And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

( 26 )

Overview


The legendary novel whose true events inspired the film KILL YOUR DARLINGS

In the summer of 1944, a shocking murder rocked the fledgling Beats. William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, both still unknown, we inspired by the crime to collaborate on a novel, a hard-boiled tale of bohemian New York during World War II, full of drugs and art, obsession and brutality, with scenes and characters drawn from their own lives. Finally published after more than sixty years, this is a ...

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Overview


The legendary novel whose true events inspired the film KILL YOUR DARLINGS

In the summer of 1944, a shocking murder rocked the fledgling Beats. William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, both still unknown, we inspired by the crime to collaborate on a novel, a hard-boiled tale of bohemian New York during World War II, full of drugs and art, obsession and brutality, with scenes and characters drawn from their own lives. Finally published after more than sixty years, this is a captivating read, and incomparable literary artifact, and a window into the lives and art of two of the twentieth century’s most influential writers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The legendary novel whose true events inspired the film KILL YOUR DARLINGS

“A combination hard-boiled murder mystery and existentialist lament– think Dashiell Hammett meets Albert Camus…an essential document of the Beat Generation.” –Gerald Nicosia, San Francisco Chronicle

“[A] persuasive portrait of la vie boheme in all its aimlessness and squalor.” –Amanda Heller, The Boston Globe

“A literary curiosity, a genuine collectible.” –Carolyn See, The Washington Post

“Reveals two giants-to-be in the development stages of their craft…With its evocative rendition of now-vanished saloons, bygone diners, and other landmarks of yesteryear, Burroughs and Kerouac may have inadvertently done for 1944 Greenwich Village what Joyce did for 1904 Dublin.” –George Kimball, The Phoenix (Boston)

"The appearance in print of And the Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks by William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac is a literary event, not only because it drew two of the three leading Beat writers into confederacy, but because the book told a story – of male friendship, gay obsession, and murder – that came to fascinate a score of American authors… It’s a fascinating snapshot from a lost era. If you’re looking for the link between Hemingway’s impotent post-war drifters in The Sun Also Rises, the barflies and Tralalas of Last Exit to Brooklyn and the zonked-out kids of Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero, look no further.” —John Walsh, The Independent

“In alternating chapters, Burroughs and Kerouac serve up a noir vision of Manhattan… Of the two, Kerouac, then in his early 20s, is the more developed writer, though Burroughs, an absolute beginner, already shows some of the interests and obsessions that will turn up in Naked Lunch and elsewhere, to say nothing of an obviously field-tested understanding of how syringes work… For his part, Kerouac recounts wartime experiences in the Merchant Marine, along with notes on the bar scene that would do Bukowski proud.”
Kirkus Reviews

“[Hippos] significantly predates Kerouac’s major novels and illuminates his dynamic and productive literary friendship with William S. Burroughs. … it is very charming. … The conceit of switching back and forth between narrators every chapter also keeps things speeding along—it creates the illusion that one is listening to a radio broadcast from one station, only to have the frequency changed every few minutes, with the narrative sometimes overlapping and the two voices bleeding into another.”
—Andrew Martin, Open Letters Monthly

“Illuminates the links between Sam Spade and Sal Paradise, noir nihilism and Beat exuberance.” —Timothy Hodler, Details

“If you care about either of these beat masters … I don’t see how you can fail to enjoy [And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks]. Slight as it may seem at first glance, it’s an invaluable document of literary history, glimmering with nascent genius.”
—Craig Seligman, Bloomberg News

“Naughtily sexual and emotionally grimy, written is a prose style that is deadpan-dry and larded with hardboiled atmosphere. This oddly titled novel is an engaging literary and historical curio.” —Richard Labone, Between the Lines

“Spellbinding. …with spot-on dialogue and descriptions of seedy bars and jam-packed apartments, the authors serve up a fascinating look at a time of late night parties, casual sex and a devil-may-care approach to life.” —Jackie Crosby, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“An eccentric, engaging, and readable novel… What makes the novel particularly fascinating, however, is its ability to provide a window into the early autobiographical styles of both Burroughs and Kerouac as emerging, unpublished writers.”
—Marcus Niski, The Sydney Morning Herald

“As an insight into the formative years of the Beats, it’s fascinating.”
—Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times (London)

