Offbeat: Collaborating With Jack Kerouac

by David Amram
(Thunder Mouth Press)

Jack Kerouac has been referred to as the leader of the Beat Generation, as scholars and writers have chosen to help perpetuate this myth. To the day he died, this was a label that Jack Kerouac was never willing to accept from a movement he didn't want to be part of. David Amram has written a book that works at replacing the myth of Jack Kerouac, the leader of the Beatniks, with a more thoughtful and truthful look at Kerouac's struggle to be recognized as a writer and artist.

Amram began a deep and lasting friendship and artistic adventure with Kerouac in New York City in the late '50s. Their group of friends consisted of some of the most adventurous and open-minded musicians, artists, and writers of the time. They took part in all-night weekend bashes of artistic hedonism. The fact that most people have never even heard of David Amram-or, for that matter, associated him with this thing called the Beat Generation-has allowed Amram the freedom to pursue his artistic desires without the stigma of being labeled. Kerouac was not so lucky. Throughout this book, Amram works hard at debunking the myth of the image we have grown to accept of Jack Kerouac.

In life there is image and there is truth. Today it seems we are more willing to accept without question the images that the media shove down our throats. The media have found it more worthwhile to perpetuate the image of Kerouac. He was never a Beatnik; he was a writer, storyteller, and American visionary. This is what Amram wants us to understand about Kerouac. As much as Amram is working to debunk the myth of Kerouac, he is working at preserving the great work and goodwill that Kerouac had toward the people around him. This book offers a refreshing voice that reminds us of the destructive nature the media can have on public figures. For anyone who truly wants to get a more accurate and better understanding of Jack Kerouac the writer from a primary source, this book is a must. Offbeat: Collaborating With Jack Kerouac works in helping to restore dignity to Kerouac, the writer and human being. 

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