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Born on March 12 1922 the youngest of three children in a French-Canadian family that had established itself in Lowell Massachusetts Jack Kerouac was by the age of ten already aiming to become a writer His father ran a print shop and published a local newsletter called the Spotlight Before long he began writing and producing his own sport sheet which he sold to friends and acquaintances in Lowell He attended both Catholic and public schools and won athletic scholarships to the Horace Mann prep school in New York and then to Columbia University In New York he fell in with fellow literary-icons-to-be Allen Ginsberg the poet and William S Burroughs the novelist A broken leg hobbled his college football career and Kerouac quit Columbia in his sophomore year eventually joining the merchant marine and then Navy from which he was discharged Thus began the restless wandering that would characterize both his legacy and his lifeTo Kerouac Beat a shorthand term for beatitude and the idea that the downtrodden are saintly was not about politics but about spirituality and art The thirty published and unpublished books he wrote from 1941 to 1969 include Kerouacs thirteen-volume more or less autobiographical Legend of Duluoz a study of a particular lifetime his own in the manner of Honore de Balzacs Human Comedy or Marcel Pousts Remembrance of Things PastKerouac set out to become the quintessential literary mythmaker of postwar America creating his Legend of Duluoz by spinning poetic tales about his adventures I promise I shall never give up and that Ill die yelling and laughing Kerouac wrote in his diary in 1949 And that until then Ill rush around this world I insist in holy and pull at everyones lapel and make them confess to me and to all At the time when Norman Mailer was playing sociologist by studying whit Negro hipsters Kerouac sought to depict his fascinatingly inchoate friend Neal Cassady as the modern-day equivalent
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