Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Novelist Jean-Louis "Jack" Kérouac was born on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts. He dropped out of Columbia University but lingered in New York with a group he later called the “Beat Generation,” including Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, John Clellon Holmes, Herbert Huncke and William S. Burroughs. "Beat" colloquially meant "beaten down" but Kerouac used it to connote "upbeat" and (in a musical sense) "on the beat." The group was associated with social rebellion, drug experimentation and Eastern religion. Kerouac’s long road trips with Neal Cassady (1947-1950) resulted in his novel On the Road (1957), which he drafted in notebooks and then typed single-spaced on a continuous, 127-foot scroll of paper, without margins or paragraph breaks. Influenced by jazz, Kerouac referred to his style as spontaneous prose. Many praised the book, but others demurred. Truman Capote famously said about Kerouac's work, "That's not writing, it's typing."