Sunday, August 11, 2013

Luckily, Kerouac Never Became A Sportswriter


On a recent HST Friday we noted  Dr. Thompson's flip-flopping on the genius that was Jack Keroauc.

The much more venomous comments came from a young, pre-docktoral HST just after he got out of a forced hitch in the Airforce, which he managed to get through by becoming a weirdly wired sportswriting Grantland Riceian-type figure.

Or some such thing.

Kerouac himself also spent a stint in the forces.

But Kerouac's time in the Naval Reserve was much more short-lived. Miriam Kleinman tells the story in the US National Archives 'Prologue' magazine:

...Kerouac enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve (then called the U.S. Naval Reserve) during World War II (at the age of 21 - see image above). But he never left the United States, never saw action, and never even completed basic training.

In all, he lasted 10 days of boot camp before being referred first to the sick bay and then the psychiatric ward for 67 days. Kerouac's extensive medical and psychiatric evaluations produced both a large file and the conclusion that he was "unfit for service."

The qualities that made On the Road a huge success and Kerouac a powerful storyteller, guide, and literary icon are the same ones that rendered him remarkably unsuitable for the military: independence, creativity, impulsivity, sensuality, and recklessness...

And thank the goddess for all that, eh?

Remember all this from the Vanity of Duluoz, but got onto the picture and Kleiman's story through the wonderful Open Culture blog which is worth a visit every single day.
Speaking of Jack....This.
And, just because it's Sunday....There is more than a little bit of self-interest in this one, but Paul Wells has a good piece up on the shift away from the funding of pure basic science in this country.



motorcycleguy said...

I did not know's the timeline, did Kerouac inspire the "Group W bench" or the other way around?

RossK said...


You talking Arlo Guthrie's 'Group W Bench' from Alice's Restaurant?...That came way later...Kerouac, 1943 (volunteered)...HST, 1956 (forcibly volunteered to get out of jail)...Arlo, 1967 (getting out of the draft by 'litterin')...