A Jack Kerouac ROMnibus
Somebody at Penguin Electronic Publishing is paying attention because A Jack Kerouac ROMnibus is pretty darn good. Sure, you might wonder why they chose The Dharma Bums as the centerpiece rather than Kerouac’s most famous book, On the Road; after all, they publish just about all his work. You may even wonder, considering how slender many of his books are, why they didn’t include more than one. But, putting those questions aside, what you get here is a well-conceived, well-designed package that will introduce Kerouac and his work to new readers and will remind his fans of just how rich that work was. Besides the full text of Dharma Bums (complete with annotation, hypertext, good background music, and nicely done graphics), there’s an Archival section with correspondence, notebook entries, memorabilia, and ephemera. The Gallery section features photographs by Allen Ginsberg, Ann Charters, Carolyn Cassady, and Harry Redl, and original art by Kerouac (did you know he painted?). Extras include the introduction to The Portable Beat Reader by Ann Charters and a list of related source materials. Accessing all this material is very easy thanks to the Sectional indexes – click on the Mandala. If you need Help, click on the Buddha (too cute for us, but a minor flaw). A Jack Kerouac ROMnibus is a very credible piece of work.
– February 1996