Publishers Weekly

Distinctly different from their later works, Burroughs and Kerouac's collaborative 1945 novel (unpublished until 2008) reimagines their experience when one of their friends killed his lover. The narrative switches back and forth between authors as each write interweaving chapters through the eyes of the characters Mike Ryko (Kerouac) and Will Dennison (Burroughs), cataloguing the descent in Al and Philip's relationship. Ray Porter's impressive reading captures such distinct performances for the alternating chapters that one has trouble believing the Dennison and Ryko chapters are read by the same person. His tone and attitude evoke a sense of grittiness inherent in the text. His strong delivery of the straight narrative along with convincing and consistent vocal characterizations keep the performance lively and engaging. Given how the edgy and almost pulp fiction writing is so different from the two authors' typical works, listeners may be more impressed with Porter's performance than the actual text. A Grove/Atlantic hardcover (reviewed online). (Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In 1940s New York, Lucien Carr, Allen Ginsberg's roommate and friend to both Kerouac and Burroughs, confessed to and was imprisoned for murder. Burroughs and Kerouac collaborated on this novelization of the crime, writing alternating chapters from alternating points of view. While the not-yet-famous Beats submitted the novel to various U.S. publishers, it remained unpublished until 2008. The alternating chapters can feel a bit disjointed, highlighting the stylistic differences between these iconic writers, but two-time Audie nominee Ray Porter's exceptional narration brings cohesion to this bleak period piece. Absolutely essential for all literary collections. [Audio clip available through www.blackstoneaudio.com.-Ed.]
—Beth Farrell

Kirkus Reviews
A potboiler by two noted authors written in 1945, long before they were famous, and published now for the first time. In alternating chapters, Burroughs (then known as William Lee and writing in the persona of Will Dennison) and Kerouac (then bearing the first name John and writing in the persona of Mike Ryko) serve up a noir vision of Manhattan as it might have appeared if Edward Hopper had had only dark pencils at his disposal. Its spirit is more Spillane than Hammett, its opening very much a signal of things to come: "The bars close at 3:00 A.M. on Saturday nights so I got home about 3:45 after eating breakfast at Riker's on the corner of Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue." Taking their title from a true incident involving a zoo fire, the authors proceed to deliver a tale of booze-soaked weirdness that culminates in a murder that has some echoes with another real-life event, when proto-Beat Lucien Carr stabbed a suitor to death and was packed off to an asylum. Of the two, Kerouac, then in his early 20s, is the more developed writer, though Burroughs, an absolute beginner, already shows some of the interests and obsessions that will turn up in Naked Lunch and elsewhere, to say nothing of an obviously field-tested understanding of how syringes work ("I let the solution cool, then sucked it up into the hypodermic, fitted on the needle, and started looking around for a high vein on my arm"). For his part, Kerouac recounts wartime experiences in the Merchant Marine, along with notes on the bar scene that would do Bukowski proud. When the manuscript made the rounds back in 1945, it found no publisher, for reasons that will soon become apparent to the reader, and ended up in a filingcabinet. Its publication will (possibly) benefit American literature. More likely it will benefit agents and estates. More of interest as a literary curio than as a work of art, though shrewd neobopsters will probably want to be seen with copies in hand.
The Barnes & Noble Review
Years before Burroughs and Kerouac catapulted to respective literary fame with Naked Lunch and On the Road, the two men collaborated on a fictional retelling of a real-life case of murder that is only now seeing the light of day. In 1944, a drunken brawl spurred their friend (and future influential Beatnik) Lucien Carr to kill David Kemmerer, whose ongoing advances he had spurned, and the resulting fracas -- in which both Kerouac and Burroughs were arrested as accessories to the crime because neither reported it to the police -- resulted in this hard-boiled tale of Manhattan's grimy, sexually teeming underbelly. Alternating chapters, the two young writers fashioned a novel with prose so spare, atmosphere so thick, and language so bone dry it would have been right at home with the Gold Medal or Ace Double paperback-original houses, had they existed at the time. There's some eerie foreshadowing as Burroughs's stand-in, "Will Dennison," rejects complex emotional entanglements with the female sex by wondering "why can't we do away with women altogether," while some characters mock the half-French ancestry of "Mike Ryko," shared with his alter ego. Hippos, summarily rejected by publishers upon the manuscript's completion more than 60 years ago and more or less dismissed by both writers thereafter, should be considered more an entertaining (if somewhat melancholic) curiosity than a standout achievement on either writer's part. Diehard Kerouac and Burroughs fans, however, should seek this volume out for its insight into what these brash young talents would later become. --Sarah Weinman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802144348
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 214
  • Sales rank: 106,690
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Prologue

