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COOL PEOPLE – Ernest Hemingway Trivia

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Ernest Hemingway Trivia


“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bars: Ritz, Paris; Harry’s Bar, Venice; Costello’s, New York; Sloppy Joe’s, Key West; and La Floridita, Cuba.

“The whiskey warmed his tongue and the back of his throat, but it did not change his ideas any, and suddenly, looking at himself in the mirror behind the bar, he knew that drinking was never going to do any good to him now. Whatever he had now he had, and it was from now on, and if he drank himself unconscious when he woke up it would be there.” —To Have and Have Not, 1937

Ernest Hemingway once dubbed Key West, Florida, the “St. Tropez of the poor.”

COOL PEOPLE – Henry Miller

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Henry Miller

[1891 - 1980]

Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York

Higher Education: 2 months at New York City College (according to one biographer, Miller became “disillusioned after an encounter with Spenser’sFaerie Queene“)

On Education: “[G]oing to school so many hours a day, learning all that nonsense, is what I call utter garbage. The only part of education I approve of is kindergarten. The rest cripples you, makes an idiot of you. I know this sounds crazy, but I believe that we’re all born creative. We all have the same creative instincts. Most of us are killed off as artists, as creative people, by our schooling.”

Work Experience: Bellhop, garbage collector, cement mixer, gravedigger, employment manager at Western Union, employee at Park Department in Queens, manager of New York City speakeasy, starving artist, proofreader on the Paris edition of The Chicago Tribune

Family and Relationships: Married 5 times (Beatrice Sylvas Wickens, June Edith Smith Mansfield, Janina Martha Lepska, Eve McClure, Hiroko Tokuda); 2 daughters and a son; also had well-documented affair with writer Anais Nin

Favorite Authors: Celine (Journey to the End of the Night), Blaise Cendrars, Joseph Conrad, Dostoevsky, Theodore Dreiser, Elie Faure, Rider Haggard, Knut Hamsun (Hunger), Hermann Hesse (Siddhartha), Jack London, Nietzsche, Marcel Proust (Remembrance of Things Past), Isaac Bashevis Singer, Oswald Spengler, Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)

Other Literary Influences: Taoistic writing, Oriental philosophy

On Ernest Hemingway: “Hemingway in my mind was not the great writer they make him out to be. He was a craftsman. But he wasn’t a craftsman as good as Somerset Maugham. There was a real craftsman. But if you are a craftsman you go on turning it out. It gets thinner and thinner . . . as much as I put him down, that first book, The Sun Also Rises, had a lot to do with my going to France; it inspired me to go.”

On George Orwell: “He was like so many English people, an idealist, and, it seemed to me, a foolish idealist. A man of principle, as we say. Men of principle bore me . . . I regard politics as a thoroughly foul, rotten world. We get nowhere through politics. It debases everything.”

On Jack Kerouac: “I have been fascinated by Kerouac, I must say. Very uneven writer, perhaps and I don’t think he has yet show his full possibilities, Kerouac . . . But he has a great gift, this great verbal gift like Thomas Wolfe had, you know, and a few others. Tremendous gift I think, but to me rather undisciplined, uncontrolled and so on, but I am fascinated by one book of his called The Dharma Bums.”

On William S. Burroughs: “Burroughs, whom I recognize as a man of talent, great talent, can turn my stomach. It strikes me, however, that he’s faithful to the Emersonian idea of autobiography, that he’s concerned with putting down only what he has experienced and felt. He’s a literary man whose style is unliterary.”

Tenure in Paris: 1930-1940

First Published Novel: Tropic of Cancer ( “[T]he Paris book: first person, uncensored, formless – fuck everything!”)

Age When Tropic of Cancer First Published: 43

Publisher: Grove Press

Year in Which Tropic of Cancer Finally Published in the United States: 1961 (U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled book was not obscene)

Last Lines, Tropic of Cancer: “Human beings make a strange fauna and flora. From a distance they appear negligible; close up they are apt to appear ugly and malicious. More than anything they need to be surrounded with sufficient space – space even more than time. The sun is setting. I feel this river flowing through me – its past, its ancient soil, the changing climate. The hills gently girdle it about: its course is fixed.”

Anais Nin on Tropic of Cancer: “This book brings with it a wind that blows down the dead and hollow trees whose roots are withered and lost in the barren soil of our times. This book goes to the roots and digs under, digs for subterranean springs.”

Ezra Pound on Tropic of Cancer: “At last, an unprintable book that’s readable.” [Another critic once described Miller’s entire body of work as "toilet-wall scribbling."]

