"On the road with Kerouac/Sheltered in his Bivouac": The Beat Gets Uncensored

"After 1957 On the Road sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines, and also sent countless kids on the road...the alienation, the restlessness, the dissatisfaction were already there waiting when Kerouac pointed out the road."   --William Burroughs

 "I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was -- I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds."

"What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? -- it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies."

David Perry reports in The Lowell Sun that Jack Kerouac's On the Road will be republished by the end of 2007 in, get this, its "original, scroll version." Wait a sec -- the rambling druggy tirade that we really loved but (and we hope we're not alone here) secretly skimmed through several chunks of because we were more flummoxed by the order of Sal's travels than we were trying to figure out the color symbolism in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man -- that was the edited version? Oh. Hah.

The Lowell-born beatnik left his literary estate in care of John Sampas, who just signed a contract with Viking/Penguin. "'Incidents in the original were edited out of the published version because of the censorship of the time,' says Sampas, who said that at least portions of the edited sections refer to drugs and sex."

Sampas assures Kerouac-heads that the story about On the Road being written in a magical 21-day burst is true. However, the author was a careful note-taker. He spent five years drafting the book, and two mansucripts went through heavy edits before the book was published in 1957.

So who is going to lovingly put the misadventures in On the Road back together again? Sampas has enlisted "a group of four young Kerouac scholars well-studied in British and American literature to help edit the project." Before these fresh-faced whippersnappers schooled in the Beats and beret-wearing buckle down, they're going to take 20 Jägerbombs with Red Bull and flip a candy roll. Because that's what you do when you're serious about your job.

* The original Kerouac scroll will be on display at the Boot Cottom Mills Museum in the Lowell National Historical Park next June
* Annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! Festival: October 6-9
* The Beat Page
* Listen to rare tapes of Kerouac and Neal Cassidy, via NPR's Morning Edition
* The Tao of Hitchiking
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