jack kerouac died 40 years ago today, on october 21, 1969. it was somehow fitting that his ugly death from the ravages of alcoholism came in october - his favorite month. i've been a fan jack kerouac for more than 3o of those years that he's been dead, "safe in heaven." ever since i first read "on the road" and "the dharma bums" back in high school, i've been hooked on keroauc, allen ginsberg, cassady, corso, and the beat generation.
kerouac died just after he published "vanity of dulouz" the last book he'd write, and the last chapter of the "duluoz" legend. while kerouac's work continued to appear posthumously (ginsberg was the major force behind publication of "visions of cody" - the "on the road" book previously considered unpublishable, but that jack viewed as his masterpiece), decades would pass before acadamia would finally acknowledge kerouac and his work.
i read the original scroll of "on the road" this summer (and viewed it on exhibit at the new york public library the previous year). i found the unabridged narrative more powerful than the fictionalize version it ultimately became when published! while kerouac alway hoped to assemble all of his autobiographical fiction in chronological order - his proustian "dulouz" life story, it never came to pass. it's as if his parting book title was the acknowledgement of the "vanity" of the entire enterprise.
so take time to read some of jack's work today!
and, have a listen to kerouac reading from "october in the railroad earth"