Origin of Tropic Titles: Miller’s pet names for June’s breasts – Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn

Selected Works: Tropic of Cancer (1934), Black Spring (1936), Tropic of Capricorn (1939), The Colossus of Maroussi (1941), The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945), Sexus (1949), The Books in My Life (1952), Plexus (1953), Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch (1957), Nexus(1960), Under the Roofs of Paris (1983) [Note: Sexus, Plexus and Nexus make up trilogy called The Rosy Crucifixion]

Favorite of His Own Books: The Colossus of Maroussi

Sample Sex Scene from Under the Roofs of Paris: “She has a bush as big as my hand and as soft as feathers. She lifts her dress in the front, takes my dong out and rubs John Thursday’s nose against her whiskers . . . will I pinch her breasts, she moans, and would I be offended if she asked me to kiss them, perhaps to bite? She’s catting for a fuck, that she’s been paid to come here has nothing to do with it now . . . she’d probably give the money back and something extra besides just to get a cock into that itch under her tail now . . . “

Awards and Honors: Elected to National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1957; French Legion of Honor, 1974

On His Readers: “I would say that perhaps less than 10 percent of my readers are the only ones I’m interested in having read me. The others are worthless. My books don’t do them any good or me any good. You see, I believe that over 90 percent of everything that is done in the realm of music, drama, painting, literature – any of the arts – is worthless.”

On His Critics: “Critics are just people, after all. They criticize, because you didn’t write the kind of book they wanted . . . I don’t write for the critics. I write for myself and the reader, whoever he or she may be.”

Favorite Films: Bunuel’s L’Age d’Or, Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, Five Easy Pieces

Least Favorite Film: Bonnie and Clyde! Did I hate that! I was clapping to myself when they machine-gunned them to death at the end. Dynamite them! Blow them to smithereens! It was so vulgar, that film. I love obscenity but I hate vulgarity. I can’t see how people can enjoy killing for fun. Also, there was a perverse streak there. There was a suggestion that the hero was impotent. I don’t like that. I like healthy sex. I don’t like impotence and perversion.”

Hobbies: Writing, painting, astrology, eating, roaming the streets of Paris, playing Ping-Pong ["I keep the Ping-Pong table handy for people I don’t want to talk to. You know, it’s simple. I just play Ping-Pong with them."]

On American Artists: “I feel that America is essentially against the artist, that the enemy of America is the artist, because he stands for individuality and creativeness, and that’s unAmerican somehow. I think that of all countries – we have to overlook the communist countries of course – America is the most mechanized, robotized, of all.”

On Christianity: “The Christian Church in all its freakish ramifications and efflorescences is as dead as a doornail; it will pass away utterly when the political and social systems in which it is now embedded collapse. The new religion will be based on deeds, not beliefs.”

On the Civil War: “At Gettysburg, at Bull Run, at Manassas, at Fredericksburg, at Spottsylvania Court House, at Missionary Ridge, at Vicksburg I tried to visualize the terrible death struggle in which this great republic was locked for four long years. I have stood on many battlefields in various parts of the world but when I stand beside the graves of the dead in our own South the horror of war assails me with desolating poignancy. I see no results of this great conflict which justify the tremendous sacrifice which we as a nation were called upon to make. I see only an enormous waste of life and property, the vindication of right by might, and the substitution of one form of injustice for another. The South is still an open, gaping wound.”

On Civilization: “For 72 years I’ve been waiting to see some breakdown of the artificial barriers surrounding our educational system, our national borders, our homes, our inner being – a shattering of the wretched molds in which we’ve lived – but it never happens. We have the dynamic but we don’t set it off. I get sick of waiting.”

On Hippies: “Always, in the past, as soon as they become adults they join the Establishment. They become conservatives. The radical always becomes a great conservative. And the revolutionary becomes a tyrant, just like the one he overthrew.”

On Obscenity: “I feel I have simply restored sex to its rightful place in literature, rescued the basic life factor from literary oblivion, as it were. Obscenity, like sex, has its natural, rightful place in literature as it does in life, and it will never be obliterated, no matter what laws are passed to smother it.”

On Politicians: “One has to be a lowbrow, a bit of a murderer, to be a politician, ready and willing to see people sacrificed, slaughtered, for the sake of an idea, whether a good one or a bad one.”

On Politics: “Don’t ask me about politics. I’m against war. And I never voted in my life. But I’ll tell you one thing – I’m living with this hope: that the youngsters will get rid of all the old birds and wiseacres. In this country the ordinary man, you know, is dead inside before he’s 40. It’s not his fault. It’s the fault of mechanized things. There’s a lack of individuality. Everything is made for comfort and ease.”

On Joyce’s Ulysses: “There are passages of Ulysses which can be read only in the toilet – if one wants to extract the full flavor of their content. And this is not to denigrate the talent of the author. This is simply to move him a little closer to the good company of Abelard, Petrarch, Rabelais, Boccaccio – all the fine, lusty genuine spirits who recognized dung for dung and angels for angels.”

Henry Miller on Film: The Henry Miller Odyssey (full-length documentary with insights from Miller’s friends Lawrence Durrell, Anais Nin, Alfred Perles, Brassai, Lawrence Clark Powell, Joe Gray and Jakob Gimpel); Henry and June (notable as the first NC17 film, based on Nin’s famous diaries)

Place of Death: Big Sur, California

Final Resting Place: Ashes scattered off coast of Big Sur

CODA“It’s a distortion. Henry, Look at me! Look! You can’t see me or anyone as they are! I wanted Dostoyevsky!”
Henry & June, 1990

TROPIC OF CANCER TRIVIA
• 
Miller was 43 years old when Tropic of Cancer was first published in 1934 by Obelisk Press in Paris.
• Tropic of Cancer was finally published in the United States in 1964 after the Supreme Court ruled the book as not being obscene (Grove Press, Inc. vs. Gerstein).
• Ezra Pound on Tropic of Cancer: “At last, an unprintable book that’s readable.”
• Miller’s pet names for his second wife June’s breasts: Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
• George Orwell called Tropic of Cancer “the most important book of the mid-1930s.”
• Samuel Beckett referred to Tropic of Cancer as “a momentous event in the history of modern writing.”

