And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks is a novel by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, written a decade before either gained notoriety. Under the pseudonyms of Mike Ryko and William Dennison, respectively, they recount the days leading up to the murder of their friend, Ramsey "Al" Allen by another friend, Phillip Tourian.
Each author takes every other chapter, and the reader is given an hour-by-hour account of events as the story unfolds. Kerouac depicts Phillip's side, and Burroughs illustrates Al's. We learn that Allen is in love with Phillip, and has been essentially stalking him since they met, when Phillip was a child. After years and years of this, Phillip has had enough, and decides to leave the country with Mike Ryko on a military ship headed for France. Allen confides in William Dennison that he is desperate for Phillip to return his affections, and wants a "permanent" relationship. At one point, he breaks into Phillip's apartment building to watch him sleep, something that he's done before. When Phillip and Mike finally get on the ship, only to be kicked off hours later, tensions come to a head.
Hippos is not revolutionary or ground breaking. It is pulp fiction, a hard-boiled crime novel. But, it does foreshadow the styles that both writers would later adopt. Kerouac's descriptions of the sea are nostalgic, not unlike his passages on living in the mountains in The Dharma Bums. Burroughs' tells it like it is through a nearly unbroken chain of events, much like he'd later do in Junky, Queer and even the infamously inscrutable Naked Lunch.
Despite being written in 1945, the novel was not published until 2008, due to several legal disputes. By this time, it had become legendary among fans of the Beat Generation. The title does appear in the book, and is supposedly a quote from a news report on a circus fire. However, there is no evidence of such a thing ever happening.