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Herbert Huncke
Herbert Huncke

Herbert Huncke

The Times Square Hustler Who Inspired Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation


360 Pages, 5.5 x 8.25

Formats: Trade Paper, PDF, EPUB, Mobipocket

Trade Paper, $17.95 (US $17.95) (CA $21.95)

Publication Date: August 2015

ISBN 9781936182800

Rights: WOR

Schaffner Press (Aug 2015)
Schaffner Press, Inc.


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Muse and mentor to Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac—who said of him, "Huncke is the greatest storyteller I know, an absolute genius at it"— Herbert Huncke steps out of the shadow of his more famous peers in this absorbing and tender biography by Hilary Holladay. In this richly-layered portrait, the unsung bard of the streets emerges in all his tattered glory: his painful childhood and adolescent rebellion; run-ins with the law; adventures at sea and riding the rails; and later life in his beloved New York City where he became a legendary denizen and guide to the new bohemians eager to learn from the wily master.


"It is impossible to write about the Beat Generation without paying keen attention to the life and legacy of Herbert Huncke. Hilary Holladay does a magnificent job of documenting Huncke's high-and-low cultural accomplishments. . . . An essential book." —Douglas Brinkley, author, Cronkite

"Herbert Huncke, heretofore a footnote in biographies of the Beats, has long deserved his own biography, and Hilary Holladay, a renowned Kerouac scholar, has given us a fascinating portrait of the man who gave the Beat movement its name . . . a tender and affecting book." —Lambda Literary Review

"Huncke not only gave Jack Kerouac the word 'Beat,' but also introduced him to a truly beat world . . . and had an important impact on American literature. We owe Holladay a deep debt for tracing Huncke's influence with care and wisdom." —Dennis McNally, author, Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America

"This biography goes to the heart. Hilary Holladay has uncovered 'a life of sublime improbabilities.' The facts she reveals are more affecting than the myth." —Jan Herman, author, The Z Collection: Fugitive Portraits (of Algren, Burroughs, Mailer, and other writers) and A Talent for Trouble: The Life of William Wyler

Author Biography

Hilary Holladay is a scholar of American literature and the coeditor of What's Your Road, Man?: Critical Essays on Jack Kerouac's On the Road and the author of Wild Blessings: The Poetry of Lucille Clifton. She has taught at James Madison University and the University of Massachusetts–Lowell, where she was founding director of the Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for American Studies. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.