Move Under Ground

Cover image for


Author: Nick Mamatas
Published: 2004
Language: English
Wordcount: 60,305 / 163 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 77.6
LoC Category: PN
Downloads: 2,768
Added to site: 2007.03.02 16181
License: by-nc-nd

On the road with Kerouac, Cassaday, and Cthulhu -- Mamatas parodies the Beat writers of the 60's in this cross-country Lovecraftian romp.

Show Excerpt

the empty ghost of a road, occasionally swigging some water from my canteen. It was rough in my bloody boots; now my ankles were chafed as well. I balanced the rucksack on my head to keep the sun off of it, but that didn't help, and the straps had already dug into my shoulders, so I took to swinging it, tossing it twenty yards in front of me, and then leisurely strolling over just to pick the sack up. No wonder I wasn't getting any nibbles from the few folks who did drive by.

It got dark fast; there was hardly any dusk at all. And behind me, I heard the roar of a convoy, but they weren't old trucks coming my way. Instead, it was wagons, sedans, curvy Studebakers, and even a few old crank cars with rumble seats and shivering fabric roofs. Town cars driving five abreast in tight formation across only two lanes of highway, eating up the shoulders, headlights suddenly blazing a terrible, beautiful amber. I cut into the wood and watched them zoom past from a little ditch I happened to fall into. Above the


Average Rating of 3.1 from 7 reviews: ****

Kerouac vs Cthulhu. A beatnik pastiche with lots of lovecraft thrown in. Its really well done, of course the gap between the beatniks and lovecraft isn't as wide as you might think. Anyone who's read Kerouacs 'Dr.Sax' or Ginsbergs poem 'Howl' will see distinct touches of eldritch horror.
Surprisingly for a pastiche this isn't played for laughs, its a proper beat novel with all the humour, sleaze and darkness that one would expect. Because it stars Kerouac as opposed to Sal Paradyse there is a biographical element to it and i wonder how true to Kerouacs personality and opinions this portrayal is.
Some might find it a little vague in places especially towards the end but overall this is a great impression of the beats but with a little better focus and story than Kerouac usually managed.

C. Alan Loewen

As you can see by the rest of the reviews, you will either hate this book or you will love it. In spite of its flaws, this reviewer enjoyed it.

All of the famous Beat authors have a presence here: Jack Kerouac and Neal Casaday being the two main protagonists with William Burroughs jumping in later in the story.

I am hard pressed to call it a parody. I don't think anybody could read the seventh chapter and not say this novel is solidly placed in the arena of horror. I would rather call it a pastiche of Kerouac that takes place in the cosmos of H. P. Lovecraft.

This book just might be your five-star review or you may give up after the first two chapters.

Only one way to find out.

C. Alan Loewen


This book is a complete waste of time. Don't bother!


A five star book if anything ever was..
It made me re read Naked Lunch and On the Road .
The language is just right, the lack of plot is just perfect , who needs a plot anyway plots are for squares....


Despite the summary atop this page, Move Under Ground isn't a parody, so if you're looking for a sendup, you won't find it here. The conceit of the novel arguably lends itself to that misinterpretation, but set that aside, and read Move Under Ground for the book it is, rather than the book one might assume it to be from a casual glance at the summary. When you do, you'll find a nicely-constructed novel written in Kerouac's voice, invoking the Cthulhu mythos as both overt plot actor describing an encroachment of the Old Ones into the universe we know, and as metaphorical plot actor describing the collapse of both Beat culture in general and of Jack Kerouac personally. The story is one of deeply personal tragedy and sacrifice exactly as much as it is about cosmic horror; block out either story with preconceived notions, and you've read less than half the novel.

In short, there's quite a bit more going on than you might expect for a slim volume like this - so much so that it's one of the very small number of books I've purchased in paper form (pre-Creative Commons hardback release) more than once in order that I could give copies to friends. So give this one a go; it's interesting, and you won't have wasted your time.


I agree with Cheryl. This is a poor book. Despite it being written as a pastiche of Kerouac (On the road), it still reads badly. The author has managed to take a well written book and write it badly, adding a mishmash of Cthulu Mythos in an attempt to spice it up. There really is no plot structure. That's the one glaring fault above all others in this book, its structure. I couldn't finish it either. The books lets you down, and is just another example of Creative Commons putting out rubbish. I looked this book up to see what background I could get on it, and discovered, to my utter surprise, that it seems to have won awards. I notice this trend a lot lately, and have commented on it here before, awards being dished out to undeserving books. I have to say that most of the Creative Commons books are pretty bad stuff. This is yet another bad one.


Although the writing is interesting, I could not finish this book. There seems to be no - or very little - plot. It's basically a fantasy/horror version of "On the Road", written in that style. Maybe if you REALLY like the Beat writers, you'd like this book. To me, it's more of a novelty item with a cute idea that would've been better expressed in the short story or novella format.

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