What the book does best is provide insights into what a wide variety of people saw in him. John Clellon Holmes, author of Go, calls Kerouac somewhat paradoxically "a terribly simple and conventional genius." Musician David Amram remembers Kerouac telling him "a writer should be like a shadow, just be part of the sidewalk like a shadow. "Gore Vidal, obviously less taken with Kerouac, talks about his bisexuality and claims he "was not above using it, and his physical charms to get his way." Ginsberg saw him as more Puritanical about his sexuality. William Burroughs and Gregory Corso describe the way he wrote, intense periods of composition with the words seemingly pouring out of him in a Thomas Wolfe kind of rhapsody.
Some people object to the way they were portrayed in his writing, taking the opportunity to tell their side of the story. It is understandable considering that it has been very easy for readers to identify most of the real life models for Kerouac's characters and they are not always pleasing portraits. His publishers were often concerned about the possibility of legal action as a result of some of the unflattering material. Interestingly, Gifford and Lee provide an appendix identifying the fictional counterparts of many of those who appear in the book for.
Jack's Book is an impressive picture of Kerouac and his relations with those around him. He was many things to many people, but there were few who failed to be captivated by his dynamism and passion. While it is probably true that the more familiar a reader is with Kerouac's work, the more meaningful this book will be, there will as likely be a good many that will be led to read those books they have yet to read as a result of meeting the man who wrote them. The Kerouac of Jack's Book is much the dark romantic genius (simple and conventional as that might seem to some) burning as many ends of life's candle as he could manage.