COOL PEOPLE – JOHN STEINBECK AND CANNERY ROW

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CHAPTER 1 CANNERY ROW

John Steinbeck is one of the best-known and most revered American literary figures. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Grapes of Wrath (1939), highlighting the lives of migrant farm workers in the Salinas Valley, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. Seventeen of his works, including Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1955), were made into Hollywood movies.

Best Of Cannery Row

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Monterey County Beginnings

Steinbeck was born about 30 miles from Cannery Row in Salinas, California, on February 27, 1902. He graduated from Salinas High School in 1919 and attended Stanford University, about 90 miles north of the Monterey Peninsula. He married his first wife, Carol Henning, in 1930. They lived in Pacific Grove next to Cannery Row, where much of the material for his books was gathered.

Cannery Row Characters

Steinbeck’s strong personal attachment to Monterey was perhaps inevitable. Living in Pacific Grove, in a house owned by his father, Steinbeck wrote stories spiced with the vibrant tales of cannery workers and roughnecks he knew.

Cannery Row ignited Steinbeck’s imagination and his affection for the colorful mix of people there influenced a number of stories and characters. Tortilla Flat (1935) received the California Commonwealth Club’s Gold Medal for best novel by a California author and marked a turning point in Steinbeck’s career.

Cannery Row (1945), one of Steinbeck’s best and most widely read fictional works, immortalized Cannery Row as a one-of-a-kind neighborhood of fish packing plants, bordellos, and flophouses, and made it the most famous street in America. Sweet Thursday, the sequel to Cannery Row, was published in 1954.

Steinbeck & Ed Ricketts

In 1930 Steinbeck met Ed Ricketts, an accomplished marine biologist who operated the Pacific Biological Laboratory at 800 Cannery Row. Ricketts was the inspiration for the character ‘Doc’ in Cannery Row, although he wasn’t called Doc in real life. Ricketts brought Steinbeck along on his outdoor adventures studying the biological mysteries of the “Great Tidal Pool” near Asilomar Beach, and on a voyage to the Sea of Cortez.

In 1948 Ed Ricketts was hit by a train after his Buick stalled on the tracks near Cannery Row. Today, the location of the train accident is memorialized with a bust of Ricketts at the street corner adjacent to the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa.

Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968, in New York City. His ashes were placed in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Salinas.

For more information about John Steinbeck’s life and work, visit the National Steinbeck Center.

FROM CANNERY ROW (1982) – FORGOTTEN TREASURE

 Uploaded on May 5, 2010

Hunter S. Thompson -complete

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Erowid Character Vaults
Hunter S. Thompson
Summary
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Hunter S. Thompson is considered the father of “Gonzo journalism”, a style of reporting conveyed via a first-person narrative characterized by its lack of neutrality, often due to the reporter’s first-hand involvement in the topic being covered to such a degree that the reporter becomes a newsworthy part of the story. Thompson became famous for this irreverent “literary” approach toward journalism, blending fact, fiction, and subjective accounts in an attempt–he claimed–to uncover and illuminate deeper truths that couldn’t be reached through a neutral, objective viewpoint. Within his writing, Thompson could often be found strongly expressing his political and social criticisms, as well as describing his unabashed, liberal consumption of recreational drugs.A troubled youth, following an arrest for robbery in 1956, Thompson enlisted in the Air Force to fulfill part of his sentencing agreement. While at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, he kicked off his profession as a writer by working as a sports reporter. Thompson’s writing began to gain attention after he was hired to produce a magazine article based on his experience of having spent a year with the Hells Angels. “The Motorcycle Gang” appeared on May 17, 1956 in The Nation, and a more subjective treatment of the same topic followed in 1967, when Random House published his book, Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.

Thompson is most well-known for his 1971 book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, which has appeared in at least 40 editions and 16 different languages. Over the course of his career, Thompson wrote over a dozen other books and contributed articles to numerous periodicals, including EsquireThe National ObserverPlayboyRolling StoneThe San Francisco Examiner, and Time Magazine, as well as penning the “Hey Rube” web column for ESPN.

Along with being an avid gun enthusiast, Thompson also had a great love of photography. A posthumous oral history produced in honor of Thompson, featuring many of his photographs, as well as portraits of him taken by others, along with an introduction by his friend Johnny Depp, was published in 2007. Depp played the lead role of Raoul Duke (a character based on Thompson) in director Terry Gilliam’s 1998 film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

At the age of 67–likely in response to his unhappiness about aging, along with chronic pain from a broken leg and hip replacement–Thompson committed suicide with a gun shot to the head in his Colorado home.

