Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Warning: Kerouac myth #1 spoiled

The #1 myth about Jack Kerouac it seems to me is that he wrote his most famous novel, On The Road, in a caffeine-fueled nonstop 3-week typing frenzy in April 1951.

On the contrary, Kerouac had been preparing notes, text, key phrases, etc., for years - ever since his late-40's cross-country travels with Neal Cassady. Here is an actual April 1949 entry from one of his journals, courtesy of Douglas Brinkley's Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 (2004).

WED. 27--Started "On the Road" with a brief 500-wd. stint of 2, 3 hours duration, in the small hours of the morning. I find that I am "hotter" than ever--tho on closer examination afterwards I figure I may only be over pleased with words, and not structurally sound yet (after a long layoff). My interest in work is at a high pitch. My aim is to have much of "Road" done, if not all, by the time T & C is published next winter. I quit school today so I can do nothing but write.--Now I want to expand the original 500 words which, in the heat of work, 'discovered' an important opening unity.


Brinkley includes photocopies of certain pages from Jack's journals, the above entry being one of them.

Jack, I love you, man, but this is one myth that needed to be busted.

The truth is out there.*


*Gratuitous pop culture reference.

4 comments:

cody taylor said...

Thanks for reading my post. I've read some of your blog and have enjoyed what I have read. Please keep up with my blog if you have time because right now I feel like the wild haired prophet crying out in the wilderness. Have a good day and keep up the good work.

cody taylor said...

Thanks for reading my "Fuck Kerouac" post. I'm glad someone took the time to read something I wrote. Sometimes I feel like the wild haired prophet crying in the wilderness. I've enjoyed what little I've read of your blog and just so you know I really do love Jack. Have a good day and keep up the good work and if you find time check back with me, I really do appreciate you reading the post and if you read anything else-thank you.

cody taylor said...

Sorry about the double comment. Didn't mean to do it. I didn't think the first one went through. Sorry again to be a bother.

Anonymous said...

It was benzedrine, an amphetamine, that he originally typed the manuscript on. Not caffeine, benzedrine was commonly referred to as "bennies" and was taken out of inhalers, before they were taken of the market. In on the Road Sal talks about benny addicts in relation to old bull lee, or at least thats the part that i remember.