October 1, 2014

Jack Kerouac: “The road is life”

Courtesy New York Times

Courtesy New York Times

I have a photograph of Jack Kerouac typing his famous piano-roll manuscript of On the Road hanging on my study wall. I saw the scroll when I visited the museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. It was amazing to see it stretched out. Jack purportedly wrote it in a three-week, hyper-caffeinated marathon in his mother’s apartment. She made the coffee and taped the pieces of paper together.

Three weeks.

Then he revised it for three years.

You could sum up his philosophy in the four words quoted above: “The road is life.” Lowell has honored its once-maligned author by giving him a new headstone at his grave site. You can read about it here. If you’d like to know a bit more about Kerouac, here is a fine essay about him and his writing. The photo of the scroll is a shot inside the Kerouac Museum, in an old mill in Lowell.


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