Kerouac: A Biography
Now that Kerouac's major novel, On the Road is accepted as an American classic, academic critics are slowly beginning to catch up with his experimental literary methods and examine the dozen books comprising what he called 'the legend of Duluoz.' Nearly all of his books have been in print internationally since his death in 1969, and his writing has been discovered and enjoyed by new readers throughout the world. Kerouac's view of the promise of America, the seductive and lovely vision of the beckoning open spaces of our continent, has never been expressed better by subsequent writers, perhaps because Kerouac was our last writer to believe in America's promise--and essential innocence--as the legacy he would explore in his autobiographical fiction.
his own quart bottles of twenty-eight-cent wine. His favorite pastime was sitting cross-legged on his patio and reading the Diamond Sutra facing the Catholic priests at a nearby church who recited their rosaries facing the sea. As he wrote later it was the time of his life when he lost his “yen for any further outside searching. … At the time I sincerely believed that the only decent activity in the world was to pray for everyone, in solitude.” He had waited too many long bitter years for
old lady whose grave he dug up to plant marijuana. But he also dreamed of being a child again, lying with mémêre arm in arm, Jack crying afraid to die, his mother blissful, with one leg “in pink sexually out between me.” Mémêre never let her son forget that she’d supported him by rising at six A.M. to work in the shoe factory for years while he wrote his books. All Jack’s income as a writer went into their joint bank account and her signature also had to appear on his checks. Buying the
on another, until he reached Paris, where he immediately caught a cab for the airport, determined to be on the first plane out. Back in Florida regrouping his memories of the trip (he drank cognac while writing Satori in Paris to bring back the flavor of his French experiences), he thought the cab driver who raced him to Orly Airport had given him a satori, a sudden illumination, as Jack defined it in the book. Describing the cabbie, Jack didn’t specify what the illumination was, and then he went
cold bluelipped face, blue eyes saying nothing behind steel rims and glass, sandy hair, a little wispy, a little of the wistful German Nazi youth as his soft hair fluffles in the breeze—So unobtrusive as he sat on the hassock” in the middle of Edie’s livingroom. Once he had met Burroughs, Jack would take the subway down to the Village with Lucien to drink in Burroughs’ apartment on Bedford Street. Mostly he sat back and watched Burroughs, Carr and Kammerer as they talked. The more Kerouac
attention. This was the period when Time Magazine was needling the beatniks. Tindall referred to Kerouac as a Columbia alumnus, and then went on to put him down as a writer, saying at Columbia he hadn’t even been successful enough at football to make the team, and he wasn’t doing any better as he got older. Instead of nodding with the class and making a note of Tindall’s judgment for a future exam question, I found I didn’t agree. Perhaps it was my prejudice as a Californian, but I had liked