Monday, June 11, 2018

Curation #62 from my Kerouac bookshelf: The Haunted Life and Other Writings by Jack Kerouac

Item #62 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover Da Capo Press 2014 1st printing of The Haunted Life and Other Writings by Jack Kerouac. It's in really good shape (because the provenance is that I bought it new when it first came out), 153 pages, and about 5-1/2" x 8-1/4".

As the inside jacket cover says, this is "A Jack Kerouac novella long believed lost, with period sketches, notes, reflections, and correspondence" Jack kept during the novella's composition in 1944 -- the same year he lost his close friend Sebastian Sampas in the war and also the year of the David Kammerer killing that was the subject of our last curation item. This edition has a helpful 20-page introduction by editor Todd Tietchen.

I won't bore you with details about the content. Suffice to say that it is semi-autobiographical like most of Jack's novels and deals with the Martin family (Kerouac) of Galloway (Lowell). It's a classic coming-of-age story like several of Kerouac's novels (remember the term Bildungsroman I had you look up the other day?).

The Martins and Galloway? Shades of The Town and the City. If you've read most of Kerouac's work, reading The Haunted Life feels like you've read it before. I most enjoyed the pieces after the novella, especially the letters; in particular, some from Kerouac's father, who closes with, "The old weasel--POP."

Nevertheless, as with And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks, this is an important piece in the canon as it shows Kerouac in his early stage of development as a writer.

Below is a picture of Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (12th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Trip Trap: Haiku On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Albert Saijo, and Lew Welch.

Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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