'The best book ever written about the Beats'
Minor Characters is Joyce Johnson's memoir of her love affair with Jack Kerouac and her intimate association with others prominent in the Beat Generation: the extraordinary circle that included Allen Ginsberg, LeRoi and Hettie Jones, Gregory Corso, Robert Frank, Willem de Kooning and Frank Kline. She was living with Kerouac when On the Road – the novel that seemed to encapsulate the spirit of the Beats – was first published, turning him into a uncomfortable overnight celebrity.
Johnson's book is a personal memoir and a summation of the times, a story of adolescent rebellion and a desire to choose a different life. She shows how the Beat women, in deciding to break the rules and leave home as unmarried young women in the 1950s, discovered the risks and the heady excitement of trying to live as freely as the rebels they loved.
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award on its first publication in 1983, Minor Characters is an intelligent, insightful and sympathetic portrayal of the individuals who defined the 'Beat Generation' and a personal reflection on the hardship and elation of an extraordinary woman's liberation.