kerouac magazine

Long Lost Letter That Inspired On the Road Found in Oakland

In December 1950, Jack Kerouac got a letter from his friend Neal Cassady, which recounted a wild weekend in Denver that included climbing out a window to escape the discovery of his affair with a babysitter. According to Kerouac, it was this letter that inspired him to write On the Road in the energetic, disruptive way he did. Also according to Kerouac, this famed epistle had probably been dropped off the side of a houseboat decades ago, never to be held or read ever again.

It turns out Kerouac was, happily, wrong.

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Beatdom Books author John Tytell is quote several times in this article.

The origins of the word ‘beat’ are obscure, but the meaning is only too clear to most Americans. More than weariness, it implies the feeling of having been used, of being raw. It involves a sort of nakedness of mind, and, ultimately, of soul, a feeling of being reduced to a bedrock of consciousness. In short, it means being undramatically pushed up against the wall of oneself. A man is beat whenever he goes for broke and wagers the sum of his resources on a single number; and the young generation has done that continually from their youth.
—  Clellon Holmes in a 1954 article in the New York Times Magazine titled, “This Is the Beat Generation”