Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Review: The Voice Is All by Joyce Johnson
The Voice Is All by Joyce Johnson is the type of book I just love. It explores Jack Kerouac's early influences and how he evolved into the writer he became. I honestly have zero interest in Jack Kerouac. He's a writer I read early in college, enjoyed and then moved on to others. This book is marvelous nonetheless.
I agreed to review it because coincidentally I had recently picked up one of Anais Nin's diaries. She was another of his girlfriends who wrote, like Johnson. And Nin, like Kerouac, I read in college and then moved on. Reading her diary I was struck by how narcisistic Nin was....but did get a bit more curious about Kerouac. I vowed to reread On the Road, his classic...but never did. Instead The Voice Is All landed on my doorstep, literally.
Johnson is a different sort of writer than Nin, or Kerouac. She had a long career in publishing and that passion for writing and also detail is evident in the book. Indeed, she is so meticulous in crafting her narrative I have a hard time summing so much up in a blog post. Read the book to learn about life around the time of WW 2 in America for those becoming writers and exploring how our society was changing.
Kerouac became a great writer. What Johnson has masterfully done is bring him and his (sometimes painful) journey alive. She delves into the ideas, books, people and events that crafted his voice.
I love books like this. For those not interested in how someone becomes a great writer...well...parts might not resonate as much. Johnson still tells a great story. This book is one of my favorite reads this year...and I really am not such a Kerouac fan (to repeat). Johnson deserves the credit.