Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Yesterday I finished reading 'Door wide open' an account of a love affair between Jack Kerouac and Joyce Johnson. They say that the wife of a politician can humanise the person. Getting to know Joyce has helped me to figure out the sort of person that Kerouac was. The book is a fascinating insight into how the man lived. It is not perfect, coming to the end you know what is happening and you have to remember that Joyce was about 21 and Jack was about 36. In one of the sparkling moments of the book, Jack writes Joyce this poem: (see the link)

image of Jack Kerouac poem

Kerouac is a complex character - on the one hand quite wild, outrageous, a genius writer - on the other hand quite concerned with caring for his mother and buying a house for her. Joyce feels that his mother ruined her relationship.

Kerouac isn't always 'on the road'. He hates publicity, he gets drunk quite a lot, he is very unreliable. The reality of this book is that there are real letters from Kerouac, in some parts I found myself preferring to read the letters by Joyce rather than Kerouac. This is quite a strong testimony that Joyce has good beatnik credentials and is a cool girl. Certainly someone I would like to know.

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