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Kerouac: Visions of Lowell (FOREWARD)
“Kerouac made Lowell Sacred by his attention to it, as Homer did the walls of Troy, as Dante his Florence, as Blake his London, as Pound his Venice, as W.C. Williams his Patterson, as Thomas Wolfe his Asheville — so any later illumination of the site flashes with sacred fascination.” — Allen Ginsberg


Portrait of John J Dorfner
My Introduction To Kerouac
I first discovered Jack Kerouac's writing in 1973, while living in Oregon, working for a book distributor. This was after spending over a year hitch-hiking around the country after being discharged from the Navy. It was then that I was turned on to Ann Charter's book, Kerouac. I made the first of many pilgrimages to Lowell in 1976, upon returning to my hometown in upstate New York. I wanted to see and experience the places Kerouac wrote about in his books. I knew this was something that had to be done. No question. I had to know if the reality of Lowell would move me as much as Kerouac's writing did. I spent the years from 1976-1983 periodically traveling to Lowell, working on notes for a book and starting a family. After we moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in June of 1983 and settled into our new home, I drove out to Rocky Mount. Luckily it was only 50 miles to the east.

In Rocky Mount I stood in the front yard of the house where Neal found Jack that Christmas of 1948. Jack called the town "Testament, Virginia," in On the Road. I suddenly realized that the Kerouac/Cassady Road Odyssey began right where I was standing. That is a feeling words can't describe. All I can say is "what a rush!" The research I was able to compile in my visits there became very important to me, as well as to many others. The local country folks who knew Kerouac and his family, who I was able to interview, have become my friends. These friendships, along with the foreword the late Allen Ginsberg composed for my Lowell book, are things I will always cherish. Talking about the book, On the Road, is great, discussing it with friends even better. But there is nothing that beats the experience of going out on the road, to the places where Kerouac lived, wrote and loved. Gathering the thoughts and photographs that came about from my pilgrimages, I wrote a couple of books about Kerouac's life and times in Lowell and Rocky Mount.
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