Thursday, February 5, 2015

Jack Kerouac - The Haunted Life

I've been reading Jack Kerouac's The Haunted Life.  Did you know that Kerouac thought that he had possibly lost the manuscript in a taxicab?  Turns out that was not quite the case.

According to the Todd Tietchen in the book's introduction,

"The lost manuscript resurfaced as an entry in the Sotheby's auction catalog in June 2002, fifty-eight years after its disappearance.   The manuscript had been willed to the seller by his longtime domestic partner, who claimed to have discovered it decades earlier in the closet of a Columbia University dorm room. ...Kerouac had spent October 1944 living in Allen Ginsberg's dorm room at Columbia..."  
Tietchen continues:
"While the thought of his manuscript making the rounds of Manhattan's streets in the backseat of a yellow cab probably struck Kerouac as both poignant and romantic, the truth of the matter seems to be that he had left the manuscript in Ginsberg's room after accepting a berth on the merchant vessel Robert Treat Paine (only to jump ship in Virginia and head back to New York).  Why he subsequently lost track of the manuscript is impossible to say, though, true to its title, The Haunted Life eventually rematerialized in public sight like an apparition whose business in the world had been cut unexpectedly short."
Isn't that last sentence fabulous...rematerialized in public sight?  Let's luxuriate in the beauty of words.

Well, I don't know about you, but I also believe in poignant romance.  Here is my imaginings of Kerouac pounding the streets the NYC, desperately wondering which cab speeding by him carried the missing pages of his potential masterpiece.  Perhaps the sheets were flying out the window, taking on a further life of mystery, swirling through the air and absorbing more life than what already was contained on the page.

P.S.  I just thought of something!  Have any of you seen 2000's Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas and Robert Downey, Jr. and originally written by Michael Chabon in 1995?  (One of my top ten favorite movies by the way.)  There is a scene at the end of the movie where innumerable pages dance there way off into nowhere as well.  I'll have to watch that DVD for the 358th time.

February 7, 2015.  HEY peeps, here's an update, and it comes courtesy of Buzz Bain, a FB friend, from Oregon.  Check out the original blog post at   and check out the video of Kerouac's artwork from the New York Public Library's Kerouac collection.

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