By the time Lucien Carr stabbed David Kammerer to death on the banks of the Hudson River in August 1944, it was clear that the hard-partying teenage companion to Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs might need to reevaluate his life. A two-year stint in a reformatory straightened out the wayward youth but did little to curb the wild ways of his friends.
MANIA tells the story of this remarkable group—who strained against the conformity of postwar America, who experimented with drink, drugs, sex, jazz, and literature, and who yearned to be heard, to remake art and society in their own libertine image. What is more remarkable than the manic lives they led is that they succeeded—reshaping their own generation and inspiring those that followed. From the breakthrough success of Kerouac’s On the Road to the controversy of Ginsberg’s Howl and Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, the counterculture was about to go mainstream for the first time, and America would never be the same again.
Based on more than eight years’ writing and research, Ronald Collins and David Skover—authors of the highly acclaimed The Trials of Lenny Bruce—bring the stories of these artists, hipsters, hustlers, and maniacs to life in a dramatic, fast-paced, and often darkly comic narrative.
Advance Praise for MANIA:
“Collins and Skover offer a vivid retelling...those in search of a good story and the raw, compelling ‘feel’ for the mindset and actions of the Beats will be rewarded....The madcap, savage world of the Beats is laid out in spades.”
"Stunning, disturbing, and remarkably intimate."
“A balanced history—sometimes admiring, sometimes blistering—of the writers who fractured the glass capsule of literary conformity.”
“MANIA is a stunning and chilling portrait of rebellious youth gone mad. The story descends into a netherworld of heroes and antiheroes, killers and creators, junkies and geniuses. Collins and Skover, through a thrilling narrative and unprecedented research, reveal how a misfit band of brothers, dreamers, and vagabonds broke old ties, abandoned families, and lived by their own rules to concoct an ecstatic and uninhibited vision of literary modernism. From the macabre killing that opens the book to the grand free speech victory at its climax, MANIA is both a celebratory and cautionary tale of American revolt. A remarkable achievement!”
—James L. Swanson
“Ron Collins and David M. Skover’s MANIA is the Outlaw Manifesto of the Cold War era. Wild-eyed and high-octane capers by Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg are told here with vivid freshness. Kick out the doorjambs and read the rollick. A fine rollercoaster of a literary ride.”