Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Curation #92 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 edited by Douglas Brinkley

Curation #92 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 2004 Viking first printing of Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 edited by Douglas Brinkley. 387 pages, it measures about 6" x 9" and is in fair condition (except for all the annotations I have made I would rate it as good condition, although Abe Books doesn't account for such in its guide). The provenance is uncertain, but I suspect that I acquired it via Amazon.

Brinkley is an award-winning author and, at one time, was slated to write the "official" Kerouac biography. For one reason or another or several, that didn't happen or hasn't happened yet (he missed a deadline, there was legal action, Katrina was a more important story to write, etc.). Search the Jack Kerouac Facebook group if you want to read some opinions on why.

In any case, Brinkley did finish editing this set of Jack's journals written between 1947-1954, a juicy period for Kerouac. Brinkley provides an introduction, a cast of characters, and then two sections of Jack's verbatim journals, one relevant to his work on The Town and the City and the other relevant to On The Road. The book includes several pictures of Jack's actual journal pages along with Brinkley's annotations giving context and explanations via introductory comments and footnotes. I am not privy to the 10 notebooks Brinkley transcribed, so it is impossible for me to weigh in on his editorial choices (which he said were minimal). There is a helpful index.

This is great stuff, full of Jack's heart and style. I had to underline hundreds of phrases such as "that's the greatest writing, the unconscious," and "it's worry that must be eliminated for the sake of individual force," and "sometimes my effort at writing becomes so fluid and smooth that too much is torn out of me at once, and it hurts," and "in the end, I am my own greatest reader," and "this continual jockeying for position is the enemy of life in itself," and "all mad people are only being coy." And there are many others. I especially liked this one:
From now on --
            --less notes on the subject of writing--
--and of myself --
            --and more writing.
Most of  you already know that while Jack was churning out 1,000s of words a day in his novels (and poetry), he was also churning out letters to friends and journal entries such as the ones in Windblown World. For a sampling of Jack's journals, click here.

Kerouac was a writer, so he wrote -- constantly. He was driven to write and to become known as a great writer. This book is evidence of the same. As Brinkley states on p. xiv:
Read as a whole, Windblown World offers riveting proof of Kerouac's deep desire to become a great and enduring American novelist.


P.S. There are many more journals to publish and hopefully that will happen -- soon, please.

Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (12th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac by Ellis Amburn.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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