In alternating chapters that reveal a nascent period in their development as two of the twentieth century’s most influential writers, Beat Generation icons William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac’s And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks is an electrifying true-life mystery, including afterword by James Grauerholtz in Penguin Modern Classics.
This is a hardboiled crime novel, and a true story. In 1944, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, then still unknown writers, were both arrested following a murder: one of their friends had stabbed another and then come to them for advice – neither had told the police. Later they wrote this fictionalised account of that summer – of a group of friends in wartime New York, moving through each other’s apartments, drinking, necking, talking and taking drugs and haphazardly drifting towards a bloody crime. Unpublished for years, And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks is a remarkable insight into the lives and literary development of two great writers.
If you enjoyed And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks, you might like Kerouac’s On the Road, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
‘The novel that kicked it all off’
‘An insight into Kerouac before he went on the road and Burroughs before his drug use spiralled out of control, this is a major literary event’