Jack Kerouac, the man whose 1957 breakout novel On The Road helped popularize the "Beat Generation" literary movement of the 50s and 60s, was born this day, March 12th (as Jean Louis Kerouac), 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts. The impact of Kerouac's work, from his spontaneous style of writing, his emphasis on lost youth and romance, spirituality, drug use and jazz, and the need to be free from society's rules, still reonate with readers after all these years. In Kerouac's prose, we discover, in various ways, an overwhelming need to express ourselves and not be limited by society's boundaries.
Despite his tragic death at the age of 47 in 1969, Kerouac, through his body of work, still influences audiences, writers and artists even today. All of his books reach us in one way or another. Of course we perceive the need to be free from it all in the aforementioned On The Road. But there's also the search for spiritual stability in The Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels, the loss of a sibling in Visions of Gerald, and the seach for true love and acceptance (or a variation thereof) in The Subterraneans and Maggie Cassidy. And one of my own favorite Kerouac novels, Doctor Sax, is based on the author's love of pulp fiction and radio dramas, and how they can help shape a young boy's imagination, despite the presence of brutal reality, manifested in the form of the "Great World Snake".
Through the undisiplined, stream of conciousness-like writing technique that he used as his voice, Kerouac can still touch our hearts even after fifty-odd years. Happy 90th Birthday Mr. Kerouac!