Paul Maher Jr has written an intimate, interesting look at the life of Jack Kerouac – not the whole life, but rather the youth, leading up to the publication of his most famous work, On the Road. I Am the Revolutionary begins in the 1700s with some family history, carries us through his childhood, education, and travels, and ends with Jack picking up the newspaper that changed his life – the one containing Gilbert Millstein’s review of On the Road. In short, it is the story of how Jack Kerouac became Jack Kerouac, the author still known today as King of the Beats, whose novels sent millions of kids on the road, and whose voice has inspired poets, novelists, and musicians for more than a half century.
Maher has put together an entertaining and yet informative book. He does not want to be viewed as an academic, and so he has eschewed footnotes. The result is a book that is informative and yet not overly burdened by the extraneous. It is personal and driven by Jack’s own journey through life, without the sort of analytical digressions that may detract from the enjoyment of a more scholarly book, and yet it is thorough enough to satisfy someone who has spent a great many years studying the lives and works of the Beat Generation authors.