Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jack Kerouac opening lines

For your scholarly convenience, below are the opening lines from a number of Jack Kerouac's novels all in one place.

On The Road
"I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up."

The Dharma Bums
"Hopping a freight out of Los Angeles at high noon one day in late September 1955 I got on a gondola and lay down with my duffel bag under my head and my knees crossed and contemplated the clouds as we rolled north to Santa Barbara."

 Big Sur
"The church is blowing a sad windblown "Kathleen" on the bells in the skid row slums as I wake up all woebegone and goopy, groaning from another drinking bout and groaning most of all because I'd ruined my 'secret return' to San Francisco by getting silly drunk while hiding in the alleys with bums and then marching forth into North Beach to see everybody altho Lorenz Monsanto and I'd exchanged huge letters outlining how I would sneak in quietly, call him on the phone using a code name like Adam Yulch or Lalagy Pulvertaft (also writers) and then he would secretly drive me to his cabin in the Big Sur woods where I would be alone and undisturbed for six weeks just chopping wood, drawing water, writing, sleeping, hiking, etc. etc."

Dr. Sax
"The other night I had a dream that I was sitting on the sidewalk on Moody Street, Pawtucketville, Lowell, Mass., with a pencil and paper in my hand saying to myself 'Describe the wrinkly the tar of this sidewalk, also the iron pickets of Textile Institute, or the doorway where Lousy and you and G.J.'s always sittin and dont stop to think of words when you do stop, just stop to think of the picture better--and let your mind off yourself in this work.'"

The Subterraneans
"Once I was young and had so much more orientation and could talk with nervous intelligence about everything and with clarity and without as much literary preambling as this; in other words this is the story of an unself-confident man, at the same time of an egomaniac, naturally, facetious won't do--just to start at the beginning and let the truth seep out, that's what I'll do--."

Desolation Angels
"Those afternoons, those lazy afternoons, when I used to sit, or lie down, on Desolation Peak, sometimes on the alpine grass, hundreds of miles of snowcovered rock all around,. looming Mount Hozomeen on my north, vast snowy Jack to the south, the encharmed picture of the lake below to the west and the snowy hump of Mt. Baker beyond, and to the east the rilled and ridged monstrosities humping to the Cascade Ridge, and after that first time suddenly realizing "It's me that's changed and done all this and come and gone and complained and hurt and joyed and yelled, not the Void' and so that every time I thought of the void I'd be looking at Mt. Hozomeen (because chair and bed and meadowgrass faced north) until I realized 'Hozomeen is the Void--at least Hozomeen means the void to my eyes'--"

Lonesome Traveler
     before we all go to Heaven
All that hitchhikin
All that railroadin
All that comin back
        to America
Via Mexican & Canadian borders...

Less begin with the sight of me with collar huddled up close to neck and tied around with a handkerchief to keep it tight and snug, as I go trudging across the bleak, dark warehouse lots of the ever lovin San Pedro waterfront, the oil refineries smelling in the damp foggish night of Christmas 1951 just like burning rubber and the brought-up mysteries of Sea Hag Pacific, where just off to my left as I trudge you can see the oily skeel of old bay waters marching up to hug the scummy post and out on over the flatiron waters are the lights ululating in the moving tide and also the lights of ships and bum boats themselves moving and closing in and leaving this last lip of American land."

Maggie Cassidy
"It was a New Year's Eve, it was snowing in the North."

Vanity of Duluoz
"All right, wifey, maybe I'm a big pain in the you-know-what but after I've given you a recitation of the troubles I had to go through to make good in America between 1935 and more or less now, 1967, and although I also know everybody in the world's had his own troubles, you'll understand that my particular form of anguish came from being too sensitive to all the lunkheads I had to deal with just so I could get to be a high school football star, a college student pouring coffee and washing dishes and scrimmaging till dark and reading Homer's Iliad in three days all at the same time, and God help me, a WRITER whose very 'success', far from being a happy triumph as of old, was the sign of doom Himself."

Visions of Gerard
"Gerard Duluoz was born in 1917 a sickly little kid with a rheumatic heart and many other complications that made him ill for the most part of his life which ended in July 1926, when he was 9, and the nuns of St. Louis de France Parochial School were at his bedside to take down  his dying words because they'd heard his astonishing revelations of heaven delivered in catechism class on no more encouragement than that it was his turn to speak--"

Visions of Cody
"This is an old diner like the one Cody and his father ate in, long ago, with that oldfashioned railroad car ceiling and sliding doors--the board where bread is cut is worn down fine as if with bread dust and a plane; the icebox ('Say I got some nice homefries tonight Cody!') is a huge brownwood thing with oldfashioned pull-out handles, windows, tile walls, full of lovely pans of eggs, butter pats, piles of bacon--old lunchcarts always have a dish of sliced raw onions ready to go on hamburgs."

Orpheus Emerged
"Paul stood in the Book Shop facing a shelf of books"

Satori in Paris
"Somewhere during my ten days in Paris (and Brittany) I received an illumination of some kind that seems to've changed me again, towards what I suppose'll be my pattern for another seven years or more: in effect, a satori: the Japanese word for 'sudden illumination,' 'sudden awakening' or simply 'kick in the eye.'--"

The Sea is My Brother
"A young man, cigarette in mouth and hands in trousers' pockets, descended a short flight of brick steps leading to the foyer of an uptown Broadway hotel and turned in the direction of Riverside Drive, sauntering in a curious, slow shuffle."

"Ain't nobody never loved me like I love myself, cept my mother and she's dead."


john j dorfner said...

where's SAX???

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Couldn't find my copy last night, but hold on . . . .