The first time I read Jack Kerouac, when I was seventeen, I was completely blown away. He had created a whole new way of writing – this spontaneous, stream of consciousness flow of ideas, thoughts and observations written in a mad Bebop flow. I’d never read anything quite like it. It did not seem to have a plot. It just recorded life as it happened. And what a life. It was a life of the underground world, the sex, drugs and Jazz – the antithesis of the suburban life. It described the young kids wild for life, wild for truth, searching for meaning, for Sartori, in among the Jazz cellars of the Black city clubs and out on the road under those big skies. It burned with the passion of youth and its idealism; it’s lust for life.
On The Road created the Beat Generation with its poets like Ginsberg and its writers like Burroughs.
But the Beat Generation was in fact just an incarnation of the fifties. Back in the thirties other writers had done similar things.
Really The Blues – described the life of a white Jazz player who lived the life back in the thirties in the same black clubs. It was full of the same ingredients as Jack Kerouac.
Henry got a reputation as a pornographer but he wasn’t. He was writing about his life in Paris back in the thirties. There was so much more than sex in that book. I remember thinking that one page in Capricorn was the best bit of writing I had ever read.
Henry wrote with that same zest about life. It had that flow and autobiographical honesty.