Glossary entry for
Kerouac, Jack

Jack Kerouac (born: March 12, 1922 - Lowell, Massachusetts; died: October 21, 1969 - St. Petersburg, Florida) was arguably the most important writer of what has become known as the "Beat Generation". Writing in an exuberant and free-flowing style he captured the excitement and holy joy of living outside the boring conservative mainstream of his time: the post-WWII United States.

Kerouac's books were an extremely powerful influence on me as I was growing up, as they were for Van Morrison, all the way across the Atlantic in Ireland. Everyone at "a certain age" - that stage when you're yearning to break free from conformity and set out into the wider world in search of adventure - should read some Kerouac. If you haven't yet: I envy you your first exposure to his books. The three essential titles, in my opinion, are the following (click on the links to be taken to, where you can purchase these if you wish):

  • On the Road - perhaps his most famous book: the Bible of the Beat Generation.
  • The Dharma Bums - Kerouac's first encounters with Buddhism, through his friendship with Gary Snyder (Japhy Ryder in the book), and
  • Desolation Angels - a summer as a fire lookout in the Pacific Northwest, in solitude, followed by parties and adventures in San Francisco, en route (eventually) to Mexico

More information available at:

  • the Wikipedia page on Jack Kerouac
  • Levi Asher's Literary Kicks Web site has extensive information on Jack Kerouac and the other Beat writers, as well as bibliographies, and some on-line samples of their work.

Van references in:

Part of the unofficial website