Quote #
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone…but they’ve always worked for me.”
– Hunter Thompson, “Voices : Footnotes”, LIFE Magazine, p. 68 (Jan 1981)
Author of Books #
  • Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writings of Hunter S. Thompson (2011)
  • The Mutineer: Rants, Ravings, and Missives from the Mountaintop 1977-2005 (2008)
  • Gonzo (2006/2007)
  • Happy Birthday, Jack Nicholson (2005)
  • Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness Modern History from the Sports Desk (2004)
  • Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century (2003)
  • Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist 1968-1976 (2000)
  • Screw-Jack (2000)
  • The Rum Diary (1998)
  • The Fear and Loathing Letters, Vol. 1: The Proud Highway: The Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman 1955-1967 (1997)
  • Mistah Leary–He Dead (1996)
  • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 4: Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie (1994)
  • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 3: Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream (1990)
  • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s (1988)
  • The Curse of Lono (1983)
  • Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979)
  • Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973)
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971)
  • Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1967)
Author of Articles #
Interviews #
Remembrances

Salvaging Steinbeck’s Vessel From a Little-Known Berth

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Salvaging Steinbeck’s Vessel From a Little-Known Berth

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The Western Flyer in Port Townsend, Wash. The boat’s owner plans to move it to Salinas, Calif., but a nonprofit group wants it in Monterey Bay. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times
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PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. — A wooden fishing boat that John Steinbeck chartered in 1940 with a biologist friend, then wrote about in a story of their journey through the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, sits in sad, decaying splendor in a boatyard here, two hours northwest of Seattle.

People have come from as far away as Liverpool, England, to see the vessel, named the Western Flyer, in the eight months since it arrived. There is no exhibit, no effort to market the ship as an attraction, or even point the way so people can easily find it, blocked and braced out of the water at the back of the yard. Mud covers the portholes from its two sinkings and resurrections. The brass doorknobs are corroded to green, and the upper rail buckles inward with rot and age.

“We get a couple of people a week, and we give them directions — it’s pretty low key,” said Anna Quinn, an owner of Imprint Bookstore, a downtown shop that sells a few copies a week of the book that resulted from Steinbeck’s trip, “The Log From the Sea of Cortez.”

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John Steinbeck featured the wooden fishing boat in “The Log From the Sea of Cortez,” sold in Port Townsend at Imprint Bookstore. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

“They just want to see and touch it and be in the literary aura,” Ms. Quinn said.

A final chapter for the Western Flyer may be about to unfold. And there are fierce disagreements about how — and where — its tale of fleeting celebrity and ignominious decay should end.

The boat’s owner, Gerry Kehoe, a California businessman, said he planned to collect his property within the next couple of months. The 76-foot-long vessel, he said, will be cut into two or three pieces and trucked to Salinas, Calif., where Steinbeck was born, then reassembled and installed as the centerpiece — with real water and a dock — in the lobby of a boutique hotel Mr. Kehoe is developing.

The hotel, with two restaurants surrounding the boat and glass panels telling the story of the voyage, will open in the summer of 2015 with Western Flyer in the name, he said in a telephone interview.

The nephew of the Western Flyer’s skipper in 1940 has been ferociously critical of Mr. Kehoe’s plan. He says the boat belongs in Monterey, where it worked in Steinbeck’s day as a sardine fisher, and deserves better in retirement.

“He talks a good game, but he really doesn’t know what he’s doing — he doesn’t have a clue,” said Robert Enea, whose uncle, Tony Berry, piloted the voyage by Steinbeck and the biologist, E. F. Ricketts.

Mr. Enea, a retired physical education teacher, led a nonprofit group called the Western Flyer Project that he said had raised $10,000 and was trying to buy the boat in 2010 for $45,000 when Mr. Kehoe got it instead. The group, Mr. Enea said, envisioned a mission of environmental education in Monterey Bay, echoing and honoring the Cortez trip.

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Peter and Anna Quinn, owners of Imprint Bookstore. “We get a couple of people a week, and we give them directions — it’s pretty low key,” Ms. Quinn said of visitors seeking the boat. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

Mr. Kehoe said the Flyer Project lacked resources to save or restore anything — not least a boat built in 1937 that would take “well into the seven figures” to be made seaworthy. And, he added, striking a note that Steinbeck himself might have savored as a champion of the underdog, the economically struggling town Salinas simply deserves the Western Flyer more than wealthy, flourishing Monterey.

“Does everybody want the rich to be richer?” Mr. Kehoe said, adding that access to the boat will be free. Salinas, he said, “doesn’t have a lot going for it, to be honest with you, but it is the birthplace of the great man.”

Literary tourism is a big business, in the bits of a writer’s life that get left around in the messy business of living, or the characters that came to life on the page. From Key West, Fla.,visitors can swill rum in honor of Hemingway, to Dickens World, a theme park in England that offers a re-creation of bleak and stinky Victorian London, writers are still earning their keep.

