Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir

Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir


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Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir by Joyce Johnson

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
“Among the great American literary memoirs of the past century. . .a riveting portrait of an era. . .Johnson captures this period with deep clarity and moving insight.” – Dwight Garner, The New York Times

In 1954, Joyce Johnson’s Barnard professor told his class that most women could never have the kinds of experiences that would be worth writing about.  Attitudes like that were not at all unusual at a time when “good” women didn’t leave home or have sex before they married; even those who broke the rules could merely expect to be minor characters in the dramas played by men. But secret rebels, like Joyce and her classmate Elise Cowen, refused to accept things as they were.
As a teenager, Johnson stole down to Greenwich Village to sing folksongs in Washington Square. She was 21 and had started her first novel when Allen Ginsberg introduced her to Jack Kerouac; nine months later she was with Kerouac when the publication of On the Road made him famous overnight. Joyce had longed to go on the road with him; instead she got a front seat at a cultural revolution under attack from all sides; made new friends like Hettie and LeRoi Jones, and found herself fighting to keep the shy, charismatic, tormented Kerouac from destroying himself.  It was a woman’s adventure and a fast education in life.  What Johnson and other Beat Generation women would discover were the risks, the heartache and the heady excitement of trying to live as freely as the rebels they loved.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140283570
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/1999
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 206,320
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.66(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Joyce Johnson's eight books include the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award winner Minor Characters, the recent memoir Missing Men, the novel In the Night Cafe, and Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters 1957-1958 (with Jack Kerouac). She has written for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and lives in New York City.

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Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fantastic journey into the beat generation from a woman's perspective. Not only does Johnson share with her readers a look at Kerouac, she gives us an honest look at women as they begin their ascent to the modern women movement we now take for granted in this generation. In her candid portrayal of herself during that uneasy period of our American history, we are given a more honest example then most other writers ever hoped to achieve. A must for persons interested in late 20th Century America and Beat writing, as while as woman studies. A true luck beyond the ordinary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago