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Quick Lit Bits: "The Haunted Life and Other Writings" by Jack Kerouac

Haunted Life cover
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When it comes to new releases from the Kerouac estate, I'm sorry to say I believe we've reached the Bukowski Point.* Right now, as I glance at my bookshelves, I count over 50 books either by or about Kerouac and I have a hard time believing anything new or interesting has yet to come to light. While Kerouac was a prolific writer, how much more can be mined from this vein? Well, as it turns out there still some more good stuff out there.

"The Haunted Life and Other Writings" is a manuscript that Kerouac famously claimed to have left in a NY cab around 1944. As it turns out, the manuscript was actually left in a closet in a dorm room at Columbia University. At some point it was discovered and remained in a private collection until it was sold in 2002 at Sotheby's for $95K. The lost manuscript was Kerouac's most complete attempt at the time at writing what was to become "The Town and the City," his first novel.

But what I found more interesting than "The Haunted Life" bit was the "Other Writings" bit, primarily because it includes a handful of letters written to Jack by his father, Leo. In Kerouac's books, Leo is always portrayed as who he was in real life: a hardworking, blue collar guy full passion and bombast. And these letters show that Jack got at least some of his literary flair (and passion and bombast) from his old man, who, as it turns out, was quite the letter writer himself. And that new tidbit of information alone makes "The Haunted Life and Other Writings" a worthwhile read for any Kerouac devotee.

* The Bukowski Point: when a popular writer's work has been mined so ruthlessly that literally ANYTHING (good or bad) with his/her name on it will be published. Why? Dolla-dolla bill, ya'll!

About the Author
A Juilliard-trained writer, Kevin Kizer has fought against numerous world-champion writers during his career, besting the reigning middle weight writing champion in an exhibition bout in Helsinki in 1976. He also played a crucial role on the U.S. gold-medal winning writing team during the 1984 Pan-Am games, where he came off the bench in dramatic fashion to write the winning prepositional phrase just as time expired.