by Jack Kerouac
I once had a music blog and a few years ago I reviewed One Fast Move Or I'm Gone, an album by Son Volt's Jay Farrar and Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, built around the words of Jack Kerouac's Big Sur. I panned the album at the time, but came to love the poetry of the lyrics and the moroseness of the music. Since that review, I moved to the Bay Area (and back), visited the City Lights bookstore and the Beat Museum, and traveled to Big Sur. It was strange reading the novel and having lines like "I'm just a sick clown and so is everybody else" or "I am going to die in full despair - Wake up where? On second breath in life the atmosphere is dearer maybe closer to Heaven" and have a melody spring into my head reflexively. It enhancement my enjoyment of the novel and forced me to pay closer attention to the prose than I do normally.
Kerouac's accounts of his drinking binges are tough to read in light of his alcohol-related death prior to the age of 50. He does not glorify his alcoholism, describing how the physical ills of a hangover are intertwined with a spiritual despair. In this light, his life's end was truly sad.