In my current couple weeks of accidental single-parenting, I'm finding The Dharma Bums to be surprisingly enjoyable and a welcome escape, this reading about younger writers with the time and energy to run screaming down mountains, in this case, Matterhorn. It's good escapism from parenting, and also from my first (and only!) serial-killer novel which I put down fifty pages from the end (something I rarely do, and because I like the author, I will go back and finish).
Old Jack will always be a victim of his fame, and the fact he managed to be popular and hip while somehow getting his name into the mix when folks talk Melville, Faulkner, and the "great American writers." So maybe, like Paul Auster or Raymond Carver, he's not up there at the highest peaks of literature, but there still seems to be something fresh and original in his voice.
I like the way Kerouac can offer the reader vicarious freedom even as he parodies such. For example, after climbing only almost to the top of Matterhorn, he decides upon desert adventures for his "rucksack revolution." So after he purchases and then fills up his rucksack to become a "huge hunchbacked monk," he notes, "I was all outfitted for the Apocalypse indeed, no joke about that; if an atom bomb should have hit San Francisco that night all I'd have to do is hike on out of there, if possible, and with my dried foods all packed tight and my bedroom and kitchen on my head, no trouble in the world" (81). Okay, so he says "no joke," but I'll stick with my hunch that he is enjoying some irony and self-mockery here.
Anyway, via a tweet, I just chanced upon this Russell Banks interview response from The Paris Review (Summer, 1998):
(Back to L.U.S.K.)
What else? There's always the fine literary father angle, and The Paris Review introduces us to Banks as a fellow working on his fourth marriage with four daughters behind him. I just searched online that Kerouac had at least one, and I think only one, marriage and daughter. Separate entanglements, so to speak.
Okay, that's enough to get me excited about more Daddy-daughter time after her daycare ends today.