Best known for her memoir Minor Characters, which won a 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award, Joyce Johnson has just published The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac, in which she follows Kerouac’s development as a writer through 1951. Born in New York, the city that has been the setting for all of her eight books, she published Come and Join the Dance, now considered the first Beat novel by a woman, at the age of twenty-six.
Five years earlier, in January 1957, she met Jack Kerouac on a blind date arranged by Allen Ginsberg—the beginning of a love affair that lasted for nearly two years, which she later wrote about in Minor Characters. A writer who likes to try out different genres, she is also the author of the novels Bad Connections and In the Night Cafe, as well as Door Wide Open: A Beat Romance in Letters; a second memoir Missing Men, and What Lisa Knew: The Truths and Lies of the Steinberg Case, her first foray into investigative journalism. Her work has been published in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere.
Until she left book publishing in 1987 to teach creative writing and to concentrate on her own work, Johnson had a long career as an editor. She has taught in the MFA programs at Columbia and the New School. Since 1984, she has been teaching workshops in memoir and fiction at the 92nd Street YMHA.
The Voice Is All:The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac (2012)
Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters (2001)
Minor Characters (1987)