May 11th, 2007

  • pgdf

Sixties Novels, Part 13

IK JAN CREMER, Jan Cremer, Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij (Literaire reuzenpockets: nr.64), 1964

A Dutch Jack Kerouac? I am so there!

The Sixties were, lest we forget, a global phenomenon, and here we have a representative from the Netherlands, Jan Cremer, artist and writer. Why I have never really known anything about him till this minute, I cannot say. At least I was smart enough to pick up a 1965 US paperback reprint of his autobiographical novel, with the English title I JAN CREMER (no comma, as some sources mistakenly have it) featuring a bland type-only cover, which I forsake in favor of the illo above. Some other groovy editions are visible here:

In any case, my cultural blindness is widespread, apparently, as there is no entry in the English Wikipedia for JC, only in the Dutch one, which is where I found the comparison to Kerouac.

But having discovered Cremer, I am instantly enticed. This is a guy who's still functioning creatively at age 67, always an inspiration. Just visit his site to see:

Moreover, he once dated Jayne Mansfield! How great is that?

He's inspired a current-day band to name themselves after his book!

As for the book itself, it promises to be a trip. Maybe we'll let the anonymous reviewer for NEWSWEEK fill us in:

"Cremer's rum-swilling, pot-smoking, bone-shattering, chick-dropping [["chick-dropping"??? Don't you "pick up" chicks, not drop them?]] saga of beatsmanship wanderings (Paris, Iviza [[sic]], Barcelona, Istanbul, Leningrad, Marrakesh) will be gobbled up to the Rolling Stones beat....Dealing as it does with the four basic frenzied freedoms of the beat world--sex, drugs, drink and viciousness...only bluenoses will be put off."

If I had no other obligations, I would start reading this today.

The US edition comes with a fascinating, wild-eyed laudatory introduction by Seymour Krim, himself a seminal Sixties figure:

Finally, I can't resist featuring a recent cover from one of JC's books, just to illustrate current US bluenose tendencies. Can you ever imagine seeing such an image displayed pubic-hair-out at your local Borders?