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Publisher's Summary

More than 60 years ago, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, two novice writers at the dawn of their careers, sat down to write a novel about the summer of 1944, when one of their friends killed another in a moment of brutal and tragic bloodshed. Alternating chapters, they pieced together a hard-boiled tale of bohemian New York during World War II, full of drugs and obsession, art and violence. The manuscript, named after a line from a news story about a fire at a circus, was rejected by publishers and confined to a filing cabinet for decades. Now, for the first time, this legendary collaboration between two of the 20th century's most influential writers is being released. Both a fascinating piece of American literary history and an engrossing, atmospheric novel, it brings to life a shocking murder at the dawn of the Beat Generation.
Walk the Beat with Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.
©2008 the Estate of Jack Kerouac and the William S. Burroughs Trust (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jeff on 08-20-09

Pre-Beat Lit, instant classic!

I was skeptic... lost book? Burroughs and Kerouac? Does the phrase "too good to be true" come to mind. Yet, to my delight, this could turn out to be one of my favorite pieces of midcentury counter-culture lit. Jack and William take turns with chapters, allowing a really neat multi-perspective view of the controversial plot. Ray does a great job reading, as usual. The epilogue is a great treat, the true story behind the novel.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Scott on 08-30-15

Not a great story.

Put into the context of a biography written many years before the characters/authors of the Beat Generation, this story is interesting.

As a stand alone piece, the story is not very good.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Mr. C. G. Moore on 03-14-17

flat, uninteresting and dissapointing

What disappointed you about And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks?

if you've read the schpeel and know it's about a murder then that is the only interesting bit spoilt, it is also dealt with in the last 20mins. This is not hard-boiled and full of sex and violence but a few dreary fumblings and a murder that is bearly mentioned. It doesnt tick any box, not pulpy enough to be pulp, not artistic or poetic enough to be art. The 2 writer's different viewpoints and styles is a little interesting but nothing really happens. There is a great story to be told, just look up the real murder on wikipedia. And if wikipedia do a better job than, not one, but two writers you are doing something wrong. Love the title but this should have never seen the light of day

What will your next listen be?


Which scene did you most enjoy?

It was all just aimless and I was just waiting to get to the murder that was spoilt in the blurb

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks?

I would open with the murder (as promised on the back of the book), then present flashbacks to how it got to that point. The obsessions, the relationships between characters, the creepiness. Little things suggested in the beginning of the book, playing out to the final outcome. Things develop to a feverpitch, present it as a suspense novel. None of that is in this novel.

Any additional comments?

It could have been a Hitchcockian style thriller suspense, or a good character study, or an atmospheric portrayal of New York in 1944. But it is none of those.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Rachel on 06-04-18

A Reversal of Fortune

I am not a natural fan of Beat literature, so this book had to work that bit harder to convince me. It did. Unlike most books which start with a bang and build, only to end like a sweaty limp handshake - unsatisfactory and vaguely repulsive, this book starts slowly and unconvincingly but builds to such an earth shattering crescendo that both literally and artistically shook America. I also think that this book would work better as a physical book, rather than an audiobook, I was frustrated by my inability to flick back and forth through it. Overall, recommended and encouraged, and give it time to grow on you.

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