Sunday, September 19, 2021

Remembering Jack Kerouac's sister, Nin

 

Caroline with her brother, Jack

Caroline "Nin" Kerouac Blake died on this date -- September 19 -- in 1964. She was Jack Kerouac's older sister. She appeared in several of Jack's works: Nin Duluoz in Doctor Sax and Visions of Gerard; Nin in Book of DreamsMaggie CassidyVisions of Cody, and Vanity of Duluoz; Ruth Martin in The Town and the City; and, Carolyn Blake in Book of Sketches. The excellent Character Key to Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend lists her twice for Maggie Cassidy (as Nin and Jeannette Bissonette). I asked Kerouac scholar and keeper of the key, Dave Moore, about that little wrinkle and he said (shared with permission):
Yes, it's weird. Both names are used in MC. In the first part, Jack wrote about his sister Nin, but later, when he's writing about the surprise birthday party, Nin is described as arranging it, but the hosts are described as Jeannette and Jimmy Bisssonette. (Nin married Charles Morisette in 1937.)
When I think of Nin, I always think of Jack's descriptions in The Dharma Bums (my favorite Kerouac novel) of staying with her and her husband and child at their house in Big Easonburg Woods near Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Which, of course, reminds me of the excellent book by John J. Dorfner, Kerouac: Visions of Rocky Mount (that you can purchase by contacting the author at johnjdorfner@gmail.com).

RIP, Mrs. Blake.


Friday, September 17, 2021

Happy Birthday to William Carlos Williams

 

Dr. William Carlos Williams

Poet William Carlos Williams was born this date -- September 17 -- in 1883. He was a significant influence on the Beat generation writers, especially Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg discusses a 1957 visit he and Jack Kerouac and Gregory Corso and Peter Orlovsky paid to Williams here. Ginsberg says Kerouac romanced up Williams' wife, Flossie, in the kitchen. According to Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia, when the visitors asked him to impart some wisdom, the 73-year-old Williams pointed out the window and smiled, saying, "'There's a lot of bastards out there'" (Memory Babe, 1994, p. 541).

You can read a little bit about Williams on the Friends of Kerouac site here. And, of course, you can Google him for more. Williams wrote the introduction to Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl."

Williams was Doctor Musial in Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. In Memory Babe, Gerald Nicosia says Kerouac's writing style was influenced by Williams' "attempt to write with the 'measured pauses' of speech" (1994, p. 453).

Before presenting one of Williams' more well-known poems, I want to point out that he was not just an acclaimed poet, but also a practicing physician in his hometown of Rutherford, N.J.

I love the following poem by Williams. This version is from Poetry Foundation, a comprehensive poetry site where you can read a bio of Williams here.



Happy Birthday, Dr. Williams!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Full text of On The Road and The Dharma Bums

 


I swiped the below files from a website and use them a bunch for searching within the text of these two influential Kerouac novels.

On The Road

The Dharma Bums


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Happy Birthday to John Allen Cassady

 


Today we send birthday greetings to John Allen Cassady, son of Neal and Carolyn Cassady. He was born this date in 1951. John appeared in several Kerouac works: as Timmy Pomeray in Book of Dreams, Desolation Angels. and Visions of Cody; as Timmy John Pomeray in Big Sur; and, as Jim Pomeray in Beat Generation (early draft).

You can visit his website HERE.

Happy Birthday, John.




Remembering photographer Robert Frank

                                     


Famed photographer Robert Frank died on this date -- September 9 -- in 2019. We wrote about his death HERE and his birthday HERE.

Frank appeared in one Kerouac work (under his own name) -- an essay about their trip to Florida that appeared in the January 1970 Evergreen Review.

RIP, Mr. Frank.


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Missed a few important Kerouac dates in September

My dog-eared and annotated copy of On The Road

We've been away for a few days and thus I missed posting about several Kerouac-related dates.

Most importantly, I missed the anniversary of the publication of On The Road on September 5, 1957! It no less than launched our boy Jack into literary stardom.

On September 3 we neglected to remember the birthday of Justin Brierly. Read what we said about him on this occasion last year HERE,

On September 6 we neglected to remember the death of Joan Vollmer Adams (1951) and the birth of Natalie Jackson (1931). Read what we said about them on this occasion HERE.

That's it for missed dates in September. I may miss some more, so forgive me in advance.