Monday, March 12, 2018

Happy birthday to Beat writer Jack Kerouac: The only people for me are the mad ones ...

Jack Kerouac, Beat poet and author
It is the birthday of writer Jack Kerouac (1922), the iconoclast and Beat poet, whose epic On the Road was hailed as a literary achievement and brought him fame as the voice of a new generation. Kerouac considered himself a Catholic writer. "I'm not a beatnik," he once said. "I'm a Catholic." Biographer Douglas Brinkley said On the Road has been misinterpreted as story of a couple of friends in search of kicks. But, for Kerouac, it was a search for God. Every page of his diary had a prayer or a crucifix or an appeal to God to be forgiven. Kerouac lived with his mother in St. Petersburg when the last book published before his death, Vanity of Duluoz (1968), came out. He frequented such establishments as The Wild Boar in Tampa and The Flamingo in St. Petersburg. He died in St. Anthony's Hospital on October 21, 1969, the result of alcohol abuse. He was 47. A passage from On the Road, though written about others, may describe him best: "I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes Awww!"

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