Remembering Jack Kerouac on his birthday

Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac

Today is the birthday of Jack Kerouac, Edward Albee and Carl Hiaasen, according to the Writer’s Almanac. Three writers born on the same day! Albee is, of course, best remembered for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Which starred Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Hiaasen is a bestseller.

Kerouac  (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) is something else – a Beat generation pioneer , a legend.

I just happened to dip into his most famous book, On the Road, and was instantly carried away by his descriptions of America. Here’s how it ends. The writing is so vivid and poetic.

So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.

Here’s a longer excerpt, from Part 2, where Sal begins his journey, travelling all the way from New York through New England to Chicago. Joliet and Davenport, via Rock Island, where he catches his first glimpse of the Mississippi.

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