Today marks what would have been the 90th birthday of my all-time hero, Jean Louis Kerouac. Born in 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts, Kerouac wrote some of my favourite books but is best known for On The Road, his tale of a friendship between himself and Neal Cassady and the way they lived their lives for a few years.
I first read On The Road about 10 years ago after reading something about it somewhere. I really didn’t have any clue who Kerouac was or what the book was about, but I was ordering some other book on Amazon so decided to buy an old second hand copy from Amazon too – for about £1.20 – and eagerly anticipated its arrival.
Looking back now, I can’t remember what the other book I ordered was, but I do recall opening my copy of On The Road and starting to read the print on the yellowed, old pages.
Although I went on to love the book, and read all of Kerouac’s works, I actually didn’t think much of it at first. I read it fairly quickly and upon finishing it I wasn’t quite sure how to react to it, all I could do was read it again. Which I did. The second read through had the effect that the book’s own back-cover blurb promised.
I was hooked on this writer’s style and take on events and I was inspired! I had always wanted to be a writer and reading Kerouac’s prose just sent me over the edge! I ordered all the Kerouac books I could afford and set about reading it all! I think Kerouac’s work divides opinion but I couldn’t care less. To me it is perfect and it’s just full of poetic, moving, genuine writing that hits me right in the heart and puts its arm around my shoulder like an old friend and tells me how it’s the simplest things that make life so special and worth living.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been in positions to indulge myself in the life of Kerouac, devouring books by him and about him, and traveling to some amazing places. My love of Kerouac has taken me to his hometown and resting place of Lowell, about an hour outside of Boston, and a city that features heavily in his writing and legend, San Francisco. I’m planning a separate blog post on my few visits to North Beach’s The Beat Museum so won’t discuss it here, but it is absolutely brilliant and run by a really cool guy in Jerry Cimino. Check out their awesome new web site HERE.
Last Friday was pretty special as the movie trailer for On The Road was released. It looks like its going to be true to the spirit of the text and live up to the very high expectations placed upon it. What a great way to celebrate the birthday of the man himself, who was very keen on his novel being made into a Hollwood motion picture!