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The Haunted Life

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1944 was a troubled and momentous year for Jack Kerouac In March his close friend and literary confidant Sebastian Sampas lost his life on the Anzio beachhead while serving as a US Army medic That spring still reeling with grief over Sebastian Kerouac solidified his friendships with Lucien Carr William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg offsetting the loss of Sampas by immersing himself in New York's blossoming mid century bohemia That August however Carr stabbed his longtime acuaintance and mentor David Kammerer to death in Riverside Park claiming afterwards that he had been defending his manhood against Kammerer's persistent and unwanted advances Kerouac was originally charged in Kammerer's killing as an accessory after the fact as a result of his aiding Carr in disposing of the murder weapon and Kammerer's eyeglasses Conseuently Kerouac was jailed in August 1944 and married his first wife Edie Parker on the twenty second of that month in order to secure the money he needed for his bail bond Eventually the authorities accepted Carr's account of the killing trying him instead for manslaug There are some great lost manuscripts in American literature and some are truly lost Ernest Hemingway famously lost the only draft of the first short stories he ever wrote on a French train Most writers have ‘lost’ manuscripts conspicuously placed in uotes because those stories for whatever reason the writer has are socked away until after their deaths interestingly Hemingway also falls into this category Kerouac’s “The Haunted Life” falls into the category of the truly lost He didn’t know where it had gotten off to he thought he might have left it in the backseat of a NY taxi cab or maybe that was just a nod to Hemingway’s lost manuscript and Kerouac’s own self mythologization What happened was the manuscript of “The Haunted Life” was left in a Columbia College closet perhaps Allen Ginsberg’s Luckily whomever found it held onto it and has now made it’s way to publication“The Haunted Life” as Kerouac had it planned was going to be a three part novel chronicling the effects of war on society The individual sections were to be called ‘Home’ ‘War’ and ‘Changes’ It is the ‘Home’ fragment that has survived It is a “day in the life” of college student Peter Martin home for the summer he visits friends walks around the town meets a girl he’s interested in and meets his father at a bar There is not much overt action but a lot going on in Kerouac’s portrayal of the characters Just as the last chapter of the first section is hitting a crescendo and you’re ready to read what comes after thatit ends Kerouac does display some virtuoso skill for a neophyte work One section that stands out is the dramatization of the passage of time through life illustrated in the span of morning until noon It is subtle and effective and would make any mature writer proud to have written itAs editor Todd Tietchen notes in his introduction Kerouac probably considered the ’Home’ section finished because there were no emendations additions revisions or notes on the text It can be reasoned the other two sections would juxtapose the idealistic reverie Peter Martin experiences in the ’Home’ section It doesn’t seem Kerouac had the time to write the other two parts but readers of Kerouac know that Peter Martin is the protagonist in Kerouac’s first published novel “The Town and the City” After the fragment of “The Haunted Life” Tietchen has included Kerouac’s notes on the story and readers can see “The Haunted Life” material subtly shift if not exactly morph into material for “The Town and the City” Kerouac was surely the ultimate expression of Fitzgerald’s egotist Kerouac’s impetus right from the start is to mythologize his life Even at this early juncture is already developing the archetypes such as ‘the mad poet’ in “The Haunted Life” based on Sebastian Sampas and given the name Garabed Tourain a characterization Kerouac later work into Carlo Marx based on Allen Ginsberg Also the man of action in “Haunted“ is the character of Dick Sheffield based on real life friend Bill Chandler which would find its final iteration in Dean Morarity based on Neal Cassady in “On The Road”“The Haunted Life” was probably written as a reuiem for childhood friends that had been killed in the war especially Sebastian Sampas Kerouac wrote the ‘Home‘ section days after learning of Sampas‘s death Even though “The Haunted Life” may be a memoriam for those lost friends Tietchen hypothesizes “The Haunted Life” and Kerouac’s later work may stand as a memorial for all those lost in the war and whose loss substantially changed the world but also the individualSomething must be said about the idealistic tone of “The Haunte

