The following is from an interview with Carl Solomon, conducted by John Tytell in 1973. John Tytell’s collected interviews (with Ginsberg, Burroughs, Corso, Solomon, and Holmes) and essays on the Beat Generation will be published by Beatdom Books in 2014. Tytell is also the author of Naked Angels (one of the first books that took the Beats seriously as a literary movement) and Paradise Outlaws.
John Tytell: I understand that you were also at one time considering publishing Kerouac.
Carl Solomon: We had paid him an advance of $500, and I had visions of myself as being his Maxwell Perkins and him being my Wolfe because his first novel resembled Wolfe.
JT: I read a letter you wrote to Kerouac at Columbia University Special Collections in which you said that the Wolfean aspect of The Town and the City was a charade that bespoke a repressed surrealism and a repressed homosexuality.
CS: I must have been very erudite in those days.
JT: What happened with the contract because Kerouac never published with Ace Books?
CS: Well, we rejected On the Road – he sent us this long scroll. My uncle said it looked like he took it from his trunk.
JT: The teletype roll. Did he get that from Lucien Carr at United Press?
CS: I don’t know where he got it, but we were used to these neat manuscripts, and I thought, “Gee, I can’t read this.”
JT: You didn’t accept it as a surrealistic antic, then?
CS: Because at that time I probably wasn’t into that.
JT: What was Kerouac’s attitude to publishers in general?
CS: Bad! He thought of them as skinflints, and he used the term “Broadway Sams” – he meant Jewish liberal intellectuals. He was snide about anybody who worked in offices.
JT: Was there any problem with getting Kerouac to make revisions?
CS: Yes. He got very angry when I wrote him suggestions.
JT: Did Kerouac send you anything after On the Road?
CS: Then I flipped and was sent to Pilgrim State. But the house continued to deal with him, and they accepted things, and then later reversed themselves.
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