Kerouac Biography – End of the Road

February 5, 2015


There are certain books you read, re-read, live and re-read. On the Road was one of them for me. I read it in college, went to San Francisco to become a beatnik only to discover I was fifteen years too late. But ever since, I have dreamed the book, oh not as literature but as the adventure it would always be.

It was reluctance that I read this biography of Kerouac my wife got me from the library. But, I found surprising parallels that kept me going. I was raised Catholic, I tried Zen Buddhism and then drifted away from it.

I did not want to read about Kerouac’s alcoholism and depression later in life, but I did and for me, as for him, it was like a roman candle in the sky…all of a sudden it was over, gone.

Perhaps we need to wake from a dream. Find closure, but what we remember is the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, exploding like a spider across the sky. Everyone going. “Awwwww.”


He stomped across the yard. Through the lighted window

he could see his mother washing supper dishes.

Jack admired the lighted tree in his sister’s living room

while watching the Christmas service from St. Patrick’s

on television.


He wanted to be a wanderer, a “Dharma Bum.” His sister

and her husband weren’t interested. His mother was called

to New York for a funeral.


A funeral reminded him of his older brother Gerald, who

died at only nine years old.


He called Jack “Little Cabbage, Little Wolf, Piece of Butter.”

And at the time of Gerald’s death, Jack expected some

“holy transformation.” A Catholic Resurrection.

Sitting in his sister’s dim kitchen, scribbling with pencil in his

notebook, while his sister hung out clothes in the backyard

with wooden pins in her mouth, he remembered his mother

looking toward the clothesline one December morning and

seeing Gerald come home from school early, dragging his

feet, having fainted in front of the nuns, too weak to be out

of bed again. He would eat a pork chop in his sister’s Rocky

Mount kitchen an hour or so after finishing his novel.

He had eaten one in Lowell, Massachusetts, for lunch the

day of Gerald’s funeral.


– J. Lehman (about Jack Kerouac)



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