As for the Beat Generation. Let’s all stop. Right now. This has turned into a Madison Avenue gimmick. When the fall book lists come out, it will be as dead as Davy Crockett caps. It is a pity that as fine an artist as Jack Kerouac got hooked by this label. Of course it happened because of Jack’s naivete—the innocence of his heart which is his special virtue. I am sure he is as sick of it as I am. I for one never beatified nor pummelled. I’m getting on, but I’ve managed to dodge the gimmick generations as they went past; I was never Lost nor Proletarian nor Reactionary. This stuff is strictly for the customers.
As for Jack himself. Yes, I threw him out. He was frightening the children. He doesn’t frighten me, though when he gets excessively beatified he bores me slightly. I think he is one of the finest prose writers now writing prose. He is a naïve writer, like Restif de la Bretonne or Henry Miller, who accurately reflects a world without understanding it very well in the rational sense. For that, Clellan Holmes is far better on the same scene, shrewd and objective; but, as I am pretty sure he himself would be the first to admit, not the artist Jack is, and lacking, because of his very objectivity, Jack’s poignancy and terror. One thing about Jack and Allen Ginsberg, who, I might remind you, are Villagers, and only were temporarily on loan to San Francisco: I had to come back to New York to realize how good they are. They have sure as hell made just the right enemies.