just like jack kerouac

It’s a good thing I was already a smoker, and a rather heavy smoker at that, before I embarked on my re-read of Kerouac’s On The Road, because this book surely would have driven me to cigarettes. It’s the type of book that must be read in one great dizzy mad rush beneath a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of cheap whiskey. (Not yet being 21 — four days! — I am forgoing the whiskey, but I think it would certainly enhance the experience.) I’ve read it before — or rather, most of it; I was young and remarkably prudish and I skipped whole chapters at a time — and I hated it then, but now I find that I like parts of it enormously. Sometimes it is impossible not to be caught up in his joy.

Of course, as always, my mind has been infiltrated completely by his style and I have to make a conscious effort to keep from thinking, speaking, and writing in long Beat-riffs of raw consciousness. This is another reason why I fail as a writer:  I have no voice of my own; I absorb and imitate the style of whichever author I am currently reading. This is not all bad. It makes me an extremely good paralegal secretary, as it took only a day of reading through files for me to pick up and perfectly imitate legalese.

I’ve been depressive and anxious lately, but in the past two days I have made two small accomplishments that are buoying my spirits:

1. I made a bird-shaped whistle out of clay. I gashed my finger with an X-acto knife in the process, but it turned out well. It makes noise and everything! I don’t know if it will still whistle after I bake it, and I doubt that I’ll bother to paint it or anything, but still, I felt like the goddamnest most clever person this side of the Mississippi.

2. I have been managing, for the first time in years, to write first drafts of stories and things on the computer. This is more momentous than it sounds — I stopped typing things when I was fifteen or so and took to handwriting every single word before I could put it on the computer, from essays to emails to poetry to stories. The sudden ability to go straight from head to computer is a small miracle.


~ by Not Alice on June 19, 2007.

One Response to “just like jack kerouac”

  1. Hey, Tatter. I found your site while tinkering around on wordpress. I’m a reluctant Kerouac fan and suggest checking out Lonesome Traveler. I found it much more honest than On the Road.

    Also, you’ve not failed as a writer. Not to sound too prickish, but voice, I’ve been told, is not found but written toward. I agree that “Beat-riffs” are tough to stomach, especially at a reading (another story, another time), but voice is something that’s cultivated from the husks of your influences. So, don’t get too down on yourself about that. Leave the loathing to the critics, right?

    Anyway, good blog. Have you read any William Burroughs yet? Or D.A. Levi? Weird dudes, no doubt, but pretty good reads nonetheless.


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