“He doesn’t write, he types,” said the wicked Truman Capote about Jack Kerouac. Another first-class scholar, inventor of Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess critiques his novels by emphasizing that “wandering is not necessarily an art form … his style is fundamentally malleable”. Yet a century after its birth, Kerouac’s key-clicking and hitch-hiking trips have become a literary classic. Perhaps not just for literary merits, but for embodying the superiority of being the progenitor of the Beat generation and the much more exemplary wanderer in the decades to come.
Thus the myth of Kerouac has survived to the present day and has now surpassed the author’s figure, compared to film stars of his time such as James Dean and Marlon Brando. Even an aesthetist like Salvador Dali considered Kerouac to be more beautiful than Brando. In short, we are faced with a case in which the author has become more famous than his entire work. His old manuscripts and many relics are auctioned off to important figures. Each new discovery opens up debate. on the hippie movement, not to mention its influences on the entire definite cinema On th eway And to Bob Dylan, the outstanding songwriter on legendary bands like The Beatles and the Doors. And it doesn’t matter that few have read his masterpiece in its entirety On th eway Or other novels written by Kerouac. Myth is there and it will hardly be scratched.
Despite the literary mythology, his life and thoughts are not much different from the average conservative American. A middle-class white, Kerouac was born on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, a small town in Massachusetts, in the industrial northeast of the United States, although it was in decline. Boston, one of the cultural centers of the country, is not far away. Unlike most of his fellow citizens, the future writer has a Catholic background and will always be proud of the family’s French Canadian origins. The family to which he is very attached, especially to his mother Gabrielle, So much so that when he started traveling in America in 1947, he wrote him dozens of love letters. In a mail to Denver he tells her about the nice weather, the super steak she ate, how it’s nearly impossible to hitchhiker in the desert and mountains, and finally, sending her $25 via Western Union money order to return. calls for. At home. From him. Speaking of this morbid relationship, one of his mentors, the writer William Burroughs, would say of Kerouac that he was “a poor alcoholic to his mother”. Certainly reaching stardom, Jack accumulates a lot of demons in his mind and alcoholism will become a major problem that will kill him at age 47.
Despite the shamanic figure that many generations have seen in him, Kerouac will always be annoyed, unlike his colleagues Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, who, as little would speculate, will be seen as a symbol of the political struggles of the ’60s and ’70s. Without going too far, the author had little interest in politics but certainly identified himself more in the right wing during the course of his life. He doesn’t like ’68 and revolutions so much that he says “I was on TV cheering for Senator McCarthy, the anti-communist, not the Marxists of Colombia”. Despite problems with alcoholism and a slow distance from peers of the Beat generation, Kerouac tries to devote himself solely to writing. He always wrote, tucking his notebook into his jeans, in the midst of a race through the long streets from east to west, attempting to detox in his beloved Big Sur, and a trip to Paris.
A century later, in addition to the rock star figure, there is certainly a new type of language drawn directly from the bars, diners and clubs where Kerouac and collaborators spend late night listening to great jazz musicians and bebop. Jack drew inspiration from those symphonies when writing his stories, when he typed furiously under the influence of Benzedrine. Perhaps at a certain moment he was not so much interested in the construction of the text, but in capturing the first thought that entered his mind at that moment. By adopting the slogan of his friend Ginsberg, who said that the first idea is the best idea, or that the first thought that comes to mind is the right one. Ultimately, Kerouac faithfully follows in each of his novels what he believed was well worth living: “a fast car, distant horizon, and a woman in love at the end of the road”. And then the celebration of friendship, especially with Neil Cassidy, inspired On th eway, Without ending the quest for a certain America, as explained by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and founder of the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, who died in 2019 at the age of 102. A close friend of Kerouac, he remembers him in his biography “in a plaid shirt and baseball cap with the body of a woodcutter swollen with wine, looking for everything and more in an America that had already disappeared.” When he started looking for it”.
Devoted problem solver. Tv advocate. Avid zombie aficionado. Proud twitter nerd. Subtly charming alcohol geek.