Here on Washington’s rainy Olympic Peninsula, setting of the hugely successful teen-vampire-romance “Twilight” novels by Stephenie Meyer, Steinbeck is small potatoes anyway. In Forks, which the heroine, Bella Swan, called home and is two hours west of Port Townsend, visitors can stay in one of the Twilight Rooms at the Pacific Inn Motel, or eat a Bella’s Barbecue Burger Dip at the Forks Coffee Shop.

Some who have come to see the Western Flyer pay homage to science. The six-week, 4,000-mile research trip in 1940 to study plants and animals formed a template for thinking and writing about ecology decades before the modern environmental movement, said Ian Hinkle, a Canadian filmmaker who came to shoot in January for a documentary on the Salish Sea called “Reaching Blue.”

“That boat was the inspiration for many ocean researchers and ecologists today,” he said. “Now it’s sitting in a boatyard, just sitting there, one more big old rotting piece of broken dreams.”

But perhaps for at least part of the summer tourism season in Port Townsend that began this weekend, the Western Flyer is going nowhere. Ms. Quinn, who owns Imprint Books with her husband, Peter, said they were hoping to do some Steinbeck readings this summer, with people gathering at the boatyard.

Steinbeck himself, in “The Log From the Sea of Cortez,” said he believed the bond of boats and people ran too deep to sever. “It is very easy to see why the Viking wished his body to sail away in an unmanned ship, for neither could exist without the other,” he wrote.

THE HAUNTED LIFE:THE LOST NOVELLA’ BY JACK KEROUAC

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THE HAUNTED LIFE:THE LOST NOVELLA’ BY JACK KEROUAC

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‘The Haunted Life: The Lost Novella’, by Jack Kerouac

From left, Hal Chase, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs in Manhattan, c1944-45©Corbis

From left, Hal Chase, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs in Manhattan, c1944-45

The Haunted Life: The Lost Novella, by Jack Kerouac, Penguin Classics, RRP£20, 208 pages

Jack Kerouac, an author who was barely patient enough to punctuate his sentences, never mind sit still in one place, always claimed that he had lost the manuscript to his early novella The Haunted Life in the back seat of a yellow taxi cab. The truth is less dramatic: he probably forgot it in the closet of a Columbia University dorm room that had belonged to his fellow Beat writer Allen Ginsberg.

Peter Aspden

It resurfaced in a Sotheby’s auction 12 years ago, selling to an unnamed bidder for $95,600. The previous year, Kerouac’s most renowned manuscript, the famous On The Road scroll, had also sold at auction for a whopping $2.4m, which explains the sudden appearance of the earlier work.

Those relative values strike me as well-judged. The Haunted Life, now published for the first time and generously annotated and edited by Kerouac scholar Todd Tietchen, is a minor addition to the author’s corpus but not without interest. Kerouac wrote it at the age of 22, in the turbulent year of 1944, during which he was jailed as an accessory to murder, married his first wife Edie Parker to secure bail, and was then released.

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“I should now have material for a fine book . . . love, murder, diabolical conversations, all,” he wrote mischievously, but none of these promising themes finds its way into A Haunted Life. Instead we get a rehearsal for the semi-autobiographical exploration that would form the basis of Kerouac’s first major published work, The Town and the City.

Tietchen, in his introduction to the novella, believes that this early and methodical exposition of the author’s literary intentions is a significant rebuttal of the “public perception of Kerouac as a spontaneous word-slinger whose authorial approach merely complemented his Dionysian approach to life”. He casts the hedonistic writer as an improbable respecter of process, honing his ideas in this brisk workout.

In A Haunted Life, Kerouac’s concerns are refracted through Peter Martin, heading into his sophomore year at Boston College along with his friends Garabed Tourian and Dick Sheffield, based on the author’s real-life buddies Sebastian Sampas and Billy Chandler, both of whom had died in the war by the time Kerouac wrote the novella.

The three young men’s conversations skirt around some of the issues that preoccupied American intellectual life in the 1930s and 1940s: the end of the Great Depression, the US’s entry into the war, the exploitation of the working classes, and the possibility of romantic escape from all of those needling dilemmas.

Garabed and Dick respectively represent the leftist and liberationist ideals that animated those debates. In contrast, Peter’s frosty exchanges with his father Joe – clearly based on Kerouac’s own father Leo – see the young man wrestling with the bigotry of the preceding generation. In the novella’s very first pages, Peter drowns out the beginnings of one of his father’s rants by turning up Benny Goodman on the record player, an early reflection of Kerouac’s belief that jazz music’s freedom of form was the nemesis of sclerotic social views.

This opening feels stagey, as do the opening remarks between Peter and Garabed, clunky in their philosophical intent: “Poor Garabed,” says Peter. “Dostoevsky terrifies you with his Slavic portraits that remind you too much of yourself. You fear ugliness, you chase beauty and embrace it.”

As we focus on Peter’s interior life, touches of the freewheeling Kerouac begin to emerge in passages of existential celebration: “The morning sun, the swift clean smell in the air had called him back to life, called him back for more of the same – which at times held so much wonder that Peter deplored his physical limits. On a morning like this! – to be everywhere, be everyone at the same time, doing everything!”

