The Paradise Diner

1. Michael Stutz recently shared his theory that a diner in Jack Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts might have been the inspiration for the name of Sal Paradise, the On The Road narrator. In a follow-up conversation, Michael told me more about the Paradise Diner: it opened in 1937 (when Jack was 15 years old) and can be found on Google Maps here.

2. The poet Adrienne Rich has died. Jamelah Earle has written about this.

3. My younger daughter compelled me to read Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games last year, and we were both fairly blown away by the movie (as was Benoit Lelievre and many, many others). The Atlantic has published a good list of the story’s mythological and pop-culture sources. (I’m only surprised this article doesn’t mention Gone With The Wind, since Katniss’s richly layered love triangle with Peeta and Gale strikes me as a clear echo of Scarlett O’Hara’s tortuous confusion over Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes).


4. “What happens when a downtown New York poet of the hip hop and slam persuasion discovers that the roots of spoken word go back thousands of years and span the globe?” A linguistic spirit journey by good ol’ Bob Holman.

5. Sick of books called The _____’s Daughter? So am I, and so is Emily St. John Mandel.

6. Thomas de Wall explores how the great literature of 19th Century Russia can help us understand 21st Century post-Soviet politics. (Example: Ukraine as Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard).

7. “The Coffin Factory” is a damn good name for a new literary magazine publishing folks like Justin Taylor, Aimee Binder, Roberto Bolano and Pablo Medina.

8. Nicely done: if you live in London or New York City, you can select a short story to match your commute time. I hope they padded the time estimates for the occasional staring off into space that is a requisite part of commuter reading.

9. Beautiful! letterheads of the greats, from Noel Coward to Charles M. Schulz to Sigmund Freud.

10. Hamlet, diagrammed.

11. A database of metaphors.

12. Sensitive Skin, a long-running magazine from New York City’s Lower East Side.

13. Screenshots of Despair.

14. New letters published by the John F. Kennedy Library show how much Ernest Hemingway loved his cat. Still unclear how much he liked people.

15, Jimmy Chen on tone — literary, that is.

16. Steve Martin has published a book of tweets, The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten.: The Tweets of Steve Martin.

17. Here are some of expressionist painter Carl Kohler’s images of a few favorite writers, from Charles Bukowski to Antonin Artaud to Joyce Carol Oates to Samuel Beckett.

7 Responses

  1. Thanks for the link,
    Thanks for the link, Levi.

    I’ve read the first book and wasn’t looking forward to the movie, but they did a tremendous adaptation job. The Collins book spent a lot of energy depicting the teenage feelings as the movie almost leaves them all aside. They even integrate the love story as a part of the Games (I know the book did, but the movie does a better job at making it seem fake).

    It’s a rare case of a movie adaptation that has its priorities straight

  2. I want to go to the Paradise
    I want to go to the Paradise Diner in Lowell now. Anyone want to meet up?

    On this topic, Stutz’ speculation sounds interesting.

    The usual idea put forth for Sal Paradise is that it was a variation on “sad paradise” which was a term from an early Ginsberg or Kerouac poem.

  3. That’s interesting about
    That’s interesting about Sal’s name. I’ve always wondered about it, not because of the Paradise aspect, but because of the “Sal” part. In On the Road, JK’s alter ego is Italian American while in his other books (except when he’s Ray Smith) he’s French-Canadian. I’ve always been puzzled as to why he chose to change his ethnicity in On the Road (which he even started writing in French Canadian). It’s not like Italian American is any more mainstream, at least not in 1957.

  4. Sounds plausible.
    Sounds plausible. Incidentally, a visit to Lowell should be mandatory for all Kerouac readers. It helps put everything in perspective.

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