Track A Writer: Joyce Johnson

In her book Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir, Johnson talks about the Beat Generation in New York City and recounts her affair with Jack Kerouac. In one passage she talks about the “slums” which is how she refers to the Lower East Side. This area was left behind by children of lower-class parents making way for “loosely defined.. ‘artists'” to rent and eat for cheap. Johnson’s mother wonders why she loves the streets that her grandparents worked so hard to stay off of. This memoir captures Johnson’s experience as a Beat writer, which I find more fascinating than her relationship with Kerouac, which is sort of a biography of him (this is not boring, just not as exciting to me).

Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir was originally published in 1983 by Penguin and won the National Book Critics Circle Award.


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