National Book Critics Circle Award-winner, Minor Characters has deservedly become known among the cognoscenti as a classic about the 1950s, a vivid and compelling memoir of one woman's coming of age amidst the angels and poets of the Beat Generation. The friend and lover of Jack Kerouac during the two years surrounding the publication of On The Road --the book that made him suddenly and forever famous--Johnson describes with penetrating insight the circle of rebellious visionaries of which she became a part: Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, LeRoi Jones, Gregory Corso. But more than just chronicling the drama of her life with a diffident and often drunken Kerouac, Johnson describes the roles that she and the other women in her circle played as companions and acolytes to their male muses, women who set aside their own needs and ambitions, for a time, even as they searched to find their own voices and shape their own lives. As Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote in The New York Times, Johnson "has brought to life what history may ultimately judge to have been minor characters, but who were to her own generation major enough to shape its consciousness." Anchor Books is proud to be reissuing Minor Characters with a new introduction by the author that helps to place the Beat Generation in the context of the 1990s.
"Realistic rather than flamboyant, Johnson succeeds in portraying the Beats not as oddities or celebrities but as individuals. In wry retrospect, she recognizes the folly of young women rebelling against their well-meaning parents only to become subservient to indifferent men."--The New Yorker
"Johnson writes of Dostoevskian evenings, of Kerouac's disastrous confrontation with fame...of the major Beat voices and the minor characters, their women. It's a terrific book, rich and beautifully written, full of vivid portraits and evocations."--San Francisco Chronicle [via]