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The Town and the City

The Town and the City

4.7 4
by Jack Kerouac

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In this compelling first novel, Kerouac draws on his New England mill-town boyhood to create the world of George and Marguerite Martin and their eight children, each endowed with an energy and a vision of life.


In this compelling first novel, Kerouac draws on his New England mill-town boyhood to create the world of George and Marguerite Martin and their eight children, each endowed with an energy and a vision of life.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

The locomotive whistle was howling at the gates of Galloway where years ago as a boy he had lain in his room listening for it in the night dreaming of voyages and great personal events, and he knew that now the sound of the whistle was carrying across the rooftops of his hometown, clear across the river to his family's house on the old road, and he knew that he would never grow old and weary of his life.

Meet the Author

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) was an American novelist, poet, and painter most closely associated with the Beat Movement of the 1950s. His most famous works include On the Road, The Dharma Bums, and Big Sur, several of which have been adapted into films. In 1959 Kerouac released his collection of poems Mexico City Blues. Few authors can claim as large an influence on American culture as Jack Kerouac and his examinations of youth and rebellion.

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The Town and the City 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
joseph_spucklerJS More than 1 year ago
The Town and the City: A Novel by Jack Kerouac is Kerouac's first novel and writing in a semi-autobiographical form. Kerouac needs no introduction to most readers. Everyone has read On the Road or at least, said they have read it. I found Kerouac difficult at first and the writing did not seem to flow right. A friend suggested I read it like the beat performers spoke and suddenly On the Road was very readable. The Town and the City: A Novel needs no special reading and is an excellent place to start for a reader wanting to pick up Kerouac. It flows well and tells the story Peter Martin a local boy who was unsure of himself until a day at football practice changes him. Peter (Jack Kerouac) is compared and contrasted with his brothers. Joe is the easy going trucking driving, beer drinking older brother who makes no more of his life than what it is and is content with it. Francis the wine drinking intellectual who longs for bigger and better things who finds himself in "his own cocoon of tormented adolescence." He does, however, have one of the most emotional encounters in the book. Kerouac in his earlier days loved to compare and contrast. In The Town and the City it is not only the brothers that are examined but the town of Galloway, Massachusetts and New York City. Also compared are the character in both Galloway and New York. In New York Kerouac, as always, remembers his friends. Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs are present with a host of renamed beat friends. War and bankruptcy help drive the story. Kerouac's earlier work is much different from his more well-known later works. The writing is much more standard in format and the storytelling is more traditional than his later works. In a previously unreleased book, The Sea is my Brother (1940) many of the same writing mannerisms can be found. In The Sea is my Brother two brothers are compared and outgoing one and a safe one. They make a composite of Kerouac. In The Town and the City we can also see this in Peter who like Kerouac was a football play and merchant marine. In Joe, we see a bit of the Dharma Bum and traveler. In Francis, we see the wine drinking cynic. There may even be a bit of Ginsberg in Francis who voluntarily commits himself to avoid an unpleasant alternative. Kerouac, even in his early fiction, writes about what he knows and lives. He lived an interesting life with interesting friends and what was not interesting could be changed by writing. The Town and the City provides not only a great story but insight into the so to be famous writer and Beat generation icon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Town and the City is a novel that follows a family as they are all forced to grow up. With storylines unique to each character yet all tied together you learn to love all the characters as you learn of their triumphs and tragedies. Kerouac's first novel leaves the reader spellbound thinking "so that's what life is all about..." He has a special talent to write the things that we all feel yet can never put into words. This is a book that everyone can identify with and is a novel that changed my life. Read it, and hopefully it will inspire you as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is simply put, my favorite book. It's hard to describe why, but sometimes, as avid readers will attest, a book just touches you. This one surprised me, with no real plot, no crescendo to build towards, it's just a wonderfully written narrative of a life that reminded me of the magic available in everday life. The rythm of the writing pulled me into a world at once entirely different yet spiritually parrellel to that of my own. Kerouac, the master of spontaneous prose.