Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Curation #68 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Baby Driver by Jan Kerouac

Item #68 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover (no dustjacket) 1981 St. Martin's Press first edition first printing of Jan Kerouac's Baby Driver. Yes, you read that right. Jan. Not Jack. More on that later. This copy is in good condition and the worst aspect of it is that it has no dust cover. It's 208 pages and about 8-3/4" x 9-3/8". The provenance, I think, is that I got it used from Amazon. On the inside cover is an Ex Libris decal indicating it belonged to a Bert Fischer at one time. Bert, if you respond to this post, I'll send you a free signed copy of my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions.

A memoir, Baby Driver (the title comes from a Paul Simon song) is the first book by Jan Kerouac, Jack Kerouac's only -- to our knowledge -- child. Her mother was Joan Haverty Kerouac, Jack's second wife. Here's a picture of Jan in case you've never seen one.

I won't bother getting into the whole Kerouac estate controversy in which Jan was embroiled, or the fact that Jack disavowed her -- seeing her twice in his life and talking to her another time on the phone. We've covered those topics in past posts.

What I want to say is that Jan Kerouac certainly inherited her father's writing genes, as she was a powerful wordsmith -- but in her own right and not a clone. There's a good recap of Baby Driver in this review by Krysten Bean on Empty Mirror: click here.

Baby Driver may not be everybody's cup of tea -- it's pretty gritty at times. Jan didn't shy away from adventure, travel, or drugs & alcohol (partly why she died at 44) -- and she doesn't shy away from those topics in her book. She can be witty (darkly so) and she not only inherited Jack's writing genes but also his memory: the details in this memoir are astounding.

Click here for some thoughts I had on Baby Driver in 2012.

Below is a picture of Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (18th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Trainsong by Jan Kerouac.

Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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