This weeks post is about a book I spoke about in last weeks! (that was a long winded way to say it)
Maggie Cassidy by Jack Kerouac follows Jack Duluoz, a teenage athletic star who one night, in a cold New England town meets the plain and beautiful Maggie. The story looks at friendship, family, the value of education and the confusion of love.
I would like to start off by simply saying how confusing this book was. In my life as a reader I have never came across a book as difficult to read as this one – not just in terms of plot but even more so in terms of language.
Kerouac was a part of the Beat Generation of writers and poets and therefore the ‘spontaneous prose’ that the book is written was always going to be more poetic and abstract. Yet at times I would read whole paragraphs and pages and not understand at all what was going on. Books don’t have to lose meaning or plot just to ascend to ‘artistic complexity’. I think that entertainment is important for all fiction and that shouldn’t be lost to language that was too abstract in its vocabulary and form.
That being said the language was beautiful and did end up teaching me something new about reading all together. After finishing this book it became clear to me that Kerouac weaves a story not to excite via plot but instead excite via language on its own. What I mean is the book forces you to read it not to understand but to simply accept: whole pages were confusing but also I read some astoundingly powerful sentences that captured entire emotions in just a few words. It wants you to appreciate words detached from a wider meaning. It’s poetry.
From what I did understand which, to be fair, was a lot of the novel, the plot was well crafted. The pacing was perfect and it really did feel reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower – one of, if not my favourite book! Make no mistake this novel screams youth.
I’ve tried to capture the ambivalence I feel towards Maggie Cassidy in this book but the best way for you to understand would be to read it.
I give this book a 3.6 out of 5 stars
Keep on reading!
And thanks again Beth.