History.com reminds us that on this day September 5, 1957, New York Times writer Gilbert Millstein wrote a rave review about “On the Road” the second novel by Lowell-born writer Jack Kerouac. He quotes: “Jack went to bed obscure,” Kerouac’s girlfriend told a reporter, “and woke up famous.”
“On the Road” is an autobiographical novel about a series of cross-country automobile trips that Kerouac made between 1947 and 1950, both by himself and with his friend Neal Cassady. Cassady–Dean Moriarty in the book–was a colorful character, a charming and good-looking hustler, occasional car thief (or not-so-occasional: he claimed to have stolen more than 500 cars while growing up on the streets of Denver), and aspiring writer who accompanied Kerouac on most of his journeys. (Cassady usually drove; after a childhood car accident, Kerouac hated to be behind the wheel.) In fact, Kerouac was inspired by Cassady’s straightforward, vernacular writing style–the poet Frank O’Hara described it as “I do this, I do that”–and he adapted it to his own epic narrative: To tell the story of his journey, he just wrote down what happened.
Read the full article here at history.com.
In this daily compilation of noteworthy events, history.com places the items under different categories such as “Civil War”, “disaster” and the like. This Kerouac “On the Road” review is placed in the “automotive” category! To be fair it’s also listed under “literary” and includes this biographical sketch:
Kerouac was born in March 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. The son of French-Canadian parents, he learned English as a second language. In high school, Kerouac was a football star and won a scholarship to Columbia University. In World War II, he served in the Navy but was expelled for severe personality problems. He became a merchant seaman. In the late 1940s, he wandered the United States and Mexico and wrote his first novel, The Town and the City. His later novels included The Dharma Bums (1958), The Subterraneans (1958), and Lonesome Traveler (1960). Kerouac was a heavy drinker when he died in Florida from an internal hemorrhage, at the age of 47, on October 21, 1969.
Read more here at history.com.