Culture & Criticism Since 2003
Fans of novelist Jack Kerouac will hail the publication of The Haunted Life as a major event offering a naked glimpse into the origins of the man who would become the father of the literary movement that gave birth to myriad aspects of our popular culture. Kerouac wrote The Haunted Life while studying at Columbia University; it is reported that he intended it to be part of a trilogy that would delineate the journey of his family (“the Martins”) while cloaked in the relative safety of fiction. Readers should be prepared for some new information here, as The Haunted Life depicts the life and times of Kerouac circa 1944, providing us with the young writer’s perspective on the state of America as it whirled through the tumult of Word War II. Concurrently, Kerouac was embroiled in a murder investigation after his friend Lucien Carr stabbed David Kammerer to death – an event which apparently led, at least in part, to his marriage to Edie Parker. Kerouac’s idea to mold The Haunted Life into a series of novellas that would paint a picture of his buried self was quelled after he inexplicably lost the only copy of his handwritten manuscript in a cab. The Haunted Life remained lost for some 60 years until it appeared at Christies a decade ago. Now, its publication reveals much about the hidden Kerouac: countless passages are tinged with sorrow and a profound sadness, spotlighting the tormented heart of the novelist who enlightened the world with his honesty and lyricism. As The Haunted Life shows, Kerouac used words as mask and shield – books and poems serving as armor to protect him from the harsh realities of consciousness. Attentive readers will no doubt covet the selected correspondence between Jack Kerouac and his father Leo which provide a key to unlocking the mind of a writer who continues to command our rapt attention some 45-years after his death. Performed by Liev Schreiber and Luke Daniels: Their obvious connection to Kerouac and his work contribute to a transcendental experience as words on paper swell into living breathing flames.