Jump to content

And the hippos were boiled in their tanks


Recommended Posts

I decided to place "And the hippos were boiled in their tanks" by William S Burroughs and Jack Kerouac in the 20th century fiction rather than the 21st because it was written in 1945, although it wasn't published until 2008. There are 2 main reasons why it wasn't published for 63 years. The first was out of respect for one of the fictionalized characters, who went on to lead a drastically different life than the one portrayed in this novel. The other reason is that it is just not very good.
This book tells the heavily fictionalized story of Lucien Carr's murder of David Kammerer, a homosexual in unrequited love with the bisexual Carr. Kammerer was Carr's mentor in many artistic ways, and therefore, by proxy, a mentor to the fledgling Beat movement.
But it doesn't tell the story very well. This is a boring book, with little tension or plot development. If I hadn't known the story already (there is a much better movie called Kill Your Darlings starring Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg, Dane DeHaan as Carr, and Michael C Hall as Kammerer; the outcome of the story is also spoiled in the inner fly leaf of the book) I'd have been very shocked at the murder because nothing in the novel's storyline or characterizations would lead one to believe Carr was inclined to actually murder Kammerer.
This was written by Burroughs and Kerouac in alternating first person chapters, and was completed ten years before either writer was published. There are flashes here of, not brilliance, but at least good writing. But nothing here would have led me to believe Burroughs and Kerouac would become the iconic authors I have read (although, as an aside, I view Burroughs as being a much better and more creative writer than Kerouac- Jack was good, especially for his time, but Burroughs was great). And as a narrative of such a highly charged and emotional event as the murder of ones mentor, and an integral party in the creation of an artistic movement, this novel falls completely flat.

Edited by megustaleer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...