I loved my MFA program, but I have one major gripe — the literary treatment of Kerouac, the utter disrespect of his style. And I’m not talking about from the teachers; I’m not talking about even the students. Well, maybe a little bit, but it is done with a lot of love and respect. In learning to write, Kerouac is seen as a piranha, a plague set forth on the young by literary Gods. I will smite you if you try to write like Jack Bloody Kerouac! Fifty years later, he’s still criticized because he wrote too damn fast. Jesus, Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in the basement of a library with a coin-operated typewriter….in nine days.
I can still hear someone saying, “But he didn’t use proper grammar.”
“Well screw your proper propaganda and your literary fascism.”
Ah, I know I’m being a bit over the top here, but there used to be a generation of writers who didn’t pretend like they were too cool to talk and argue about our literary forefathers. Maybe I’m preaching to the choir when I say this, or maybe I’m the madman standing on his soapbox — sounds kind of cool actually — but I started to think about Kerouac earlier today, because of a Facebook conversation I had. Let me explain.
In December, “On the Road,” will be released as a feature film. On Facebook, I wrote I was excited. Some people were, and others just couldn’t envision that the movie would be good — a butchery of a classic and cultural changing novel.
Well, all I know — whether the movie is good or bad or whether Kristen Stewart can or can’t make more than one facial expression — is that I can’t wait to see this movie. This post isn’t really going anywhere. I’m kind of just free-flowing, writing as if Kerouac would. Right now, I’m not sure what the next sentence is going to be. But all I hear is the blip-blopping piano chords from Thelonious Monk. What a musician! He was trying to play notes together in a way to approximate the inability of a piano to reach quarter tones. Usually, it was cacophony given a beauty and releasing it free from contemporary melodic understand. Whew!
Ah, the song just ended. It was Blue Monk. When I was working at the rehab center, over a month ago, there was this great musician who cared a ton about the kids. He taught me how to play blue monk. That opening riff was so tough to learn. But I just kept trying to practice it. And I don’t think I have figured out yet. Just thought I would mention this guy. I was happy to have music.
That drive, Long Beach to Woodland Hills, killed me. I was just talking to Heron about this earlier — I was not happy doing that drive. I was miserable. But today, for the first time I can say in an honest way, I’m doing what I love. That’s what I’ve been trying to find. That exact idea. I’m doing what I love. I’m squeaking by. But this is where I want to be.
And, so, that’s how Kerouac influenced this post.