Sunday, December 2, 2007

Beatific Soul: Jack Kerouac On the Road at the NY Public Library

On the Road Scroll.jpg

The exhibition's clever (though garish) layout likens the glass-encased first 60 (of 120) feet of the original typewritten scroll of On The Road to the continuity of a line down the center of a street. The manuscript is displayed in various stages of edits, but I hear the novel itself has finally been published uncut.

On the Road Covers.jpg

The real treasures of the show are in letters and photographs: "papers" (as Kerouac would have called them) and personal artifacts. Ginsberg boasting popularity and the overwhelming reception of his poetry in a letter to Burroughs; charts outlining the code names Kerouac implemented in his novels to protect the guilty; scrapbooks that K compiles and then perversely suggests belonged to his mother; elaborate fantasy baseball constructions; laboured faux newspaper spreads; pulp bookbindings from early editions of major beat works; journals opened to pages that pour over the multiple lives of Jack's most beloved cat...and the flashing green neon KEROUAC sign that leads you into the exhibition, delightfully out of place in the ornate oldschool architecture of the public library. Info on the exhibition here.

The Slouch Hat by Jack Kerouac

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