Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir

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9780140283570: Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir
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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.

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From the Publisher:

National Book Critics Circle Award-winner, Minor Characters has deservedly become known among the cognoscenti as a classic about the 1950s, a vivid and compelling memoir of one woman's coming of age amidst the angels and poets of the Beat Generation. The friend and lover of Jack Kerouac during the two years surrounding the publication of On The Road --the book that made him suddenly and forever famous--Johnson describes with penetrating insight the circle of rebellious visionaries of which she became a part: Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, LeRoi Jones, Gregory Corso. But more than just chronicling the drama of her life with a diffident and often drunken Kerouac, Johnson describes the roles that she and the other women in her circle played as companions and acolytes to their male muses, women who set aside their own needs and ambitions, for a time, even as they searched to find their own voices and shape their own lives. As Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote in The New York Times, Johnson "has brought to life what history may ultimately judge to have been minor characters, but who were to her own generation major enough to shape its consciousness." Anchor Books is proud to be reissuing Minor Characters with a new introduction by the author that helps to place the Beat Generation in the context of the 1990s.

"Realistic rather than flamboyant, Johnson succeeds in portraying the Beats not as oddities or celebrities but as individuals. In wry retrospect, she recognizes the folly of young women rebelling against their well-meaning parents only to become subservient to indifferent men."--The New Yorker

"Johnson writes of Dostoevskian evenings, of Kerouac's disastrous confrontation with fame...of the major Beat voices and the minor characters, their women. It's a terrific book, rich and beautifully written, full of vivid portraits and evocations."--San Francisco Chronicle

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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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Open market ed. Language: English. Brand new Book. 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. Seller Inventory # AAC9780140283570

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Open market ed. Language: English. Brand new Book. 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. Seller Inventory # AAC9780140283570

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Open market ed. Language: English. Brand new Book. 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. Seller Inventory # BZV9780140283570

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Book Description Softcover. Condition: New. Jack Kerouac. Allen Ginsberg. William S. Burroughs. LeRoi Jones. Theirs are the names primarily associated with the Beat Generation. But what about Joyce Johnson (nee Glassman), Edie Parker, Elise Cowen, Diane Di Prima, and dozens of others? These female friends and lovers of the famous iconoclasts are now beginning to be recognized for their own roles in forging the Beat movement and for their daring attempts to live as freely as did the men in their circle a decade before Women's Liberation. Twenty-one-year-old Joyce Johnson, an aspiring novelist and a secretary at a New York literary agency, fell in love with Jack Kerouac on a blind date arranged by Allen Ginsberg nine months before the publication of On the Road made Kerouac an instant celebrity. While Kerouac traveled to Tangiers, San Francisco, and Mexico City, Johnson roamed the streets of the East Village, where she found herself in the midst of the cultural revolution the Beats had created. Minor Characters portrays the turbulent years of her relationship with Kerouac with extraordinary wit and love and a cool, critical eye, introducing the reader to a lesser known but purely original American voice: her own. Seller Inventory # 5335553

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