Cover image for A map of Mexico City blues Jack Kerouac as poet
A map of Mexico City blues Jack Kerouac as poet
Publication Information:
Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, c1992.


Physical Description:
xii, 202 p. : ill.
General Note:
Paperback edition 2010.
Geographic Term:
Added Corporate Author:


Material Type
Shelf Number
Ebook XX(1399139.1) 1

On Order



In this pioneering critical study of Jack Kerouac s book-length poem, "Mexico City Blues "a" "poetic parallel to the writer s fictional saga, the Duluoz Legend James T. Jones uses a rich and flexible neoformalist approach to argue his case for the importance of Kerouac s rarely studied poem. After a brief summary of Kerouac s poetic career, Jones embarks on a thorough reading of "Mexico City Blues "from several different perspectives: he first focuses on Kerouac s use of autobiography in the poem and then discusses how Kerouac s various trips to Mexico, his conversion to Buddhism, his theory of spontaneous poetics, and his attraction to blues and to jazz influenced the theme, structure, and sound of "Mexico City Blues."

Jones s multidimensional explication suggests the formal and thematic complexity of Kerouac s long poem and demonstrates the major contribution "Mexico City Blues "makes to post World War II American poetry and poetics."

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this new "map" of Kerouac's work, Jones places the 1959 Mexico City Blues at the center of the canon, concluding, "For admirers of Kerouac, it is a hidden gem. For admirers of Postmodern literature, it is an unheralded classic." Although few would doubt the former assertion, few would admit the latter. Jones goes about trying to reclaim and integrate the neglected 242 "choruses" of this book as a fulfillment of "Whitman's demand for a truly comprehensive democratic literature." Though full of theses and assertions, this is both readable and clearly focused scholarship. Good summaries of Kerouac's career and influences join to declare the dual motive of his work: "to reach back in his memory to discover his own origin and to reach out into the world around him to discover its meaning." Successive chapters seek to explain the book's integration of poetry and prose, its auto/biographic basis, its Mexico connection, ties to music (jazz, bebop, and silence), its religious (Catholic and Buddhist) basis, and the spontaneity of stance and form that Kerouac achieved. A solid bibliography and separate indexes to the book and the choruses make it a useful tool for undergraduate and graduate study. Whether or not one accepts the book's thesis as to the eminence of Mexico City Blues in Kerouac's career or postmodern literature, Jones has created an informed study of a much-neglected work in the tradition of the Beat Movement. L. Smith; Bowling Green State University, Firelands College