Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K = KEROUAC, Jack - Author, A-Z Blog Challenge 2016

When Route 66 was the Road to the other side of the country. . .Jack Kerouac wrote about it.

Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palumbo, 1956

K = Kerouac, Jack, Author
Theme = Authors, AtoZ

Jack Kerouac, born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac, to French Canadian parents on March 12, 1922 - October 21, 1969 in Lowell, Massachusetts was an American novelist and poet. Kerouac was a pioneer of the Beat Generation like William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.

In 1926, when Jack's older brother Gerard, aged nine, died of rheumatic fever, the four year old Jack was deeply affected. He claimed his brother followed him in life as his guardian angel. Jack had a Catholic background impressed on him by his mother. This guardian angel is the 'Gerard' of Kerouac's novel, Visions of Gerard

When his football career ended at Columbia, Kerouac dropped out of university.  During this time he met his first wife Edi Parker and met the Beat Generation people, now famous, which whom he would always be associated: Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, John Clellon Holmes, Herbert Huncke and William S. Burrroughs.

Kerouac wrote his first novel, The Sea is My Brother, while serving in the US Merchant Marine. Written in 1942, it was not published until 2011, 42 years after Kerouac's death and 70 years after it was written.

Jack Kerouac, 1950, *photo credit

Kerouac completed On the Road in April 1951, a book that was autobiographical and describes these adventures across the US and Mexico with Neal Cassady in the late 40s. 
Though the work was completed quickly, Kerouac had a difficult time finding a publisher before it was accepted by Viking Press. During that time Kerouac worked as a "railroad brakeman and fire lookout". 

The truth was, publishers rejected On the Road because it flouted the social mores of the time in post-War America. The book discusses some taboo subjects, the kind that could result in obscenity charges being filed. A similar fate had befallen Burroughs (Naked Lunch) and Ginsberg (Howl). For the next few years, Kerouac continued writing, and travelling through the US and Mexico. He had drafts finished that would become more novels, including The Subterraneans, Doctor Sax, Desolation Angels and Tristessa.

On October 20, 1969 at 11 am, Kerouac was sitting in his favorite chair, drinking and scribbling notes for a book. He became ill and began vomiting large amounts of blood. After being rushed to the hospital, he underwent surgery that evening, but his damaged liver prevented his blood from clotting. Kerouac died at 5:15 am on October 21, 1969. His death was due to an internal hemorrhage - bleeding esophageal varices, caused by cirrhosis. A lifetime of heavy drinking had taken its toll.

Since his death, Kerouac's literary prestige has grown. All Kerouac's books are in print today, including The Town and the CityOn the RoadDoctor SaxThe Dharma BumsMexico City BluesThe SubterraneansDesolation AngelsVisions of CodyThe Sea Is My Brother, and Big Sur.


A to Z Challenge - 2016

It's April again and time for the 2016 Blogging from A to Z challenge  This is my 4th year participating in the challenge! (Previous A to Z  posts at the top of my blog page tabs are: Art A-Z, French Faves, Paris, Etc. 

Thanks to originator Lee (Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out), and the co-hosts and co-host teams who make the challenge run smoothly. See the list of participants, and other important information at the A to Z Blog site.  The basic idea is to blog every day in April except Sundays (26 days). On April 1st, you begin with the letter A, April 2 is the letter B, and so on. Posts can be random or use a theme.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2016 - Badge


Partial list of Books by Kerouac:

Wiki on Jack Kerouac

More about Jack Kerouac

The Paris Review

Image of Jack Kerouac by Tom Palumbo.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

*Image of Kerouac from The Guardian, 1950,



  1. Great post. I'd never heard of this person. I like the way he considered his brother to be his guardian angel. I like to think we all have a guardian angel :)Sounds like he had a tough life. What a shame he didn't get to see his work published.

    1. Kerouac's writing was very popular with the college crowds, especially in the sixties. The Beat writers were the poets of Greenwich Village and of San Francisco.

  2. I liked On the Road and Dharma Bums, but overall I thought the beat movement was so pretentious. But without them, there would have been no Grateful Dead, no hippies and no San Francisco scene. I liked Neal Cassady best of all his friends. He drifted from Jack in the early 60s and started hanging around with Ken Kesey.

    1. You know the history, too, JoJo, and there was Neal's wife who might have helped cause some of that rift between Jack and Neal.

  3. What a terrible way to die.
    Interesting that On the Road was controversial. I've not read Naked Lunch (just seen the movie) and if it's in the same vein, it's more odd than controversial. At least now.

    1. I've read the book and saw the movie, Naked Lunch and remember it was definitely odd. Much of Burroughs work didn't appeal to me. Kerouac's work was better IMO.

  4. He lived hard and died hard. I don't know if that is what we all should strive for or not. I guess it's different strokes, different folks.

  5. So, sad! He was so talented~ I have enjoyed his books and see some of the films inspired by his work~

  6. I love the rebels. Kerouac was another rebellious voice of that time.

    Thanks for finding my blog and commenting today. I'm glad to find yours.

  7. Very intersting. Maybe because On the Road became so famous after the 1960s film, I didn't expect it was actually written and published so early.
    I've never read it, but now I'm very curious :-)

    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

  8. Hi DG - I know of Kerouac - but this post gives us a good overview and a reminder of the censorship of his times. Route 66 is immortal ... but I must read 'On The Road' sometime .. always that word sometime ... still another great author post .. cheers Hilary


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