Happy Birthday, Jack!

From Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of Beat novelist Jack Kerouac, born Jean-Louise Kerouac, in Lowell Massachusetts (1922). He grew up speaking French, and couldn’t speak English fluently until junior high. He was a football star in high school and got an athletic scholarship to Columbia University. It was there that he became friends with Allen Ginsberg.

In 1951 he sat at his kitchen table, taped sheets of Chinese art paper together to make a long roll, and wrote the story of the cross-country road trips he took with Neal Cassady. It had no paragraphs and very little punctuation and Allen Ginsberg called it ”a magnificent single paragraph several blocks long, rolling, like the road itself.” And that became Kerouac’s novel On the Road (1957).

For the Kerouac enthusiast, Viking Press will release a 50th anniversary edition of On the Road. This uncensored version contains text that was removed from the released version because it was deemed too explicit for 1957 audiences. It will be drawn solely from the original scroll and the only things not included will be things that Kerouac himself crossed out.

If you’d like to hear more, Tim Gallaher of USC has a page of Kerouac readings.

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