Kerouac Day

I’ve been a big curmudgeon about the 50th birthday of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, an occasion I’d originally planned to ignore completely. But the Guardian Unlimited was nice enough to ask me to contribute a short piece to their week-long celebration of all things Beat (which also includes, so far, John Freeman on the novel’s Chelsea home and Tony O’Neill on Bukowski’s poetry) and I guess it won’t kill me to crack a smile on the day one of my favoritest books ever was born.

A long time ago, back when LitKicks was brand new, I typed in one of my favorite passages from the book, featuring Sal and Dean listening to Slim Gaillard in a jazz club. Note how Kerouac finds melancholy even inside this joyous moment:

Slim Gaillard goes and stands against a post, looking sadly over everybody’s head as people come to talk to him. A bourbon is slipped into his hand. ‘Bourbon-orooni — thank-you-ovauti …’ Nobody knows where Slim Gaillard is.

On The Road became a sensational success, and soon nobody knew where Jack Kerouac was either.

Happy birthday, book.

And please stay tuned for the next installment in our ongoing conversation about literary publishing, coming up later today!

4 Responses

  1. That’s more like it.Now, you
    That’s more like it.

    Now, you need to return Jack’s shirt.

  2. Slim GaillardEveryone should
    Slim Gaillard

    Everyone should check out Slim Gaillard. He did insane jazz songs and invented his own language “reet orooni” etc etc. He has one song that goes “cement mixer, pokey pokey”. He also had a big hit, “The flat flat floogey with the floy floy”

    Dig it orooni, all reet!

    Happy birthday, Jack orooti!

  3. Great PieceI want to say,
    Great Piece

    I want to say, Levi, that the Guardian piece was very well done. Thanks for doing it and pointing it out here.

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Litkicks is 26 years old! This website has been on a long and wonderful journey since 1994. We’re relaunching the whole site on a new platform in June 2021, and will have more updates soon. We’ve also been busy producing a couple of podcasts – please check them out.

World BEYOND War: A New Podcast
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