Another beginning. I was writing to the publicity guy who does the Library of America that he had better get ready for a shit storm when the Library of America publishes the COLLECTED POEMS OF JACK KEROUAC. There will be great squeals of disgust, accusations of pandering, the question of standards, how could you when you have not published… all the rest of it.
2- My first question why did the Library only do one volume of Kerouac’s prose focused upon ON THE ROAD THE DHARMA BUMS< THE SUBTERRANEANS, TRISTESSA, LONESOME TRAVELER when to be complete there is an immediate need for all the other prose books: BIG SUR, MAGGIE CASSIDY, SATORI IN PARIS (the most under-rated of K’s books and the saddest) PIC (the most daring) and all the rest.
7- It is my firm belief that ON THE ROAD is the equivalent to Melville’s MOBY DICK. ON THE ROAD is the singular American novel of the 20th Century as is MOBY DICK of the 19th Century. Tim Hunt has begun the intellectual and academic job of building the case though readers in every country of the world have done the job for him in the sense that it is the one novel read in nearly every language of the world by those who read in those individual languages who really read. No other American novel can make that claim.
4- So, the real scandal of the Library of America is why have they not published Melville’s collected poetry? Of course as Geoffrey O’Brien--- Editor in Chief of LOA--- has told me, That book will be published but just not in our lifetimes. A reason, I would think, to live on into…
67- So, while we wait for the remaining prose book of Kerouac from LOA we have the Collected Poetry… and down here on East First Street that is cause for celebration.
9- After T.S. Eliot’s opening line to The Waste Land, April is the cruelest month… and Ezra Pound’s opening line to Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, For three years, out of key with his time… I have quoted Jack Kerouac’s TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. Don’t use the telephone/People are never ready to answer it./Use poetry. (Sadly there has to be a note as to why EDWARD DAHLBERG is/was)
78- And I carried for years as a bookmark a card with Kerouac’s WOMAN. A woman is beautiful/but/you have to swing/and swing and swing/and swing like/a handkerchief in the/wind.
85- I turn the page in the collected poetry: GOOFBALL BLUES: I’m just a human being with a lot of/shit on my heart.
6- Or:::: OLD ANGEL MIDNIGHT:::: Friday Afternoon In the Universe, in all directions in & out you got your men women dogs children horses pones tics perts parts pans pools palls pails parturiences and petty Thieveries tat turn into heavenly Buddha--- I know boy what’s I talkin about case I made the world & when I made it I no lie & had Old Angel Midnight for my name and concocted up a world so nothing…
39- From Uncollected Haikus The sound of silence/is all the instruction/you’ll get
43- Years and years ago I remember in embarrassed naivety NOW talking with Julian Green in Paris who had envied my being an altar boy as we sat In his elegant rue Vaneau apartment and him in the French Academy and me a little drunk—that special academy--- and me talking about Jack Kerouac who Green had heard of but who thought that the mixing of Buddhism with Catholicism un-necessary and yet I thought it important enough to mention to Green, about who Kerouac was and is still the most important American writer who happened also to be a Catholic who believed with the necessary belief of Green’s Idealized Italian painter who never asks why: what’s the point, since only belief matters… and years later Green finally told me the real truly, finally something and which scandalized the pathetic agnostic, atheist Guardian readers where I published this profile/interview with Green--- something Kerouac knew: when I asked Green in his 90s what he had to look forward to, replied: Purgatory and I know JK was seeking that in the final stupidity of his alcoholism, though …
44- The story of man/Makes me sick/Inside,outside,/I don’t know why/Something so conditional/And all talk/Should hurt me so./
I am hurt/I am scared/I want to live/I want to die/I don’t know/Where to turn/in the Void/and when/to cut/Out
45- My only problem with the LOA editon: they disgraced the cover with a quote from the consummate fake Anne Waldman who has made a huge living by parading about with the mere rotten flesh of Ginsberg and Kerouac and Burroughs hanging off her skirt.
57- from MEXICO CITY BLUES: 1, A home for unmarried fathers.
2. Well, that about does me in./I've packed my bags and time /Has come to start to heaven.
3. Love’s multitudinous boneyard/of decay.
Another beginning . The other day for fifty cents I bought the April 1966 mass market paperback of Jack Kerouac’s DESOLATION ANGELS published by Bantam for 95 cents. FROM THE INTERNATIONAL UNDERGROUND OF THE BEAT GENERATION. On the cover stark black and white figures of six humans, centered upon a bare-chested man and a woman seen from behind wearing only a bra, positioned on top of what might be the Washington Square Arch...
I mention this because there are no longer mass market paperback that are actually literary and readable. I was forced to live in exile that early Fall of 1966 in my parents’ exile in Menasha, Wisconsin. In the city next to Menasha, Neenah was a large smoke shop and bookstore with many racks of paper backs and it was likely that this book would have been there.
All of that has been wiped away. The Signet and Bantam Classics, the Avon Books, books that would introduce South American literature to a mass audience… and make no mistake about it these pocketbooks, were published for a mass audience.
At one moment, now long gone, some people thought that the masses wanted to read literature. That has changed and now those people, those masses talk about liking the books that I like to read, my books, my library and they are talking in reality about a range of books from James Patterson to Jonathan Franzen… and if you think there is a difference between Franzen and Patterson you are not really reading these words… and it could be Franzen is a pen-name for James Patterson…