Archives For Jack Kerouac


This brief essay by ERB Editor C. Christopher Smith,
originally appeared in the very first print issue of our magazine (Advent 2010)…

We reprint it here today in honor of Allen Ginsberg’s birthday.

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AllenGinsberg-AldrichHow Not To Be A Counter-Culture:
A few thoughts occasioned by a reading of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg’s correspondence

Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg:
The Letters

Bill Morgan & David Stanford, editors

Hardback: Viking, 2010
Buy now:  [ [easyazon_link asin=”0143119540″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ] [ [easyazon_link asin=”B003QMLBW0″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]

by C. Christopher Smith


I have long been intrigued by the works and lives of the Beat writers, the spontaneity and attentiveness of their works combined with their critiques of the stifling culture of post-World-War-II middle-class American Christianity have been particularly appealing to me. Although the term “Beat Generation” is commonly used to refer to wide array of American counter-culturalists from the mid-1940s to the early-1960s, Jack Kerouac’s assessment in the essay “The Philosophy of the Beat Generation” (Esquire 1958) that the “Beat Generation” was a short-lived phenomenon in the late 1940s among a tight-knit group of friends based in New York City is widely accepted today. In order to understand this movement, if we accept Kerouac’s definition, we would do well to examine the relationships between those in this seminal group of New York friends. Key among those friends are Kerouac himself and Allen Ginsberg, and there is no better way to trace the arc of their friendship than by examining their correspondence. Thankfully, for ones like myself who have an interest in this sort of study, the bulk of the correspondence between these two writers has recently been published by Viking Books. This volume, entitled Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, paints a vibrant picture of the counter-cultural movement spawned among Kerouac, Ginsberg and their New York friends and its infusion across the American landscape in the 1950s and early 1960s.

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Allen Ginsberg on Jack KerouacToday is the birthday of beat poet Jack Kerouac, and as a special treat, we are featuring a rare recording of Allen Ginsberg overviewing Kerouac’s life and work.


*** [easyazon-link keywords=”Jack Kerouac” locale=”us”]Books by Jack Kerouac[/easyazon-link]


This recording is part of Ginsberg’s Naropa University Archive Project on



Part One:





Part Two:




ALSO of interest…

[ Allen Ginsberg Sings William Blake ]


Image credit: Tom Palumbo, Creative Commons licensed through Wikimedia Commons


The Wake Up CallThe Wake Up Call –
12 March 2013


Like the smell of strong coffee wafting down the hall, we offer a few book-related thoughts and stories to jumpstart your day…


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The next issue of our quarterly print magazine is shipping today…
Are you a subscriber? Each issue features interviews and reviews not available on our website:


“Truth is the cry of all, but the game of few.” – Philosopher George Berkeley, born on this day 1685
*** [easyazon-link keywords=”George Berkeley” locale=”us”]Books by George Berkeley[/easyazon-link]


“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” – Jack Kerouac, born this day 1922
***[easyazon-link keywords=”Jack Kerouac” locale=”us”]Books by Jack Kerouac[/easyazon-link]


Book News:


Thanks be to God for this new day, may it be full of beauty and grace!

The Wake Up Call image via WikiMedia Commons

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Here are a few new book releases this week that are worth checking out:

Our most anticipated release of this week is Brian McLaren‘s new book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World.  ERB Editor Chris Smith wrote about this new book for The Huffington Post, saying: “For all those who mourn the recent deluge of violence in our land, and particularly those who identify themselves as followers of Jesus, Brian McLaren’s Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? is essential reading. The time has come for us to repent of our hostile ways, and to immerse ourselves in all our diversity into the conversational work of imagining a new Christian identity that is marked by peace and kindness toward the other. McLaren’s work will serve well to launch us into the thick of this conversation.”  (Read the full review…)

Our review is in the current print issue, which is on its way to subscribers…

Hardback, Jericho Books.
Buy now [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

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The Philosophy of the BeatsA Long, Strange Road Trip

Feature Review of

The Philosophy of the Beats

Edited by Sharin Elkholy

Hardback: University Press of Kentucky, 2012
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by R. Dean Hudgens.

With the release this summer of a film version of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road (directed by the phenomenal Walter Salles), as well as the publication of the first issue of the The Beat Studies Journal (May 2012) we are apparently in the midst of a revival of interest in the so-called “beat generation”. Was there a “beat generation”? Allen Ginsberg said no, there was only a bunch of writers trying to get published. To Jack Kerouac the beat generation were those “who really know where we are.”

When one former Beat poet was told of a new book entitled The Philosophy of the Beats she asked “Did the Beats have a philosophy?” Well, yes, but only if the word “philosophy” is interpreted in the broad, non-technical sense utilized in this University Press of Kentucky series The Philosophy of Popular Culture (edited by Mark T Conard). As far as I can tell this is the only volume in that series of twenty-five that is not focused on film, television, or sports.

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In the church, in life, one cannot dismiss a person for being less formally educated, nor can naivety be cause for scorn. For those reasons, the novel would be a decent read for those who want to think about and be challenged about the roles of theoretical education and practical application in the church. However, The Sea is My Brother would not be a good introduction to Jack Kerouac and his writing style.

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“Here’s a Life… A Poured Out Cup”

A Review of

Ti Jean: Hearts Crossing the Center Line.
By Bill Mallonee

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

[ In this online issue, we bring you a change of pace:
reviews of two recent literary-themed albums.
This is one of them and
Natalie Merchant’s Leave Your Sleep
is the other… ]

Ti Jean - Bill MalloneeTi Jean:
Hearts Crossing the Center Line.

Bill Mallonee.
Digital Album.
Support the artist,
Download the full album
for only $5.50
(also streaming on the same page
for your listening pleasure…)

I have been listening to the music of Bill Mallonee, and his early incarnations in the band The Vigilantes of Love, for almost twenty years now.  Following in the faith-haunted footsteps of the Southern Gothic writers like Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, Mallonee’s work has consistently mixed masterful storytelling with a deep, dark sense of our human brokenness and a glimmer of hope in the even deeper graces of God. For many years, he was – and probably still is – my favorite songwriter, but being in a state of life where I don’t listen to much music, and buy even less, I haven’t really kept up with his music for over five years.  (Of course, I suspect even the most ardent music fans would struggle to keep up with Mallonee’s prolific work, accelerated it seems by economic woes to a frenetic pace of releasing four or five albums a year for the last few years).  However, when I got wind that he had released an album of songs inspired by the life and work of Jack Kerouac earlier this year, I knew that this would be an album that I would need to own.

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