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About The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac:

A groundbreaking portrait of Kerouac as a young artist—from the award-winning author of Minor Characters.

In The Voice is All, Joyce Johnson, author of her classic memoir, Door Wide Open, about her relationship with Jack Kerouac, brilliantly peels away layers of the Kerouac legend to show how, caught between two cultures and two languages, he forged a voice to contain his dualities.  Looking more deeply than previous biographers into how Kerouac’s French Canadian background enriched his prose and gave him a unique outsider’s vision of America, she  tracks his development from boyhood through the phenomenal breakthroughs of 1951 that resulted in the composition of On the Road, followed by Visions of Cody. By illuminating Kerouac’s early choice to sacrifice everything to his work, The Voice Is All deals with him on his own terms and puts the tragic contradictions of his nature and his complex relationships into perspective.


"This is quite simply the best book about Kerouac and one of the best accounts of any writer's apprenticeship that I have read. And it should generate a serious reconsideration of Kerouac as a classical, because hyphenated, American writer, one struggling to synthesize a doubled language, culture, and class. It's also a terrific read, a windstorm of a story." —Russell Banks

“Joyce Johnson brings her immense narrative gifts to this portrait of Jack Kerouac. In these pages, there is an intimacy of knowledge which renders previous accounts of Kerouac's life null and void -- and it's about time!  This is an indispensably honest book about an inimitable American writer, composed by an inimitable American writer.” —Howard Norman

“With The Voice Is All, Joyce Johnson has vaulted from memoir to biography, clearing every hurdle with a portrait of young Jack Kerouac that is as beautifully written as and even more enlightening than her classic Minor Characters. She illuminates the period, brings nuance and new information to twice-told tales, and recasts Kerouac from a beat to a writer. This is the way literary biography ought to be done and rarely is: a revelation.” —Gary Giddins

“Only another writer could have given us this extraordinary portrait of a major artist's challenging apprenticeship and triumphant breakthrough into a new literary style and narrative form. Johnson takes us deep within Kerouac's creative process and tender, troubled psyche; to read The Voice Is All is at once exhilarating and heartbreaking. This is the definitive work on Kerouac, alive on every page; it is also yet another stunning achievement for Johnson herself, one of our most gifted, versatile and powerful writers.” —Ann Douglas

“Joyce Johnson’s knowing and intimate The Voice Is All delivers the most ambitious of biographical results. She restores dignity and intellect to her subject, and gives her readers access to the poignant and complex young man behind all of that charismatic beat prose.” —Brad Gooch

“With eloquence and a wealth of detail, Joyce Johnson chronicles Kerouac's false starts, switchbacks, and re-tunings on his path to a fiction of sheer energy.  This remarkable  portrait of his early years gives a close view of the intense process of one writer's development.” —Joan Silber

“This biography of Jack Kerouac, the product of a lifetime of sifting truth from myth and ruminating about the subject, is arguably her best book.  There is a maturity, wisdom and compassion here that puts to shame most literary biographies.” — Phillip Lopate

“We think of Kerouac as an overnight sensation, but Johnson tells a deeper and more surprising story.  Guided by memory of youthful intimacy with her subject and equipped with thorough knowledge of his works and access to newly opened archives, she strips away myth to give us a nuanced, engrossing biography – an indelible account of a hardworking young man’s inspiring effort to become a great writer.” —Honor Moore


Author Bio: 

Joyce Johnson’s books include the National Book Critics Circle Award winner Minor Characters, Missing Men, Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, 1957–1958 (with Jack Kerouac), and In the Night Café. She has written for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and lives in New York City.


The Facebook Event Page
Joyce's Wikipedia Page
The Guardian interviews Joyce
Vanity Fair Article

Joyce Johnson
The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac
Wed Sep 19, 7:00PM
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Release Party
Audience Q&A
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