Racing into the Sunset (Jack Kerouac and Neil Cassady)
Materials Cast glass, sandblasted glass, bronze, wood
Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1922 to parents who were both French Canadian. He spoke French exclusively until he was six years old when began to attend Catholic school. A high school football star he won an athletic scholarship to Columbia University where he met Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. He dropped out after one year after an argument with the football coach and became a merchant seaman all through World War 11 with the idea of becoming a traveler and novelist in the tradition of Jack London and Thomas Wolfe.
After his stint in the Merchant Marine he settled in New York and began his first novel, “The Town and the City”, which took about two years. His father died in 1946 and Jack lived with his mother, Gabrielle, to whom he was extremely devoted. He referred to her as Mémêre and she continued her work in a factory in order to support him while he was writing. During this time, he met a young would-be writer from Denver, Neal Cassady, who was to become the model for Dean Moriarty partner to Kerouac’s Sal Paradise in “On the Road”.
The adventure that turned into the novel began with a cross-country hitchhiking trip by Kerouac in 1947 to meet up with Neal Cassady in Denver, and continued with several more trips with Neal, culminating with a trip to Mexico City in 1950. The book was started in early April 1951 and Jack got the idea that by typing nonstop he would get the momentum he was seeking. He spliced together rolls of tracing paper trimmed to the width of his typewriter and by April 27 the book was finished, a roll of paper, typed as a single paragraph 120 feet long.
On the Road” became the novel that defined the “beat generation”.