Magazine article The Spectator

Setting Kerouac on the Road

Magazine article The Spectator

Setting Kerouac on the Road

Article excerpt

The Haunted Life: The Lost Novella by Jack Kerouac, edited by Todd Tietchen

Penguin, £20, pp. 192,

ISBN 9780141394084

Spectator Bookshop, £16

In 1944, when he was 22, Jack Kerouac lost a manuscript - in a taxi, as he thought, but probably in Allen Ginsberg's room at Columbia University - and it stayed lost until 2002, when it was auctioned at Sotheby's. Now it has been published, all 70 pages of it, together with some youthful sketches and some letters between Kerouac and his father, in an edition by a professor at Lowell, Massachusetts, Kerouac's home town.

The Haunted Life is billed as a novella, but turns out to be the first part - 'Home' - of a projected novel, to be completed by 'War' and 'Change'. Set in 1941, it is a coming-of-age story.

Like Kerouac, the story's hero Peter Martin is of French ancestry and has grown up in a Massachusetts town ('Galloway') to become a college athlete of literary inclination. …

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