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Malcolm & Jack, by Ted Pelton

rEprint Series Ebooks

Malcolm & Jack, by Ted Pelton

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Malcolm and  Jack cover under  2m pixels.jpg

Malcolm & Jack, by Ted Pelton

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In 1944, well before either is famous, Malcolm Little and Jack Kerouac are both living in upper Manhattan, dodging the war, smoking grass, and digging jazz. They don’t know each other, except maybe by sight, maybe becoming aware of each other at a Billie Holiday show, maybe not. One thing they do know: they’re criminals. In this ambitious novel of multiple voices—male and female, black and white, gay and straight—Ted Pelton writes from the other side of history, about a generation that probably wasn't the greatest, and about the other stories that might be told.


“In his novel Malcolm & Jack, the New York jazz scene of the 1940s comes to life as an electrifying world . . . Malcolm X, Jack Kerouac, Billie Holiday and Allen Ginsberg converge with fictional creations, blurring the boundary between history and fiction. . . . In ways not approached by journalistic accounts, Malcolm & Jack surrounds us with a period and a way of life, bringing America’s past of exuberance and violence to a new consciousness. This is remarkable work.” —R. M. Berry, author of Leonardo’s Horse and Dictionary of Modern Anguish

“The concept is a killer: a young unknown writer named Jack Kerouac meets a young pimp named Malcolm ‘Detroit Red’ Little, soon to be known as Malcolm X, at a Billie Holiday concert. This meeting might have actually taken place, though the story is entirely imagined. The treatment reminds me of Don DeLillo, which is to say it’s not a straight-ahead narrative, and the medium is at least half of the message. . . . This is an absorbing treatment of a great premise.” —

Malcolm & Jack is a moving, hip, and complex journey into not only American cultural, social, and political history, but also into the meaning of history itself. One senses the latter most profoundly when knowing that Malcolm X never met Jack Kerouac, but finding it difficult to resist Pelton’s compelling scene with Kerouac buying a drink for Malcolm X in a Detroit blues bar.” —American Book Review

“Fast, hypnotic, and heartfelt, Malcolm & Jack somehow manages to be, frenzied and reflective, factual and speculative, all at once. A wild dash through an alternate American history.” —George Saunders, author of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and In Persuasion Nation


Ted Pelton is the author of three books in addition to Malcolm & Jack: the novellas Bartlebythe Sportscaster and Bhang, and the short story collection Endorsed by Jack Chapeau 2, released in an expanded second edition in 2006. He is also the founder and publisher of Starcherone Books, a non-profit publisher of fiction that celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2010.