Kerouac wrote that he “always considered writing his duty on earth.” Merrimack Valley Conference writer and sportsman Jay Atkinson has an essay about the endurance of Jack Kerouac in today’s Boston Globe. We’re waiting for Jay to have a regular Sunday column on words and books in the Globe. He’s ready for the assignment. Jay has a book about Kerouac called “Paradise Road” in which he tracks Jack on the blue highways of America, starting in Lowell. Read the Globe piece here, and get the Globe if you want more writing like this.
Jack Kerouac (Tom Polumbo, c. 1956)
MassMoments reminds us that – Jack Kerouac noted in his diary that he had written “2500 words today in a few hours. This may be it — freedom. And mastery! — so long denied me in my long mournful years of work . . . Not that it’s easier, it’s only more myself.” By this day - March 23 – in 1948 an “upbeat” Kerouac estimated that at his current rate he could complete his 360,000-word project in the next two months. His first novel “The Town and the City” was published in 1950.
…in 1948, Lowell native Jack Kerouac happily noted in his diary that he had written 2500 words. If he could keep up this pace, he would finish his first novel in a matter of weeks. The highly autobiographical The Town and the City was published in 1950, the same year he began writing On the Road, the novel that earned him the title “Father of the Beat Generation.” By the time he died at the age of 47 Jack Kerouac had published 14 books. On the Road is Kerouac’s most-read work today; it is widely considered one of the most important and influential American novels of the twentieth century, and Jack Kerouac is celebrated as one of Lowell’s favorite sons.
Read the full article here
I picked up this item from the latest newsletter from the Beat Museum in San Francisco (www.kerouac.com). There’s a link to the Christie’s auction house site where you can see the letter from Jack Kerouac to Marlon Brando, urging the actor to acquire the film rights to Kerouac’s then-redhot novel “On the Road.” The letter is undated, but the novel was published in 1957. Brando’s Estate sold the letter.
The letter is fascinating, so click to enlarge the document when you get to the Christie’s site. You’ll be surprised to read what Kerouac had to say about his ambition, theatre and movies in America, and his vision for the “On the Road” film, which has finally been made. Here’s the item from the Beat Museum newsletter:
KEROUAC’S LETTER TO MARLON BRANDO
I mentioned in the last newsletter that Jack Kerouac wrote a letter to Marlon Brando in 1957 or 1958 (it’s not dated) detailing how Jack and Marlon should co-write a screenplay for On The Road and that Brando would play Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty) and Jack would play himself (Sal Paradise). So many people wrote to ask where they could see that letter that I thought I’d post a link to Christie’s website so you can see it for yourself. You’ll note the letter sold for $33,600. A greater association between a writer and an actor is hard to find. I especially like how Kerouac ended the letter: “Come on now, Marlon, put up your dukes and write!” – an obvious reference to “I coulda been a contender” from 1954′s “On The Waterfront”. NOTE to anonymous buyer: If you’d like to donate or loan this prize possession to The Beat Museum, we’ll put it on display for the world to see… much better than being locked up in your vault.
See the letter here and enlarge for reading.