Title: Signed personal check of Jack Kerouac
Publication Date: 1958
Book Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Personal check written signed on December 24, 1958, Security National Bank, Northport, NY, drawing on the account of Jack and Gabrielle Kerouac. It was made out to "Cash" for $30 and endorsed by "Nunzie's" at 249 Main Street, a popular Northport liquor store on Long Island. Kerouac and his mother had been living at 34 Gilbert Street, the first of their three Northport addresses, since March. This Christmas Eve is a particularly interesting date because, through journals and correspondence, we know exactly what Kerouac was donig that evening -- he was at home with the poet Robert Lax. They were drinking wine (likely paid for with this check!), and reading selections from FINNEGANS WAKE and from Kerouac's manuscript notebooks. Lax, a friend of Thomas Merton, who had become acquainted with Kerouac through his connections at Columbia University, was then the editor of JUBILEE: A MAGAZINE OF THE CHURCH AND HER PEOPLE, which had published some of Kerouac's poetry. In a 1955 letter to Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac had referred to Lax as "one of the great original voices of our times. a Pilgrim in search of beautiful innocence, writing lovingly, finding it, simply, in his own way." Perhaps the most wonderful detail about this particular check, on this particular day in Kerouac's life, is that we also have a published fictional account of that day, complete with a visit to the liquor store, in the short story, BEAT, from T. Coraghessan Boyle's 1994 collection, WITHOUT A HERO AND OTHER STORIES. In Boyle's story, the most ultramontane send-off on the Beats that one could imagine, the narrator, a 17-year-old Beat wannabe, hitchhikes from California and arrives at Kerouac's house in Northport on December 23, 1958, where despite an initial rebuff by Memere, he is soon invited by Jack to stay the weekend. Later that day, a second wannabe shows up, a 16-year-old "gone lovely spring flower" chick "with big ungulate eyes" who has hitched down from Plattsburgh intending to give herself to Jack. Wild boozing ensues and, the next day, our December 24, 1958, the other major Beats arrive, one at a time -- Bill, Neal, Allen. With each arrival, the drinking increases, necessitating "a gone Beat hike to the liquor store, where this check would have been cashed. With Memere in the background, the imagined day ensues until later in the evening, after the "gone lovely spring flower" is rejected by Jack, the two virgin wannabes make love behind the couch in the living room. Finally, at about twelve, as Jack is loudly insisting that someone accompany him to midnight mass, Memere reappears, wildly swinging a poker and screaming, "Get out of my house you queers, convicts, and drug addicts!" The whole entourage then find themselves finally pushed out into the cold at Memere's fierce insistence, with jack helpless to intervene. A superb artifact of the Beat Generation, and one that should always retain its ironic witness to a most unusual combination of literary legend and literary truth. Bookseller Inventory # D3812
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