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Hter and thus nullifying the charges against Kerouac At some point later in the year under circumstances that remain rather mysterious the aspiring writer lost a novella length manuscript titled The Haunted Life a coming of age story set in Kerouac's hometown of Lowell MassachusettsKerouac set his fictional treatment of Peter Martin against the backdrop of the everyday the comings and goings of the shopping district the banter and braggadocio that occurs within the smoky atmospherics of the corner bar the drowsy sound of a baseball game over the radio Peter is heading into his sopho year at Boston College and while home for the summer in Galloway he struggles with the pressing issues of his day the economic crisis of the previous decade and what appears to be the impending entrance of the United States into the Second World War The other principal characters Garabed Tourian and Dick Sheffield are based respectively on Sebastian Sampas and fellow Lowellian Billy Chandler both of whom had already died in combat by the time of Kerouac's drafting of The Haunted Life providing some of the When it comes to new releases from the Kerouac estate I'm sorry to say I believe we've reached the Bukowski Point Right now as I glance at my bookshelves I count over 50 books either by or about Kerouac and I have a hard time believing anything new or interesting has yet to come to light While Kerouac was a prolific writer how much can be mined from this vein Well as it turns out there still some good stuff out there The Haunted Life and Other Writings is a manuscript that Kerouac famously claimed to have left in a NY cab around 1944 As it turns out the manuscript was actually left in a closet in a dorm room at Columbia University At some point it was discovered and remained in a private collection until it was sold in 2002 at Sotheby's for 95K The lost manuscript was Kerouac's most complete attempt at the time at writing what was to become The Town and the City his first novel But what I found interesting than The Haunted Life bit was the Other Writings bit which include a handful of letters written to Jack by his father Leo In Kerouac's books Leo is always portrayed as who he was in real life a hardworking blue collar guy full passion and bombast But these letters show that Jack got at least some of his literary flair from his old man who as it turns out was uite the letter writer himself And that new tidbit of information alone makes The Haunted Life and Other Writings a worthwhile read for any Kerouac devotee The Bukowski Point when a popular writer's work has been mined so ruthlessly that literally ANYTHING good or bad with hisher name on it will be published Why Dolla dolla bill ya'll Who Were the Wright Brothers? later in the year under circumstances that remain rather mysterious the aspiring writer The Expat Diaries lost a novella The Hired Man length manuscript titled The Haunted Life a coming of age story set in Kerouac's hometown of Lowell MassachusettsKerouac set his fictional treatment of Peter Martin against the backdrop of the everyday the comings and goings of the shopping district the banter and braggadocio that occurs within the smoky atmospherics of the corner bar the drowsy sound of a baseball game over the radio Peter is heading into his sopho year at Boston College and while home for the summer in Galloway he struggles with the pressing issues of his day the economic crisis of the previous decade and what appears to be the impending entrance of the United States into the Second World War The other principal characters Garabed Tourian and Dick Sheffield are based respectively on Sebastian Sampas and fellow Lowellian Billy Chandler both of whom had already died in combat by the time of Kerouac's drafting of The Haunted Life providing some of the When it comes to new releases from the Kerouac estate I'm sorry to say I believe we've reached the Bukowski Point Right now as I glance at my bookshelves I count over 50 books either by or about Kerouac and I have a hard time believing anything new or interesting has yet to come to Death of a Ghost light While Kerouac was a prolific writer how much can be mined from this vein Well as it turns out there still some good stuff out there The Haunted Life and Other Writings is a manuscript that Kerouac famously claimed to have The Monk of Mokha left in a NY cab around 1944 As it turns out the manuscript was actually Gods and Generals (The Civil War Trilogy, left in a closet in a dorm room at Columbia University At some point it was discovered and remained in a private collection until it was sold in 2002 at Sotheby's for 95K The Perfect Ponies 3 in 1 lost manuscript was Kerouac's most complete attempt at the time at writing what was to become The Town and the City his first novel But what I found interesting than The Haunted Life bit was the Other Writings bit which include a handful of The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge, letters written to Jack by his father Leo In Kerouac's books Leo is always portrayed as who he was in real Sigil (Irdesi Empire life a hardworking blue collar guy full passion and bombast But these Death of a Ghost (Albert Campion Mystery, letters show that Jack got at Why Arent They Shouting? least some of his Why I Went Back literary flair from his old man who as it turns out was uite the Horse Sense (Saddle Club, letter writer himself And that new tidbit of information alone makes The Haunted Life and Other Writings a worthwhile read for any Kerouac devotee The Bukowski Point when a popular writer's work has been mined so ruthlessly that Wild Horses (Saddle Club, literally ANYTHING good or bad with hisher name on it will be published Why Dolla dolla bill ya'll

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Impetus for its title Garabed is a leftist idealist and poet with a pronounced tinge of the Byronic Dick is a romantic adventurer whose wanderlust has him poised to leave Galloway for the wider world with or without Peter The Haunted Life also contains a compelling and controversial portrayal of Jack's father Leo Kerouac recast as Joe Martin Opposite of Garabed's progressive New Deal persepctive Joe is a right wing and bigoted populist and an ardent admirer of radio personality Father Charles Coughlin The conflicts of the novella are primarily intellectual then as Peter finds himself suspended between the differing views of history politics and the world embodied by the other three characters and struggles to define what he believes to be intellectually true and worthy of his life and talents The Haunted Life skillfully edited by University of Massachusetts at Lowell Assistant Professor of English Todd F Tietchen is rounded out by sketches notes and reflections Kerouac kept during the novella's composition as well as a revealing selection of correspondence with his father Leo Keroua Any new Kerouac is cause for celebration Reading this unfinished novella from 1944 one meets again the young Jack trying to determine the kind of writer he will be In a diary entry from 090345 indicating that someone had asked him what he was looking for in his writing he records his reply as being a new methodthe vision I do have it's the method I wantthe vision cannot be expressed without the methodThere are some beautiful lyrical passages in this book foreshadowings of what would come later once the method had been discovered when Jack hit upon a new way to go and the visions would be exressed A Haunted Life is a valuable addition to the Kerouac canon giving us a glimpse of the young of course Jack was never destined to be old eager searching Kerouac a hint of the developing power beauty and insight that would emerge in his mature work Young Jack I enjoyed spending time with you again down the long years since your youth and the forty years since I first encountered your work in my own youth

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