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Action Writing

Action Writing

Jack Kerouac's Wild Form

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Michael Hrebeniak


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
320 pages, 6 x 9


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About the Book

Action Writing: Jack Kerouac's Wild Form connects the personal and creative development of the Beat generation's famous icon with cultural changes in postwar America. Michael Hrebeniak asserts that Jack Kerouac's "wild form"—self-organizing narratives free of literary, grammatical, and syntactical conventions—moves within an experimental continuum across the arts to generate a Dionysian sense of writing as raw process. Action Writing highlights how Kerouac made concrete his 1952 intimation of "something beyond the novel" by assembling ideas from Beat America, modernist poetics, action painting, bebop, and subterranean oral traditions.

Geared to scholars and students of American literature, Beat studies, and creative writing, Action Writing places Kerouac's writing within the context of the American art scene at midcentury. Reframing the work of Kerouac and the Beat generation within the experimental modernist and postmodernist literary tradition, this probing inquiry offers a direct engagement with the social and cultural history at the foreground of Kerouac's career from the 1940s to the late 1960s.


Michael Hrebeniak is a Lecturer in English at the University of Cambridge.


"In Michael Hrebeniak's Action Writing: Jack Kerouac's Wild Form, we at last have a full-length study of Kerouac that does justice to the depth of his intellect and the significance of his formal innovations."—The Beat Review

"Michael Hrebeniak has opened up serious issues that are always overlooked—propaganda, Marcuse, Olson's Human Universe, for starters. Hrebeniak's assessment of Kerouac's work as a 'swirling meditation on memory and recirculation of events' is a beautiful portal swinging wide. A complete success."—Michael McClure, poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright