Levi Asher on Kerouac

Levi Asher: “Why does it seem necessary to emulate Jack Kerouac’s travels in order to write about him? I’ve read much critical work on Joseph Conrad, but I’ve never yet heard a scholar claim to have first read Heart of Darkness while actually steaming up the Congo.”

I wish Levi had cited specifics about the professional critics who “still view Kerouac condescendingly when they praise him,” but I suspect he didn’t have enough space to go into detail. Overall though, it’s a nice piece, and I hope Levi expands his considerable thoughts on Kerouac elsewhere.


  1. Thanks, Ed. In fact, this maps back to the exchange you and I had about Luc Sante’s review of the new On The Road “scroll edition” in the NYTBR a couple of weeks ago. Sante declared that the new scroll edition was better than the original “On The Road” … and elsewhere in the publication made it clear that he doesn’t appreciate Kerouac much at all. That’s an example of a condescending attitude right there, I think.

  2. Yeah, I remember that exchange quite well, Levi, which I disagreed with. Nevertheless, you used the plural form of “critics.” So aside from Sante, can you cite any additional examples? 🙂

  3. Well, yes, I can, though strangely both of the following references are also from the NY Times (which is NOT, despite all appearances, the only place I read about books). Here’s Holland Cotter reminiscing about Kerouac and Greyhound buses, from the Arts and Leisure section:


    And here’s Matt Weiland in the NYTBR, reminiscing about Kerouac and Greyhound buses:


    Enough with the Greyhound buses, eh?

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