It was forty years ago today that Jack Kerouac died a rather ignominious death in Florida. The man who seemed so full of enthusiasm and hope in his early writings spent the last few years of his life as a bitter, rambling, anti-semitic (allegedly) drunk.
Kerouac may not have been the greatest writer in the world, probably not even the best writer amongst the Beats. But to me as an impressionable teenager with On The Road, he was responsible for writing the most vital, exciting book that I had read and which I have re read maybe five or six times and continued to enjoy. The rest of his writings range from the very good, Dharma Bums and The Subterraneans to the downright unreadable mess that was Visions of Cody.
For a really insightful read on the beats and the love triangle that formed around Kerouac, Neal Cassady and Cassady’s wife, Carolyn, Off the Road by Carolyn Cassidy is worth getting hold of.
10 000 Maniacs – Hey Jack Kerouac