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About the Author: Jack Kerouac

Born on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Jack Kerouac's writing career began in the 1940s, but didn't meet with commercial success until 1957, when On the Road was published. The book became an American classic that defined the Beat Generation. Kerouac died on October 21, 1969, from an abdominal hemorrhage, at age 47.
Early Life

Famed writer Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts. A thriving mill town in the mid-19th century, Lowell had become, by the time of Jack Kerouac's birth, a down-and-out burg where unemployment and heavy drinking prevailed. Kerouac's parents, Leo and Gabrielle, were immigrants from Quebec, Canada; Kerouac learned to speak French at home before he learned English at school. Leo Kerouac owned his own print shop, Spotlight Print, in downtown Lowell, and Gabrielle Kerouac, known to her children as Memere, was a homemaker. Kerouac later described the family's home life: "My father comes home from his printing shop and undoes his tie and removes [his] 1920s vest, and sits himself down at hamburger and boiled potatoes and bread and butter, and with the kiddies and the good wife."

Jack Kerouac endured a childhood tragedy in the summer of 1926, when his beloved older brother Gerard died of rheumatic fever at the age of 9. Drowning in grief, the Kerouac family embraced their Catholic faith more deeply. Kerouac's writing is full of vivid memories of attending church as a child: "From the open door of the church warm and golden light swarmed out on the snow. The sound of the organ and singing could be heard."

Kerouac's two favorite childhood pastimes were reading and sports. He devoured all the 10-cent fiction magazines available at the local stores, and he also excelled at football, basketball and track. Although Kerouac dreamed of becoming a novelist and writing the "great American novel," it was sports, not writing, that Kerouac viewed as his ticket to a secure future. With the onset of the Great Depression, the Kerouac family suffered from financial difficulties, and Kerouac's father turned to alcohol and gambling to cope. His mother took a job at a local shoe factory to boost the family income, but, in 1936, the Merrimack River flooded its banks and destroyed Leo Kerouac's print shop, sending him into a spiral of worsening alcoholism and condemning the family to poverty. Kerouac, who was, by that time, a star running back on the Lowell High School football team, saw football as his ticket to a college scholarship, which in turn might allow him to secure a good job and save his family's finances.

Upon graduating from high school in 1939, Kerouac received a football scholarship to Columbia University, but first he had to attend a year of preparatory school at the Horace Mann School for Boys in Brooklyn. So, at the age of 17, Kerouac packed his bags and moved to New York City, where he was immediately awed by the limitless new experiences of big city life. Of the many wonderful new things Kerouac discovered in New York, and perhaps the most influential on his life, was jazz. He described the feeling of walking past a jazz club in Harlem: "Outside, in the street, the sudden music which comes from the nitespot fills you with yearning for some intangible joy—and you feel that it can only be found within the smoky confines of the place." It was also during his year at Horace Mann that Kerouac first began writing seriously. He worked as a reporter for the Horace Mann Record, and published short stories in the school's literary magazine, the Horace Mann Quarterly.

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Jack Kerouac est né en 1922 à Lowell, dans le Massachusetts, et est considéré comme l’un des auteurs américains les plus importants du XXe siècle. Son œuvre la plus connue, Sur la route (On The Road, 1957), est l’un des romans fondateurs de ce que Kerouac nomma lui-même la Beat Generation, mouvement littéraire et culturel américain autour duquel se sont regroupés, n


Other books by Jack Kerouac

 
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Goodreads rating: 3.86

Paperback, Published in May 2012 by Penguin Classics

ISBN10: 0141198257 | ISBN13: 9780141198255

Page count: 192

In 1960 Jack Kerouac was near breaking point. Driven mad by constant press attention in the wake of the publication of On the Road, he needed to 'get away to solitude again or die', so he withdrew to a cabin in Big Sur on the Californian coast. The resulting novel, in which his autobiographical hero Jack Duluoz wrestles with doubt, alcohol dependency and his urge towards self-destruction, is one of Kerouac's most personal and searingly honest works. Ending with the poem 'Sea: Sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur', it shows a man coming down from his hedonistic youth and trying to come to terms with fame, the world and himself.

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