And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

3.5 17
by William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac
     
 

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

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.

Editorial Reviews

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Distinctly different from their later works, Burroughs and Kerouac's collaborative 1945 novel (unpublished until 2008) reimagines their experience when one of their friends killed his lover.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.)

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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.
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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802118769
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
11/01/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
214
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

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And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
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VDLove More than 1 year ago
I kept reading page by page hoping for something to happen. The series of events like that of a journal of every place you went to and everyone you know with minimal to no humor. I appreciate the map of New York at this time and how interesting it is to think how much things have changed and are still the same. The depiction of the story based on true characters was accurate yet the action began in the end and then ended before you got to enjoy it. It is a quick read but not really a novel which opens your eyes. It was more like a blink of a story through the eyes of close friends. It would probably have been more popular if it was published when it was written. The afterword had more plot than the story. In conclusion, it compelled me to read more books by Jack Kerouac which show more vivid insight into his later developed writing style which I have come to admire. It is a sort of gateway drug into something a little more hardcore, like On the Road.
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