“The apple pie was more than just ‘nutritious, man.’” Despite frequent critical fixation on the jazz aspects of Jack Kerouac's oeuvre, this reconsideration of the author's canon poses food as a central theme of the Duluoz Legend and analyzes the ways in which Kerouac thought and wrote about food as an object, literary motif, and cultural conduit—modes of thought that, despite previous tracing of contemporary food culture to the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, lead almost directly to many current food issues, practices, and debates. Grounded in Kerouac's attentive engagement with the agricultural overtures of Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West, this article discusses how Kerouac understood, played with, and utilized food as a means of cultural comprehension and then—via jazz—cultural subversion within the “decline” of the West, primarily through his novels The Town and the City (1950), On the Road (1957), and The Dharma Bums (1958).
Food Is the New Jazz?: Jack Kerouac and Food Writing
Bo McMillan is a second-year doctoral student in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University interested in urban studies, cultural studies, and contemporary American literature. He works as a research assistant for Professor Patrice Derrington of Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; dabbles in fiction and other creative writing; and continues to write about food and drink in his few and fleeting gasps of spare time. His work has previously appeared in print and online for outlets such as All About Beer, CNBC, Craft Beer & Brewing, Paste, and the Orange County Register.
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Bo McMillan; Food Is the New Jazz?: Jack Kerouac and Food Writing. Gastronomica 1 November 2018; 18 (4): 13–25. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2018.18.4.13
Download citation file: