treat his magnum opus as the next Ulysses. Kerouac immediately praises Howl in 1955, and in return Ginsberg gives Kerouac the manuscript while recounting, like any hopeful author, how freebies have gone to Eliot, Pound, Faulkner. Throughout, the sometimes sporadic letter writing is filled with fragments of works in progress and pungent observations on the authors and publishing people who influenced them, from Dante and Gide to Malcolm Cowley and Sterling Lord. There also is plenty of gossip about Peter Orlovsky, William Burroughs, and others in the circle. A growing rift concludes the 1950s, as literary fame mixed with alcohol weighs on Kerouac, though these soul brothers reunite through letters of the early 1960s."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)