Book I. IHTFP

Introduction

I. Halos and Horns

2. Imagination Is Funny

3. Showdown

Book II. Fields of Fire

Introduction

4. Fire at Sea

5. Music Bingo, Dummy Math, and Gamma Rays

6. Welcome to the Gallant Marines

7. The Crown Prince

8. The Bloody Filter

9. Do You Want to Go Home?

10. The Cherry Boy

11. The Natural

12. Trusting the System

13. 'Tis the Season to Be Jolly

14. Stranger in a Strange Land

15. The Reasonable and Honest War Criminal

16. Long Tall Sally

17. The Water Walker

18. Adult Education

19. A Tutorial with the Greats

20. Reentry

21. A Change of Heart

22. Pug Henry

23. Women Can't Fight

24. Guerrilla Warfare

25. Garlic in a Crowded Elevator

Book III. The Nightingale's Song

Introduction

26. Ollie, Bud, and John

27. The Candidate from Hanoi

28. Scorpions in a Jar

29. Noble Cause Redux

30. The Doubters

31. The Presbyterian Climax

32. Put 'Em Up, Put 'Em Up

33. Remember Yamamoto

34. An Alien Presence

35. I Don't Have Any Life

36. The White Tornado

37. The Biggest Hawk and the Biggest Dove

38. Where Was Al Krekich When We Needed Him?

39. Chinatown

Epilogue

A Note on Research Methods

Notes

Bibliography

Interviews

Acknowledgments

Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 26 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    NOT a murder mystery!

    I try my best not to read the backs of books before I read them. I often find that they give away too much information before I even open the front cover. This book was the opposite. Let me quote, "A combination hard-boiled murder mystery and existentialist lament..." Well, I agree with that sencond part. In that regard it was brilliant. It kind of reminded me of "Rebel Without a Cause" in that it was a group of people living by a certian ideal then it just got out of hand, but in a subtle kind of way, if that makes sense. I was struck by the fact that even though they were more or less hoodlums, they were very cultured. They read books and went to French films, etc.

    What bothered me was that this book is in no way, shape or form a murder mystery. There is a murder, but it doesn't happen until the second to last chapter and we know exactly who did it and why he did it. When I realized this was the case (about half way though the book) I began to enjoy it a lot more. It was, however, and interesting journey getting there. I didn't know who the victim would be and it was fun trying to guess. I had theories, and I wasn't far off, but I didn't guess it.

    Please don't read it expecting a murder mystery. Read it expecting an itersting portrayal of a generation. I imagine it's a pretty accurate portrayal, as the authors lived during that time and could have been among that crowd.

    It's a great read, although a quick read, and I would recommend it any bibliofile! :)

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Brilliant

    I adore William S. Burroughs! His writing style may not be for everyone & many may think this book may be a little dry but this is an easy read & enjoyable. Having Kerouac & Burroughs together is any readers dream.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Good Collaboration.

    And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac was a true pleasure to read. I would not say that the book was a true thriller but it did have it's moments. Al's love for the heterosexual Phillip did lead to some interesting scenarios. What I really enjoyed about And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks was that it was a mirror into the world of the writers (the story is based on a fact) and how the party culture took center stage but did not dominate the story. Burroughs and Kerouac centered the story around six friends who would drink, eat and do drugs when they were not working or trying to work. I lived those days so I could relate. This story also makes the point that friendships do not always lead to positive situations (fights happen). Basically this story is told with the reality of human nature. Definately recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2014

    Cool

    I guess the title drew me in and then my eyes did the rest! I wish there was some murder mystery in it. I didnt like Phillip though for some reason. It was just his character. The rest of the book was amazing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    It was a little slow at the beginning, but I thought it came tog

    It was a little slow at the beginning, but I thought it came together nicely. Loved it! I especially loved the back story behind the book. :)

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  • Posted January 1, 2012

    One of the coolest novels

    It's such a good read, there is a mixture of both Jack and William in each chapter....... A must read for beat fans

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  • Posted December 30, 2010

    Great Novel

    Kerouac and Burroughs write alternating chapters in this long lost novel. Any fan of Beat writers or the generation I would definitely recommend. The books plot has roots in factual events, which add to the mystique. I personally loved it.

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  • Posted January 18, 2009

    Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs!

    And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks is an early collaboration between celebrated writers Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. They have written, in alternating chapters, a fictionalized account of the summer when one of their friends murdered another of their friends. This is definately a novel of the Beat Generation, set in New York and full of drugs, alcohol, art and violence. The charcters are lost indiviuals, unsure of who they are or where they belong. <BR/>I usually have a hard time understanding this kind of book, the Beat Generation is one I just don't get. But I found the characters in this book more understandable and sympathetic. It gave me a taste of Kerouac and Burroughs early writing style that I appreciated. <BR/>I listened to the audio version of this book and Ray Porter does a good job distinguishing between the two narrators of the story.

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