Jack Kerouac’s centenary

Jack Kerouac, one of my literary heroes, would have turned 100 today. I have spent this year reading some of the books in my personal library by or about him that I had not yet read. It is time to reread On the Road, which I first read thirty years ago. I wonder what I will think of it now, after three decades of adulthood and being on the road myself. Here are some of my favourite pictures of Kerouac, including some of the ones I pasted into my various daily diaries:

I pasted this photo into three diaries (my five-year diary from 1988 to 1990; its sequel from January 1, 1991 to October 18, 1991; and the one after that from October 18, 1991 to July 26, 1992).

I pasted this photo into my diary (July 27, 1992 to December 31, 1992).

I had a scary sense of déjà vu as I looked on-line for these photos. Appearing along with the various photos of Kerouac were snapshots of his manuscripts. I could have sworn that they were scans of my own work, for I used to type up extremely long diary entries without any heed of paragraphs or spacing between the lines. I filled up entire letter-size pieces of paper with margin-busting line after line. I shrank these pages on the photocopier at work, glued them together and inserted them into the diary so that they folded out like elaborate cassette J-cards. These run-on entries resembled Kerouac’s scrolls, but they read left-to-right instead of downward. He was a direct influence on how I kept my diaries.

Coop Breizh, a publisher of Breton books, sends me regular notices of new imprints. In mid-February was I ever surprised to see that On the Road has now been translated into Breton. Kerouac, born to Québécois parents, traces his ancestors to Brittany. The Kerouac surname is unmistakably Breton.

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