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By Jack Kerouac
The Subterraneans is a 1958 novella by Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac. It is a semi-fictional account of his short romance with Alene Lee (1931–1991), an African-American woman, in Greenwich Village, New York.
Jack Kerouac, one of the great voices of the Beat generation and author of the classic On the Road, here continues his peregrinations in postwar, underground San Francisco. “The subterraneans” come alive at night, travel along dark alleyways, and live in a world filled with paint, poetry, music, smoke, and sex. Simmering in the centre of it all is the brief affair between Leo Percepied, a writer, and Mardou Fox, a black woman ten years younger. Just at the moment when she is coolly leaving him, Leo realises his passion for passion, his inability to function without it, and the puzzling futility of seeking redemption and fulfilment through writing.