Door Wide Open, Joyce Johnson

On a blind date in Greenwich Village set up by Allen Ginsberg, Joyce Johnson (then Joyce Glassman) met Jack Kerouac in January 1957, nine months before he became famous overnight with the publication of On the Road. She was an adventurous, independent-minded twenty-one-year-old; Kerouac was already running on empty at thirty-five. This unique book, containing the many letters the two of them wrote to each other, reveals a surprisingly tender side of Kerouac. It also shares the vivid and unusual perspective of what it meant to be young, Beat, and a woman in the Cold War fifties. Reflecting on those tumultuous years, Johnson seamlessly interweaves letters and commentary, bringing to life her love affair with one of American letters' most fascinating and enigmatic figures.

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Praise for Door Wide Open:

"Wonderful . . . Conveys Johnson's own growth as a woman and writer in the 1950s, absorbing Kerouac's remarkable freedom." -- New York Times Book Review

"A touching commentary not only on the Beat Generation but on what it's like to be a young woman who loves a gifted, troubled guy with other things — besides love — on his mind." -- Elle

"Johnson's writing . . . is near-perfect, at once compact and magnanimous."-- San Francisco Chronicle

"A tantalizing glimpse of Bohemia in full flower." --  Boston Globe

"An illuminating look at the male-dominated Beat era from a distinctly female perspective . . . In the sympathetic but candid commentary that frames their correspondence, Johnson gazes at Kerouac through the double lens of youth and maturity . . . Johnson's missives are richly descriptive, philosophical, wry, and wonderfully evocative of the Greenwich Village arts scene gathering force in the late 1950s." --  Seattle Times

"Some readers of this wonderful new collection of letters between Johnson and Kerouac . . . will feel a bit uncomfortable with the recognition that the young Joyce Glassman (Johnson's maiden name) — more than a decade Kerouac's junior, a bourgeois Barnard girl . . . and an artist who, unlike Kerouac, found respect but little fame or fortune — by 1957 was already a better writer than he was. Her prose in these letters shows her to be calmer, more astute, more honest, more in control of the tone and meter of her language and, in her way, more exploratory. . . Her strengths beside Kerouac's growing weaknesses explode some treasured myths not only about him and the male-run Beat society but about American writing in general. . . " -- Vince Passaro, New York Times Book Review

“These eloquent, candid, funny, sad, and extraordinary letters between Johnson and Kerouac read like a true-story novel, a compelling, sometimes heartbreaking account of two young writers falling in love in late-fifties New York, as Bohemia blossomed again and cultural revolution was in the air.  Magical, indispensable reading for anyone interested in the Beat movement, or indeed, in postwar American culture.”  - Ann Douglas

Copyright Irene Skolnick Literary Agency 2016