Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Kerouac anniversary of sorts

Note the author's name in the original edition

If you've never read The Town and the City, Kerouac's first published novel, it is required reading for Kerouacians. According to the Cosmic Baseball Association's Jack Kerouac Chronology, a resource I recommend and which you can visit here, on this date in 1949 The Town and the City was accepted for publication by Harcourt Brace. Jack was to receive a $1,000 advance in monthly installments. I have not triangulated this date and event, so if someone has conflicting information, let me know.

Kerouac refers to money from this book in On the Road at the very beginning of Part 4 when he says:
I came into some money from selling my book. I straightened out my aunt with rent for the rest of the year.

As my great friend Richard Marsh would say, the beginning of the The Town and the City is a beautiful start to a book:
The town is Galloway. The Merrimac River, broad and placid, flows down to it from the New Hamsphire Hills, broken at the falls to make frothy havoc on the rocks, foaming on over ancient stone toward a place where the river suddenly swings about in a wide and peaceful basin, moving on now around the flank of the town, on to places known as Lawrence and Haverhill, through a wooded valley, and on to the sea at Plum Island, where the river enters an infinity of waters and is gone. Somewhere far north of Galloway, in headwaters close to Canada, the river is continually fed and made to brim out of endless sources and unfathomable springs. 

Thanks, Harcourt Brace. Thanks, Jack.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, despite its many flaws, such as many repetitive phrases, and arguably more than a bit too much mawkishness, at least for best selling or critical appreciation, T&C contains an abundance of beautiful rolling prose such as the opening paragraph. Prose that rolls as mightily as the novel's ever present Merrimack River.

For me however, the over-sentimentality just adds to the picture Kerouac paints of early to mid century New England, and in fact helps color my own similar Massachusetts boyhood on my own placid Connecticut River, to the point of mixing memory and fiction.

Richard Marsh