ON THE ROAD
The Stacks: Jack Kerouac Was the Winston Churchill of the Beats
Forget William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, the true voice of the Beat Generation was Jack Kerouac. With his life and writing, he defined what this new era stood for.
In 1960, Norman Mailer wrote that Seymour Krim is “a child of our time. I think, sometimes, as a matter of style, he is the child of our time, he is New York in the middle of the 20th Century, a city man, his prose as brilliant upon occasion as the electronic beauty of our lights, his shifts and shatterings of mood as screeching and true as the grinding of wheels in a subway train.”
Krim—1922-1989—was one of our most fascinating and original critics, admired by writers as diverse as Murray Kempton, David Halberstam, Pauline Kael, and more recently, James Wolcott and Dwight Garner (just last month, Garner praised Krim as “something of a failure artist, a man who wrote almost gleefully about never quite making it.”)
Krim was an early champion of Jimmy Breslin and what would come to be known as The New Journalism. Before that, he pegged the Beats as American originals and artists to be taken seriously. Take, for instance, the following essay, originally published in 1965. “The hippies-Yippies have replaced the beats today, but they are the logical and expanded second wave; when their history is written it will all point back unerringly to the homemade anarchistic breakthrough of the Beat Generation.”