The Town and the City

The Town and the City

by Jack Kerouac

Paperback(First Edition)

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156907903
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/21/1970
Series: Harvest Book
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 292,508
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) was born in Lowell, Massachusetts to French-Canadian parents. The author of On the Road, Dharma Bums, Desolation Angels, and Big Sur, among other books, he is widely regarded as the preeminent writer of the Beat generation.

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.

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The Town and the City 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
RossWilliam on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kerouac's first novel is a very conventional all-american story that seems very biographical. The story is very linear and epic, spanning a good portion of the Martin's lives. The story like life is funny,endearing, tragic and honest. The pace is undeniably slow, yet every word counts. Towards the end of the novel you hear glimpses of Kerouac's future writing style which is the biggest payoff of the novel, because where "The Town and the City" ends "On the Road" picks up seamlessly, together they form one amazing story that is truly unforgettable.
Polaris- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Despite reading this many years ago, this novel has stood out in my mind as one of Kerouac's best. It's almost certainly his most underated as the author himself later disowned the lyrical Wolfean narrative style in which it was written. In many ways it is a far more pleasing read than his better known 'spontaneous prose' style of On The Road and his other later works. This story has a real charm and beauty of its own, and brings to life the 1930s of Kerouac's childhood in New England.Full of colour and sounds, rivers, woods, abandoned lots, mysterious back-alleys, steamy lunch counters, brooding brick factories, and the ever-present looming churches and cemeteries... This novel has a real feeling of depth of place and a true sense of the working class characters of depression era America which fill it. As a debut novel I think it clearly shows the literary class which Kerouac undoubtedly had, though possibly failed to broaden with some of his more disjointed later work. A rewarding read.
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.
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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.