Kerouac always intended The Haunted Life to become a multi-volume saga on the war, told through the story of the Martin family. “[It] will be a very sad book,” he explains in a note included here. “It can’t be otherwise: youth is shocked by maturity, but war adds to this shock enough to kill youth forever.”

But it is not for this melancholy tone that Kerouac would become best known, and it is clear from his musings that he was already looking ahead at a new America. In an outline for The Town and the City, he emphasises that the book’s ending will treat its characters well. “I write with gravity and gleefulness because I do not feel sceptical and clever about these things, and I believe that this is an American feeling. (No Joyce, no Auden, no Kafka has anything to say to a true American.)”

With that slap at the Old World, Kerouac launched himself to become one of the most exuberant adventurers of a new cultural landscape, whose heroes would include James Dean, Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley, characters who were infused with a sense of the limitless. Here, in this small book, are the tentative beginnings of a journey that was always going to lead to the open road.

Peter Aspden is the FT’s arts writer

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Philip Roth Says He Has Had His Last Sandwich

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Philip Roth Says He Has Had His Last Sandwich

The Borowitz Report

May 20, 2014

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NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—The novelist Philip Roth announced today that a sandwich he ate last week, a turkey one with lettuce and tomato on wheat, would be his last.

Roth’s retirement from sandwich eating, announced in an interview with a Dutch literary magazine, came as a surprise to the worlds of publishing and sandwiches.

In the interview, Roth attempted to soft-pedal the reasons behind his startling decision, saying only, “I had my first sandwich when I was three or four. That’s almost eighty years ago. That’s a lot of sandwiches.”

The response to Mr. Roth’s renunciation of sandwiches was skeptical, with some readers of the interview questioning whether the acclaimed novelist had not left the door open a crack to sandwiches in his future.

When asked by his Dutch interviewer if he had sworn off deli meats, Roth said, “I could see a situation at a buffet where they’d have those mini slices of rye bread, and I’d make an open-faced thingy with roast beef and maybe a pickle or whatnot. But that’s not the same thing as a sandwich.”

As if to quell any misunderstanding, on Tuesday afternoon Roth issued the following statement through his publisher: “Not only have I had my last sandwich, I have made my final public statement about sandwiches.”

Photograph by Jenny Anderson/Getty.

This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT in 1997. It’s great stuff, but apparently it wasn’t written or delivered by Vonnegut. It’s still a beautiful piece…

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This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT in 1997. It’s great stuff, but apparently it wasn’t written or delivered by Vonnegut. It’s still a beautiful piece…

I came across this and find it completely confusing- if Vonnegut didn’t write it or deliver it why present it!

This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT in 1997. It’s great stuff, but apparently it wasn’t written or delivered by Vonnegut. It’s still a beautiful piece…

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Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Shortest Story Ever Told

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Shortest Story Ever Told

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Shortest Story Ever Told

Ernest Hemingway

It is said that the shortest story ever told was written by the then young Ernest Hemingway, who said he could write a complete story in only six words!

His colleagues disagreed, and each bet 10$ against the claim.

Hemingway wrote down the words on a napkin
and passed it around.

Everyone agreed that he won the bet.

Here is the shortest story ever told:

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

NORMAN MAILER-A DOUBLE LIFE-BY J. MICHAEL LENNON-HIS BIO READING “OH MY AMERICA” FROM THE BBC

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NORMAN MAILER-A DOUBLE LIFE-BY J. MICHAEL LENNON-HIS BIO READING “OH MY AMERICA” FROM THE BBC

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norman-masiler-6

Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less. One is always living a little more or dying a little bit.
— Norman Mailer

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November 22, 2013 6:04 pm

Norman Mailer: A Double Life, by J Michael Lennon

By Randy Boyagoda

Norman Mailer campaigns for mayor of New York in the garment district with Jimmy Breslin (right), June 1969

Norman Mailer: A Double Life, by J Michael Lennon, Simon & Schuster, RRP£30/$40, 960 pages

Obviously, Norman Mailer should be reviewing the authorised biography of Norman Mailer. Were he not six years in the grave, he would certainly accept the assignment. And based on the evidence in J Michael Lennon’s impressive effort to recount Mailer’s multitudinous and combustible life story, here’s how that scenario would likely play out: asked for 1,500 words, Mailer submits 150,000. Upon learning that this newspaper is unwilling to devote its entire Saturday edition to his writing about himself, he is shocked and outraged and demands (successfully) that his agent secure a six-figure book deal so his work could be published in its rightful fullness. He uses most of that money to pay down his latest overdue tax bill; the rest goes in alimony instalments for his ex-wives.

He then flies from New York to London with a documentary film crew in tow. Cameras rolling, he pushes his way into the editorial offices, roaring for an explanation as to why his piece was rejected. The meeting leads to some combination of the following: a fist-fight, a drunken reconciliation, a drunken fist-fight, a one-night stand, a press conference. Then Mailer returns to the US to work on the documentary of his trip to London, and on the manu­script of his 150,000-word autobiographical impressions of his authorised biography. When these matters and a few dozen others are dealt with, he at last returns to the latest million-word novel he’s writing. This one concerns a barrel-chested, curly-haired Paleolithic warrior-fertility god’s endless battles against the legions of cowards and prudes arrayed against him.

