Letters from a Legend
Death, critics and the making of Big Sur.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
(Kerouac writes Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1960, thanking the poet for the use of his cabin.)
Okay, I’ll be out there in time for July 22… What I need now is a rest, is sleeping in my bag under the stars again, is quiet meditative cookings of supper, reading by oil lamp, singing, sitting by beach with note book and occasional wine… I wd. like to spend a summer in that cabin, sleeping outdoors, visited only by you… This is no idle talk on my part, this can save my life, at least my sanity…
When I get there I can hitchhike to Monterrey actually take train number 78 the Del Monte to Monterrey and buy a carton of necessary groceries and get a cab to drive me out presumably up the dirt road up Bixby canyon from Bixby bridge – Because I’ll also have full rucksack with sleepbag, poncho, pots, etc. etc. on my back – But once there with rucksack and carton of groceries I don’t have to come out but once a week maybe and hitch into Monterrey or south to state store for extrys –
And I wanted to tell you: when yr letter came offering me that cabin for a few months I felt like it was what I was waiting for, just a night before I’d despaired in nightmares and said, “O my God, I need outside help now” and you sent it.
(Ferliinghetti writes Time magazine in 1962 about their pan of the novel.)
Your snide, sneering, condescending, semi-literate, semi-dishnonest, spiteful attack on Jack Kerouac and his latest book, BIG SUR, is disgusting. The fact that you’ve concentrated on Kerouac himself more than on his book makes your review particularly despicable. Since TIME is the Protestant bible to millions of Americans who receive your so-called literary criticism as from a godhead, don’t you think you should at least try to consider authors as human beings rather than as fodder for your advertising men and copywriters?… Your cruel, oh-so-clever annihilation of him only brings Death that much closer to him, and to us, and to America.
Source: Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1957-1969, edited by Ann Charters (Viking Press)