Friday, March 12, 2010
Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac (pronounced /ˈkɛruːæk, ˈkɛrəwæk/; March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist and poet. Alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, he is considered a pioneer of the Beat Generation, and a literary iconoclast.
Kerouac is held as an important writer both for his spontaneous style and for his content which consistently dealt with such topics as jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. His writings have inspired several prominent writers, including Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Robbins, Thomas Pynchon, Lester Bangs, Will Clarke, Richard Brautigan, Ken Kesey, Haruki Murakami, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and writers of the New Journalism.
Though his works were largely shunned as "slapdash," "grossly sentimental," and "immoral" in the socially conservative 1950s, and as bafflingly conservative in the liberal 1960s, Kerouac did manage to acquire underground celebrity status and was, for a time, labeled as a progenitor of the Hippie movement. Disenchanted with mainstream America and never having gotten over the death of his older brother when he was four years old, Kerouac lost his battle to alcoholism and died at the age of 47 in 1969.
Since his death, and thanks in large part to the efforts of editor Ann Charters, Kerouac's literary prestige has steadily grown over the years, with several previously unpublished works surfacing, and all of his books being in print today, among them: On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody and Big Sur.