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That may seem like a fanciful scenario, but it’s nevertheless in keeping with Mailer’s entire career as nothing less than himself: writer, lover, fighter, family man, man of letters, man of action. He pursued all of this from the earliest possible age. Born in Brooklyn in 1923 to Jewish immigrants, at 11 he wrote a 35,000-word novel. At 16, he entered Harvard intent upon achieving the greatest possible outcomes in the fields of literature and sex. He then enlisted, primarily so he could experience firsthand the events and soldiers of the second world war that would enable him to write “THE war novel”, as he declared to his first wife, detailing in advance his plan, ambition and expectation (these were always synonyms for Mailer). And he did it: The Naked and the Dead, published in 1948, when Mailer was 25 years old, was hailed as one of the greatest novels about the war. It was also an immediate bestseller, the first of many that Mailer would enjoy in every one of seven decades from the 1940s to the 2000s, alongside near-constant public attention, which was, constantly enough, public notoriety.

In telling this life story, Lennon competes with Mailer to assess Mailer, a dynamic in keeping with Mailer’s sense of self and approach to all else. As his one-time friend, the writer and intellectual Norman Podhoretz, observes: Mailer “must always work everything out for himself and by himself, as though it were up to him to create the world anew over and over again in his own experience.” Lennon quotes Podhoretz approvingly and then more than proves Podhoretz right by closely and thoughtfully attending to Mailer’s steroidal self-reliance, which, turned outward, took the form of some 44 books of fiction and non-fiction, thousands of magazine pieces for publications such as Esquire and Playboy, and also some 45,000 letters, in addition to screenplays and assorted public speeches. On multiple occasions, motivated by financial need and literary fecundity and intellectual jingoism and political imperatives, Mailer would publish several books in the same year, and the quality of the work did not suffer much from this prodigiousness: in 1969, he received double nominations for the National Book Award, for The Armies of the Night and Miami and the Siege of Chicago, and he did the same three years later, with Of a Fire on the Moon and The Prisoner of Sex.

He was similarly productive in personal terms: married six times, he fathered nine children, and along the way pursued innumerable affairs, some of them passing assignations, others spanning decades. Unsurprisingly, his personal life was frequently turbulent. And because he saw little distinction between his personal life and his public life, this turbulence often made news, most dramatically in 1960, when a drunk and high Mailer stabbed his second wife Adele with a penknife in the middle of a house party where he had planned to announce he was running for mayor of New York City (on the “existentialist ticket”). As he does with Mailer’s many well-publicised feuds with fellow writers, which also involved violence on occasion – Mailer famously headbutted his nemesis Gore Vidal at a swish cocktail party while Jackie Kennedy watched – Lennon recreates the terrible domestic scene in extensive detail, drawing on multiple viewpoints, including that of Adele and also Mailer, who only years later was finally fully contrite.

Perhaps the most telling take comes from Mailer’s friend, the actor and screenwriter Mickey Knox, who recalls that the morning after the stabbing, once Mailer had ambivalently visited his stitched-up wife in the hospital and was then facing arrest, jail-time or commitment to a psychiatric institution, he really had just one pressing concern: “Mailer asked him to go into the 94th Street apartment and retrieve the open letter to Castro he had been working on.” Knox was only momentarily taken aback, as he explains to Lennon: “ ‘Christ, I thought, he stabbed his wife the night before and what was uppermost in his mind? Getting the letter published. It did not surprise me. The foundation of Norman’s being is the sum of his writing.’ ”

This foundation was ordered to and by Mailer’s sense of the writer as a sacred figure of mystical capacities and grave responsibilities for an otherwise godless, dulled and plastic age: among the many subjects Mailer pursued, as a writer and whenever possible as an intimate witness and boisterous participant, were the ways of presidents from John F Kennedy to George W Bush, national politics, sexual politics, boxing, celebrity, murder, war and espionage, and that’s only in American terms. He also went after the stories of outsized historical figures, from Egyptian pharaohs and Jesus to Pablo Picasso and Adolf Hitler, and whether implicitly or explicitly, measured their ambitions and accomplishments against his own. Lennon does not defend this implacable, voracious egotism so much as establish its meaningful centrality to Mailer’s vocation.

The subtitle “A Double Life” serves as Lennon’s governing premise for exploring how Mailer’s personal life mattered to his writing life and vice versa, but he does far more than merely affirm this abundantly obvious, abundantly volatile relationship. He makes strong cases throughout the biography for the inherent strengths of Mailer’s writing, particularly his achievements in reconceptualising the possibilities of journalism. For instance, “Superman Comes to the Supermarket”, Mailer’s 1960 Esquire article about JFK’s campaign for president, fundamentally altered the terms of political writing: it brilliantly broke down artificial boundaries between the inner lives and outward actions of politicians and voters alike by exploring in vivid and numinous-toned prose the private-cum-collective psychological drama and ecstatic desires that Kennedy catalysed and embodied. Mailer did likewise for sports writing in 1974, when he went to Kinshasa to report on Muhammad Ali’s famed “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight bout against George Foreman and then published The Fight. He did it again, this time for celebrity biography, with his speculative take on Marilyn Monroe’s desires and demons.

