Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Searching For Newsprint.


When she was in New York and bought me my dead tree version of the Sunday Times last week littler e. was staying at an Airbnb place on the Upper Westside.

Almost sixty years ago Jack Kerouac was living in that part of town, but not with his second wife (and to be mom to daughter Jan) Joan Haverty, who was there when the 120 feet of teletype was spontaneously prosified from a whole lot of journal entries and such in 1951.

Instead, when he finally got his book deal in 1957, six years after the first full draft was done, Ti Jean's partner at the time was Joyce Glassman.

And on the night before 'On the Road' was finally published Kerouac and Glassman went out searching for early editions of that day's papers so they could read the reviews.

The most important of which was written by Gilbert Millstein in the Times.

Millstein's lede alone changed everything for the then already 35 yr old Kerouac who had written seven unpublished works since the coffee- and benny-driven days and nights of the teletype scroll:

On the Road" is the second novel by Jack Kerouac, and its publication is a historic occasion in so far as the exposure of an authentic work of art is of any great moment in an age in which the attention is fragmented and the sensibilities are blunted by the superlatives of fashion (multiplied a millionfold by the speed and pound of communications).

This book requires exegesis and a detailing of background. It is possible that it will be condescended to by, or make uneasy, the neo-academicians and the "official" avant-garde critics, and that it will be dealt with superficially elsewhere as merely "absorbing" or "intriguing" or "picaresque" or any of a dozen convenient banalities, not excluding "off beat." But the fact is that "On the Road" is the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as "beat," and whose principal avatar he is. 

Just as, more than any other novel of the Twenties, "the Sun Also Rises" came to be regarded as the testament of the "Lost Generation," so it seems certain that "On the Road" will come to be known as that of the "Beat Generation." There is, otherwise, no similarity between the two: technically and philosophically, Hemingway and Kerouac are, at the very least, a depression and a world war apart...

I'm pretty sure that my kids think that, these days at least, this business of searching for hardcopies of newspapers with stuff about your actual words in them only happens to people like Lena Dunham's character in 'Girls'....I could be wrong about that though...I'm sure they'll let me know either way.
And just what the heckfire was Millstein thinking, writing about 'avatars' in 1957?
Glassman is pictured in the background of the image, above...She, too, was a writer and the photo comes from the cover of her book titled 'Minor Characters'...You can find her in Keruoac's ouevre as Alyce Newman in 'Desolation Angels'.



motorcycleguy said...

There was a time not long ago I would not have been able to appreciate this post, alas with step-daughter #1 just finished an honours English degree in post modern lit (and recently returning from speaking at the recent David Foster Wallace "convention").....I can reach for a copy of Desolation Angels from my chair in the living room. She even collects vinyl. So let your kids know there is another household where one cannot reach for a glass of cheap red wine without knocking re-purposed dead trees off the table. Step-daughter #2 is living in New York attending NYU and has made it a point to visit those old "beat" haunts. Kind of evens out my books on how to properly tension primary chains.

RossK said...


Evening everything out is a good thing!

Interesting kids you've got there.