Affectionate if unrevealing portrait of the Beat Generation icon.
Edie Parker came up in the tony suburb of Grosse Pointe, Mich., comfortable but “surrounded by the ‘me’ society” and ready for life in the big city. Making for New York as soon as she could leave her parents’ home, she met Jack Kerouac, then on a Columbia University football scholarship, and married him just as soon as she could post bail for him, Kerouac having been jailed as an accessory to murder in the Lucien Carr affair, about which Kerouac-Parker has little to add to the bulging literature on the subject. Indeed, sad to say, this book adds little to the store of Kerouacana, apart from a few gossipy tidbits: All of Jack’s friends were crazy on dope; Allen Ginsberg “could have been a great politician” but “chose to be friends with Kerouac, [William] Burroughs, and Lucien instead of women”; for a guy who would go on to write On the Road, Kerouac “never could learn to drive”; and so on. This slight, posthumously published memoir is, for all that, heartfelt, full of the naïve wonderment befitting an 18-year-old bride: “Being just married, with my love almost out of jail and the beer and the food, I was in heaven! Everyone was singing and we joined in. When our steaks came it was pure joy to cut into them and we never spoke until we were done.” Affectingly, Kerouac-Parker writes that she left Kerouac in 1946 because of the drugs and booze but would not do so again could she change the course of history; for his part, she adds, “Jack persisted in calling me his ‘life’s wife.’ ”
For Kerouac scholars, who will find news here and there. General readers will do better to stick to On the Road .