On a blind date in Greenwich Village set up by Allen Ginsberg, Joyce Johnson (then Joyce Glassman) met Jack Kerouac in January 1957, nine months before he became famous overnight with the publication of On the Road. She was an adventurous, independent-minded twenty-one-year-old; Kerouac was already running on empty at thirty-five. This unique book, containing the many letters the two of them wrote to each other, reveals a surprisingly tender side of Kerouac. It also shares the vivid and unusual perspective of what it meant to be young, Beat, and a woman in the Cold War fifties. Reflecting on those tumultuous years, Johnson seamlessly interweaves letters and commentary, bringing to life her love affair with one of American letters’ most fascinating and enigmatic figures.
Johnson’s writing…is near-perfect, at once compact and magnanimous.”
A tantalizing glimpse of Bohemia in full flower.”
These eloquent, candid, funny, sad, and extraordinary letters between Johnson and Kerouac read like a rue-story novel, a
compelling, sometimes heartbreaking account of two young writers falling in love in late-fifties New York, as Bohemia
blossomed again and cultural revolution was in the air. Magical, indispensable reading for anyone interested in the Beat
movement, or indeed, in postwar American culture.”
A touching commentary not only on the Beat Generation but on what it’s like to be a young woman who loves a gifted, troubled guy with other things—besides love—on his mind.”