Thursday, October 29, 2009

Booking Through Thursday

I'm a week late on this one. Oh well.

If you could ask your favorite author (alive or dead) one question … who would you ask, and what would the question be?

This one is easy. I would ask Jack Kerouac if he drank himself to death on purpose. This question has plagued me for years...almost a decade now. In the documentary What Happened to Kerouac, someone (I never remember who she is, but she was a friend of his) says that he told her that as a Catholic he couldn't kill himself, so he intended to drink himself to death. Which he succeeded at admirably. However, this woman is not included in any of his biographies - I've checked the indexes. And in general, the possibility that Jack was drinking with the intent to kill himself isn't even discussed. Did this person, whose novels exude an enthusiasm for life, commit a slow form of suicide on purpose, or was death just a consequence of drinking in order to escape the realities of what fame (or infamy) had brought him?


Tessa said...

I think Jack absolutely knew he was killing himself with alcohol. He mentions it several times in journals, letters etc...His biographies are always suspect at best. You can learn everything about Jack through his own writing.He was so disillusioned and beat up so badly by the press and critics....he became such a lost soul.

Kristin said...

But there is a difference between knowing that what one is doing will kill you, and engaging in that behavior with the intent of dying. It's the difference between knowing that smoking may give you lung cancer and smoking so that you WILL get lung cancer.

Yes, he was incredibly disillusioned by everything - the press, his inability to be taken seriously as a writer, feeling betrayed by his friends, and everybody expecting him to be somebody he wasn't. And this led him to drink. He was a lost soul. But did he drink, did he have the intent to kill himself? Was he, by drinking, trying to die? I don't know.