Jack Kerouac's American Journey
The Real-Life Odyssey of On the Road
By Paul Maher
(Da Capo Press, Paperback, 9781560259916, 320pp.)
Publication Date: October 2007
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From one of today's top Kerouac scholars comes a riveting, behind-the-scenes look at the true adventures that spawned one of the greatest American novels of all time, as well as the real lives of the key characters of the novelSal Paradise, Dean Moriarty, Carlo Marx, Old Bull Hubbard, Camille, and others. Acclaimed author Paul Maher takes readers on the road with Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady via unprecedented access to Kerouac and Cassady’s correspondence, Ginsberg and Kerouac’s notebooks and journals, as well as a look at the formative experience of Kerouac's philosophical and authorial aesthetic that went into this 20th-century classic.
Exactly fifty years after the September 1957 publication of On the Road comes the most thorough, insightful, and surprising account of the book's genesis.
Paul Maher is the author of Kerouac: The Definitive Biography, and the editor of the critically acclaimed collection Empty Phantoms: Interviews and Encounters with Jack Kerouac. One of today's top Kerouac scholars, Maher graduated from the University of Massachusetts and is completing advanced degrees in the field of English while working as a book critic for the Toronto Star. He served as the editor of the Kerouac Quarterly and has been hailed by historian Douglas Brinkley as "one of the new leaders" of Kerouac scholarship
During the seven years of research Maher undertook to complete Kerouac, he drew from the same ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds as the Beat writer. Having been raised within the Centralville enclave of Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts, during much of his youth, Maher lived a stone's throw from two of Kerouac’s boyhood homes (on Hildreth Street). Armed with his insider’s understanding of Kerouac’s childhood world, Maher then integrated a vigorous and exhaustive search to unlock Kerouac’s private universe utlizing perceptive readings of his writings, scouring Kerouac’s personal letters and reading all of his available journals and notebooks (as well as numerous other unpublished materials stored in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, as well as other various institutions).
Maher is currently researching and writing a biography of Henry David Thoreau, an authorized biography of composer/performer David Amram, and editing a collection of interviews with Miles Davis.
Paul Maher lives in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
“Traces the victories and vicissitudes of Kerouac's peripatetic life during the late 1940's through 1951…Maher knows his subject and creates a compelling narrative, neatly weaving strands of Kerouac's life and work to the greater social and cultural history of the post- WW II era…A good synthesis of a vital period in the life of a writer whose greatness is finally being given due recognition.”