Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wha, Kerouac wrote a crime novel? The war over his estate and six facts about him

Apparently Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs wrote a hard-boiled, pre-Beat murder mystery called "And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks." Amazingly enough, they alternated writing chapters and not surprisingly, the results were mixed. It seemed that had more to do with Jack being young at the time (twenty-three) and lacking life experience.

The purple link above and this purple link right here lead to the SF Gate (the SF Chronicle's site). The second link has an article concerning the war over Kerouac's estate which has lasted longer than any war that America has fought. It also has these six Jack facts-

1. Kerouac believed that his older brother Gerard, who died of rheumatic fever at age 10, was an actual saint, and in later life he often felt that Gerard was speaking directly to him from heaven.

2. Kerouac had the highest IQ in the history of Newport Naval Base at the time he was stationed there (1942), and because of it he was suspected of being a German spy. He was later discharged from the Navy for "angel tendencies," an early term for schizophrenia.

3. While docked in Greenland in the Merchant Marine, Kerouac traded his Horace Mann football sweater to an Eskimo for the Eskimo's handmade harpoon, which he saved all his life.

4. Later during World War II, Kerouac served on the S.S. Dorchester, on the voyage before it was sunk by German torpedoes with the loss of about 800 lives, including the famed Four Chaplains who gave their life jackets to others, as well as Kerouac's close friend, a black cook called Old Glory. Kerouac's life was saved by a telegram from Coach Lou Little calling him back to Columbia University to play football just before the Dorchester sailed again.

5. Kerouac loved to listen to, and would often scat-sing along with, Gregorian chants, which he called a "jazz Mass."

6. Contrary to the belief of '60s radicals like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, who thought him a hopeless redneck, Kerouac actually opposed the Vietnam War. But his reason for opposing it was unique - he claimed it was "a conspiracy between the North and South Vietnamese to get American jeeps."


Bubs said...

This is cool stuff. I've been reading lately about the 50th anniversary of Naked Lunch, so this is another beat coincidence this week.

Cormac Brown said...


It's no coincidence, the Beat Generation might be the last collective literay movement for some time to come and just like other historic things of the mid-20th Century, everyone involved is telling their part before their final departure.