Categories: Beat News

Haruki Murakami on Jack Kerouac

From the 2001 novel, Sputnik Sweetheart:

“The first time Sumire met Miu, she talked to her about Jack Kerouac’s novels. Sumire was absolutely nuts about Kerouac. She always had her Literary Idol of the Month, and at that point it happened to be the out-of-fashion Kerouac. She carried a dog-eared copy of On The Road or Lonesome Traveler stuck in her coat pocket, thumbing through it every chance she got. Whenever she ran across lines she liked, she’d mark them in pencil and commit them to memory like they were the Holy Writ. Her favorite lines were from the fire lookout section of Lonesome Traveler. Kerouac spent three lonely months in a cabin on top of a high mountain, working as a fire lookout.

Sumire especially like this part: “No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even border solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.” “Don’t you just love it?” she said. “Every day you stand on top of a mountain, make a three hundred sixty degree sweep, checking to see if there are any fires. And that’s it. You’re done for the day. The rest of the time you can read, write, whatever you want. At night scruffy bears hang around your cabin. That’s the life! Compared with that, studying literature in college is like chomping down on the bitter end of a cucumber.” “OK,” I said, “but someday you’ll have to come down off the mountain.”

As usual, my practical, humdrum opinions didn’t faze her. Sumire want to be like a character in a Kerouac novel, wild, cool, dissolute. She’d stand around, hands shoved deep in her coat pockets, her hair an uncombed mess, staring vacantly at the sky through her black, plastic-frame Dizzy Gillespie glasses, which, she wore despite her twenty-twenty vision. She was invariably decked out in an oversize herring-bone coat from a secondhand store and a pair of rough work boots. (And had, I’m certain) she had been able to grow a beard, she would have.”

David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the founder and editor of Beatdom literary journal and the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs the Weird Cult and World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller. His next book, High White Notes: The Rise and Fall of Gonzo Journalism comes out in November, 2021.

Recent Posts

Review: Fear and Loathing in Aspen

The life and work of Hunter S. Thompson has long appealed to filmmakers, yet no…

5 days ago

Podcast About the Beat Generation

In a recent episode of Wondros, a podcast hosted by Jesse Dylan and Pricilla Cohen,…

2 weeks ago

Review: The Beats, by Steven Belletto

In 2020, Cambridge University Press published The Beats: A Literary History, by Steven Belletto, author…

2 months ago

The Change: Allen Ginsberg, Reborn

This essay was originally published in Beatdom #21. On July 18th, 1963, Allen Ginsberg sat…

2 months ago

Beatdom #22 – The Jack Kerouac Centenary Edition

Every year, we pick a theme for the next installment of Beatdom. In the past,…

3 months ago

The Beats: A Teaching Companion

Clemson University and the Beat Studies Association have been working together on a series of…

3 months ago

This website uses cookies.