And yet another excerpt from On The Road by Jack Kerouac, ©1955:

I brought Lucille and her sister to the biggest party. When Lucille saw me with Dean and Marylou her face darkened– she sensed the madness they put in me.

“I don’t like you when you’re with them.”

“Ah, it’s all right, it’s just for kicks. We only live once. We’re having a good time.

“No, it’s sad and I don’t like it.”

I’ve read this book several times, and obviously the book hasn’t changed so it must be that something in me has.

This time I agree with Lucille.


4 thoughts on “Lucille

  1. I agree with you, Abbie, and I’ve really come to appreciate the odyssey you’ve undertaken through the culture of our times.

    As for your newly awakened take on Kerouac, I think it’s called “growing up”. I know he had a great positive effect on me when I was much younger. His stories helped me identify my place in life as a youthful adventurer. But now it does sound ominous and self destructive, as the section you’ve posted clearly brings out.

    On a kinder note, I still find Kerouac’s prosaic descriptions captivating. On the Road and Dharma Bums were just not his best works. They seem driven, rather than contemplative. Desolation Angels and Lonesome Traveller were more to my taste. And still I have to dig through the verbiage (read: verbal diarrhea) to find the spontaneous flashes of insight that make his writing so interesting.

    If you really want to understand the true Kerouac, his Selected Letters compiled by Ann Charters are an indispensable insight into the process that went into his writing. They are much like van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo. Without them van Gogh’s art probably would have been thrown out as the work of a second rate cartoonist (in my opinion). Because of them they were recognized as the work of a tortured genius.

    So let’s not give up on Kerouac just yet. Let’s take him with a grain of salt, the same as we would any other crazy artist, and allow him his freedom to offend.


  2. Thank you for the guidance- I’ll definitely look up those two books. His style, the rhythm of his words, is very appealing.

    Reading The Beats in general is kind of like panning for gold. There are nuggets in there, but you’re going to throw out a lot of sand looking for them. I bought The Complete Works of Allen Ginsberg at a garage sale one time, but found it was just too much; I needed to find a good editor to whittle down the pile a bit for me.

    It’s kind of like the Grateful Dead. When the improvisations work, you’re happy you sat through all the ones that didn’t quite make it.

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