At the End of the Road: Jack Kerouac in Mexico

At the End of the Road: Jack Kerouac in Mexico

by Jorge Garcia-Robles, Daniel C. Schechter
     
 

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“We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic.” Mexico, an escape route, inspiration, and ecstatic terminus of the celebrated novel On the Road, was crucial to Jack Kerouac’s creative development. In this dramatic and highly compelling account, Jorge García-Robles, leading

Overview

“We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic.” Mexico, an escape route, inspiration, and ecstatic terminus of the celebrated novel On the Road, was crucial to Jack Kerouac’s creative development. In this dramatic and highly compelling account, Jorge García-Robles, leading authority on the Beats in Mexico, re-creates both the actual events and the literary imaginings of Kerouac in what became the writer’s revelatory terrain.

Providing Kerouac an immediate spiritual freshness that contrasted with the staid society of the United States, Mexico was perhaps the single most important country in his life. Sourcing material from the Beat author’s vast output and revealing correspondence, García-Robles vividly describes the milieu and people that influenced him while sojourning there and the circumstances between his myriad arrivals and departures. From the writer’s initial euphoria upon encountering Mexico and its fascinating tableau of humanity to his tortured relationship with a Mexican prostitute who inspired his novella Tristessa, this volume chronicles Kerouac’s often illusory view of the country while realistically detailing the incidents and individuals that found their way into his poetry and prose.

In juxtaposing Kerouac’s idyllic image of Mexico with his actual experiences of being extorted, assaulted, and harassed, García-Robles offers the essential Mexican perspective. Finding there the spiritual nourishment he was starved for in the United States, Kerouac held fast to his idealized notion of the country, even as the stories he recounts were as much literary as real.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
11/15/2014
García-Robles (The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico) here turns his attention to Burroughs's protégé Jack Kerouac (1922–69). Drawing heavily on Kerouac's writings and correspondence, his aim is to analyze the role Mexico played in the Beat novelist's life and work. Unfortunately, the book fails to deliver what its title promises. Too much material is devoted to general biography and a rehash of Beat lore that has been covered better and in more detail in earlier works, including Ann Charter's Kerouac: A Biography, Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe, and Barry Miles's Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats. The style of the volume is popular rather than scholarly, a little surprising in a work issued by a university press. The narrative is fast paced and lively; the prose occasionally adorned with overblown figurative language, as is the case in which Kerouac is described as being "hung over as a used syringe." García-Robles sometimes places himself inside the writer's head; at other times he addresses him in asides, e.g., "Some getaway, Jack." VERDICT Given the book's heavy reliance on summary and paraphrase, it seems to be addressed more to casual readers of Kerouac rather than scholars. The influence of Mexico on Kerouac—and a host of other Beat writers—is fertile ground for research, but while the author's general ideas on Kerouac's complex relationship with Mexico are on target, they require more in-depth development.—William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY
Publishers Weekly
09/22/2014
Building on his previous work about the Beats’ time south of the border, García-Robles (The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico) delivers a fast-paced, highly editorialized version of Kerouac’s handful of trips to Mexico. The narrative, scraped together out of the many literary snippets the writer (and his friends) left behind, follows the time line of Kerouac’s intermittent visits, made between 1950 and 1961. With such a wealth of literature concerning Kerouac already in existence, García-Robles doesn’t concentrate on revisiting the facts. Instead, he uses quotes from Kerouac’s fiction to trace his subject’s inner life and place Mexico within the larger context of the famed novelist’s artistic evolution. At times, he even seems to take up the voice of Mexico itself, speaking to the uninformed American traveler. In the end, the book complicates the vision Kerouac presented in On the Road and other books. “ experienced yet another Mexican epiphany: It ‘was one of the great mystic rippling moments of my life—I saw right then that Enrique was great and that the Indian, the Mexican is great, straight, simple and perfect.’ Dream on, Jackie.” (Nov.)
From the Publisher

"With such a wealth of literature concerning Kerouac already in existence, García-Robles doesn’t concentrate on revisiting the facts. Instead, he uses quotes from Kerouac’s fiction to trace his subject’s inner life and place Mexico within the larger context of the famed novelist’s artistic evolution."—Publishers Weekly

"A major addition to the current reevaluation of the Beat Generation."—American Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816680641
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
Publication date:
10/15/2014
Pages:
120
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

Jorge García-Robles is a Mexican novelist, critic, and translator. He is the author of The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico (Minnesota, 2013) as well as the translator of Kerouac’s Lonesome Traveler, Tristessa, Mexico City Blues, Maggie Cassidy, and “Cerrada Medellín Blues” into Spanish.

Daniel C. Schechter is an American writer and translator living in the Netherlands. 

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