Saturday, August 29, 2009

Defending Kerouac

Fellow Kerouacians, we have a task before us. It is two-fold:

1. Read this too-little-too-late-already-been-said yawn by M.J. Andersen of The Providence Journal: A reluctant road trip with Kerouac.

2. Write a letter/e-mail to her (or perhaps her boss) and defend our hero, Jack.

You might ask Ms. (did I get that right?) Andersen where she has been for the last 50 years that she needs to trot out the age-old critique about the "horrendous" treatment of women in On The Road (this has been dealt with to the point of nausea). Or why she perpetuates the myth that Kerouac wrote On The Road in three weeks (he worked on it for years). Or why she found it necessary to bring up how many times Cassady and Kerouac had been married (as if that qualifies or disqualifies an author's work). Or why 100,000 copies of On The Road still sell each year (I wonder if even one copy of her memoir, Portable Prairie: Confessions of an Unsettled Midwesterner, will have survived at all in 50 years - as I write this the sales rank of my non-selling Kerouac-related book on Amazon is better than hers).

Or come up with your own ideas. The point is, while Jack needs no defense, the beats defended each other when ravaged in the press by writing letters to editors, etc. So it's a beat thing to do.

Let me know if you write to Ms. Andersen (or her boss).

And, M.J.: If you're that concerned about the treatment of women, why don't you write a Pulitzer Prize winning multi-part investigative piece about how prostitution indoors is still legal in Rhode Island? THAT might do some good for women. Writing scathing essays about Jack Kerouac "the misogynist" is best left to unimaginative, uninformed college students trying to win favor with their feminist professors.

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