Empty Phantoms: Interviews and Encounters with Jack Kerouac

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Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 505 pages
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Empty Phantoms: Collected Interviews with Jack Kerouac gathers together, for the first time in one volume, all known printed, recorded, and filmed interviews—including those celebrated, infamous, or obscure—with the acclaimed American writer and father of the Beats, Jack Kerouac.

In many instances, the interviews are transcribed from original tapes and are either unabridged, like the famous "Paris Review" interview in which the journal was excised for space constraints, or unexpurgated, such as in the infamous Northport Library interview, which had been edited to avoid issues of libel and charges of anti-Semitism. Editor Paul Maher, one of the leading young lions of Kerouac scholarship, has scoured newspapers to glean interviews unseen for decades.

Although many top-notch journalists, from Mike Wallace to William F. Buckley, conducted the interviews, it is Kerouac who dominates the proceedings, with his energy, wit, passion, anger, astute insights, playfulness, literary integrity, and searching spirituality. Best of all, the interviews are replete with Kerouacisms like "walking on water wasn't built in a day, wisdom is heartless," and "pity dogs and forgive men," which have been a cherished aspect of Kerouac's literature.

Beyond his own works, this living portrait of Kerouac isn't available anywhere else.

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About the author (2005)

Paul Maher, Jr., is one of the young lions of Kerouac scholarship; what's more, many of Kerouac’s family, friends, and contemporaries (including John Sampas and David Amram) endorse Maher. Maher served as editor of The Kerouac Quarterly, to which he contributed, and wrote "The Seeds of Galloway: Jack Kerouac’s Lowell" (Eastern National, 1999), published for America’s National Parks system. He also teaches a course on Kerouac at Middlesex Community College.

Maher’s "Kerouac: The Definitive Biography" (Taylor Trade Publishing, June 2004), based entirely on primary sources, is the most thoroughly researched and comprehensive life of Kerouac to date. It's been selected by both "Biography" magazine and "Vanity Fair" for their "Hot Lists." It's also received endorsements from Kerouac's literary executor John Sampas, composer David Amram (author of "Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac"), and historian Douglas Brinkley (author of "Rosa Parks;" "The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey beyond the White House;" and "American Heritage's History of the United States"). UPDATE: In April '05, "Kerouac" was named a finalist for the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award in the category of biography.

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