Are There Any Good Unpublished Kerouac Books Left?

notebooks

With the glut of books that thankfully made our way in the past 20 years or so, we now have (probably) just as many posthumous titles as those Kerouac published in his lifetime. These have added exponentially to our understanding toward what Kerouac achieved in his own right as an American writer. However, there is still much more that can be published. Or, think of them as my Holy Grails.

Here are some:

  • The complete manuscript of The Town and the City with all of its stand-alone prose Kerouac typed for possible use in the novel
  • A collection of Kerouac’s various film-related prose, drawings and movie treatments like “Being a Tathagata” & “Tathagata: A Movie Novel”
  • A collection of Kerouac’s various proto-versions of On the Road (Gone on the Road, Cody Deaver, and many short but compelling fragments of writing)
  • The Collected Letters of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady (edited by Dave Moore again! )
  • Unexpurgated and chronological notebooks/journals in a multi-volume set
  • An exhaustive collection of Kerouac’s early prose arranged in chronological order so as to see and appreciate his development as a writer
  • Kerouac’s “Self-Ultimacy” period documented with such works as Supreme Reality; God’s Daughter; Dialogs in Introspection; The Repertoire of Modern Ideas; The Dark Corridor  and a novella called I Bid You Love Me (replete with self-inflicted blood droplets). Kerouac burned some of this work, but it is important because it documents a shift in Kerouac’s artistic consciousness.
  • A collection of Kerouac’s spiritual texts (Book of Prayers; The Blessedness Surely To Be Believed; Bodhi (Kerouac had typed and edited this book to completion); The Long Night of Life; The Diamond Vow of God’s Wisdom)
  • Any and all of the 50+ diaries Kerouac maintained chiefly from 1956 until shortly before his death in 1969.
  • Various collections of correspondence between his Lowell friends; John Clellon Holmes (over 100 just from Holmes); Carolyn Cassady; Henri Cru and much more miscellanea, such as letters from Esperanza Villanueva (http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/beat/kerouac-tristessa.htmlTristessa), Bea Franco (Terry the “Mexican Girl” in On the Road) and Mary Carney (Maggie Cassidy). I think letters to and from his immediate family is also warranted since his parents are constantly castigated by biographers. There is also a body of letters between JK and his agent, Sterling Lord that could be of significant importance (much like the letters between Maxwell Perkins and Hemingway/Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe).
  • Publishing facsimile notebooks for Visions of Cody and Mexico City Blues or Book of Sketches would be incredible.
  • Prefacing a novel like Maggie Cassidy with its original incarnation as Springtime Mary and his January/February 1953 notebooks (4 total) would be a unique vantage toward understanding how Kerouac  eked out a novel from several notebooks into a typescript.
  • A real collection of all of his poetry
  • Visions of Bill (over 70 holograph pages worth focused on William Burroughs!)
  • Benzedrine Vision written while in Mexico City in 1952 perhaps combined with Book of Daydreams written while staying with Neal & Carolyn Cassady at San Luis Obispo, California in May 1953.
  • The Memory Babe workbook written while living in Northport, Long Island in April 1958 (and its resulting typed scroll of 4 typed pages).
  • The personal notebooks maintained during the 1960s would shed much light on Kerouac’s thoughts, preoccupations and writing during this little understood period of time. One of these notebooks for example is from 1961 and it’s titled “Some Holy Notes Taken Down on Sacred Mushrooms Especially for Timothy Leary” which is about 59 pages long.
  • Tics was typed up from a notebook written on June 28, 1953. It could be compiled with other experimental writings along the lines of the standalone http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/beat/earwitness-testimony-jack-kerouacs-old-angel-midnight.htmlOld Angel Midnight.

These are items off of the top of my head. There are a myriad of possibilities that exist for a writer of this magnitude. Maybe the world will have enough of being bottle-fed On the Road via Hollywood and will be ready now for Kerouac’s more intense and focused visionary writings.

 

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About Paul Maher Jr.

Paul Maher Jr. is the author of Kerouac: His Life and Work (2007), Jack Kerouac's American Journey (2007), and, with Stephanie Nikopoulos, Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. He is editor of Empty Phantoms: Interviews and Encounters with Jack Kerouac (2005). Paul is currently researching a new project for Southern Illinois University Press. You can connect with Paul via his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Comments

  1. per cityCityCITY – I believe it is published as is . . .

  2. Horst Spandler says:

    To specify: What I meant was – since cityCityCITY was originally conceptualized as a novel, is there a chance that there is more in the vaults than what’s been published as a short story?

  3. Horst Spandler says:

    What about Kerouac’s science fiction story “cityCityCITY”?
    http://www.strangehorizons.com/2006/20061204/kerouac-a.shtml

  4. Interesting stuff.

    Also, of special interest to me (if not others), would be his two (incomplete?) works in French, “La Nuit Est Ma Femme” (AKA “Les Travaux de Michel Bretagne” AKA “Les confidences de Michel Bretagne”) and “Ma folle naissance crepusculaire”.

    Also, something which includes some of the things you’ve mentioned, a complete and (emphasis) *unedited* collection of his letters.

    Regards.

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