To great effect, he erased the boundaries between true crime, the non-fiction novel and literary fiction with The Executioner’s Song (1979), his Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the life and death of a Utah murderer that many regard as his supreme work. As for Mailer himself, set from youth on producing works that would “out-Joyce James”, as he once put it, he was always intent on writing the Great American Novel, if usually distracted from this quest by much else. The Naked and the Dead often comes up as his closest approximation, but Lennon makes a strong case for Harlot’s Ghost (1991), about the CIA’s deep and far-reaching presence in modern American life. Maddening many critics and readers, this 1,300 page novel ends “TO BE CONTINUED” but Lennon argues persuasively that the book “could be likened to a magnificent, half-finished cathedral”, and that there was in fact aesthetic and intellectual purpose to this anti-conclusion, in keeping with Mailer’s incomparable, indefatigable ambitions and with his similarly capacious ideas about America.

Lennon is well-positioned to offer such judgments: following decades of collaboration on various projects, Mailer invited Lennon to write his biography after the subject outlasted his first authorised biographer, Robert Lucid. Instead of merely continuing Lucid’s work, Lennon began anew and very much made it his own. At times, he’s too willing to give his pages over to Mailer admirers (Mailer included) to embroider testimonials to his greatness. But in the main Lennon has done a very fine job of chronicling most every possible dimension of a sprawling, brawling, daredevil-cum-car wreck of a singularly great American writer’s life – and I can say that without fear of a 150,000-word letter to the editor disputing everything I’ve just written, save that Norman Mailer was great.

NORMAN MAILER BIOGRAPHY

Quick Facts
NAME: Norman Mailer
OCCUPATION: Journalist, Author
BIRTH DATE: January 31, 1923
DEATH DATE: November 10, 2007
EDUCATION: Harvard University, The Sorbonne
PLACE OF BIRTH: Long Branch, New Jersey
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
AKA: Nachum Malech Mailer
Full Name: Norman Kingsley Mailer
AKA: Nachum Mailer
AKA: Norman Mailer
AKA: Andreas Wilson
AKA: Nachem Malek
Originally: Nachem Malek Mailer

Best Known For
Author Norman Mailer used a style combining fiction and journalism to write the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Executioner’s SonAuthor Norman Mailer was born on January 31, 1923, in Long Branch, New Jersey. He studied at Harvard and served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946. Mailer’s first book, The Naked and the Dead, won immediate acclaim. His writing style, New Journalism, combined the imagination of fiction with qualities of reporting. His works included the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Executioner’s Song. He died in 2007, at the age of 84.

Quotes
“Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.”

– Norman Mailer

Early Years

Often described as controversial, combative and egotistical, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Norman Mailer—his Jewish name is Nachem Malek—was born on January 31, 1923, in Long Branch, New Jersey. His father, Isaac Barnett Mailer, known as Barney, was a South-African Jewish émigré, and his mother, Fanny, was a Long Branch native whose family ran a local grocery store. His sister, Barbara, was born in 1927.

When Mailer was 9 years old, he moved with his family to Crown Heights, Brooklyn. An excellent student, he was just 16 when he enrolled at Harvard University, intending to major in aeronautical engineering. By his sophomore year, however, Mailer had found his niche in literature. After graduating from Harvard in 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Shortly after marrying Bea Silverman, in 1944, he was sent to the Philippines, where he saw very little combat. He finished his military career as a cook in occupied Japan. His experiences in the military gave him the inspiration he needed to write his first book, the semi-autobiographical The Naked and the Dead, while he was enrolled at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. The book instantly propelled him to fame at the tender age of 25.

Personal Life

In addition to his writing, Mailer was known for his alcohol-fueled fistfights, problems with alcohol and drugs, fascination with boxers and sometimes very public issues with the opposite sex. In 1960, after a night of drinking and partying, he stabbed his second wife, Adele Morales, with a penknife, seriously wounding her. Mailer was arrested, but his wife declined to press charges, and he was eventually released after being sent to Bellevue Hospital for observation. The marriage did not last the incident.

Mailer’s attitude toward women did not sit well with the up-and-coming feminist writers of the day or the emerging crop of women’s liberation movement supporters. Furthering these sentiments, in a famous 1971 debate with Germaine Greer in Manhattan, Mailer stated that he was an “enemy of birth control.”

Mailer had six wives, including Carol Stevens, to whom he was married for just a few days in 1980 to give legitimacy to their daughter, Maggie. His other wives, in addition to Silverman and Morales, were Lady Jeanne Campbell, Beverly Rentz Bentley and Norris Church. At the time of his death, he had nine children; an adopted son, Matthew, by an earlier marriage of Norris’s; and 10 grandchildren.

Literary Career

After writing The Naked and the Dead, Mailer was never far from the limelight for the next six decades.

OH MY AMERICA-NORMAN MAILER PART1

OH MY AMERICA-NORMAN MAILER PART2

Published on Apr 8, 2013