Today celebrates the birthday of one my favorite authors of all time: Jack Kerouac. Kerouac was born in Lowell, Mass. to a French-Canadian family in 1922. His given name was Jean-Louis, though his family usually called him Ti Jean – Little John. Strangely, that’s how I always think of him, Ti Jean, though we are not family.
His writing, though, brings me into his life in a way that breeds that level of familiarity. I feel as though I’m with him in these subterranean jazz clubs, bopping along with the band, the boys, the girls. I feel wind-hardened and desolate atop a mountain in Washington through a long winter. I feel the joy of zipping across the nation, thumbing rides, accepting everyone and digging the scene.
In many, many ways, Kerouac is the most honest writer I’ve ever read. His honesty has helped me to understand some of my own choices in life, some of my own inclinations and predilections. His books and his words always help me to feel less lonely even during times when I don’t feel lonely at all.
I haven’t read all of his books yet. On purpose. I’m saving them so that, throughout my life, I can jump in and discover something new about him. So while Kerouac may have passed away many years ago, to me his is still very much alive. And will be for a very long time.