Written over the course of three days and three nights, The Subterraneans was generated out of the same kind of ecstatic flash of inspiration that produced another one of Kerouac's early classics, On The Road. Centering around the tempestuous breakup of Leo Percepied and Mardou Fox—two denizens of the 1950s San Francisco underground—The Subterraneans is a tale of dark alleys and smoky rooms, of artists, visionaries, and adventurers existing outside mainstream America's field of vision.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A delirious chronicle of young interracial love in mid–20th century San Francisco, The Subterraneans is pure, uncut Beat Generation. Via a stream-of-consciousness gush, the novel’s shiftless boho narrator ushers us deep into a world where literary and romantic arguments are equally common. After Leo lays his woes at the feet of a clinically fragile African-American woman, the pair launch into a volatile relationship. Jack Kerouac’s captivating storytelling is built upon a swirl of massed tensions, drunken revelries, and layered flashbacks that feel breathtakingly alive.
No one does stream of consciousness writing like Jack Kerouac in this story of a bop romance between Leo and Mardou set in San Francisco in the 1950s. There’s a little Kerouac in all of us but there is a lot of Kerouac in Jack Kerouac. Best read aloud while listening to Charlie Parker recordings.