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1947 – Jack Kerouac, 25 and a drop-out of Columbia University, returns to New York after sailing boats. There, he meets the future icons of the Beat Generation: Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Neal Cassady.
During the writing of his first novel, he travels through America, hitchhiking and carrying his small notebooks.
1951 – As his first novel The Town and the City is published in 1950, he goes back to his road trip notebooks and reshape the narrative. In April of 1951, he writes the first draft of the new novel in three weeks on a continuous one hundred and twenty-foot scroll made of tracing paper sheets.
1957 – A decade after the seminal road trip, On The Road is published by Viking Press.
Kerouac struggles with his sudden popularity, which becomes out of control and impacts his privacy, as everybody knows about his actions and addictions due to his confessional writing.
1960 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner of City Lights Bookstore offers a deal to Kerouac to get him back on his feet: the use of a cabin in the Pacific Coast, where the writer would be able to perform revisions on Book of Dreams, about to be published by Ferlinghetti.
He accepts, seduced by the isolation the location would provide.
The trip to Big Sur was supposed to be a secret. Unable to resists his addictions, he spends a few days drinking in different bars after his arrival in California, alerting everybody of his presence.
His first two weeks at the Bixby Cayon cabin offer the beatnik a rare solace while he reads Stevenson, hikes and cuts wood, writing poems inspired by the splash of the ocean. The grace was not to last, as loneliness and anxiety are coming back to haunt him.
He hitches a ride to town to escape his self-doubt, and is soon joined by young poets for a night of drinking. As the group goes back to his cabin, he strops at the home of his friends, Neal and Carolyn Cassady. Carolyn is unresponsive to Kerouac’s affection, but the couple join the group and Ferlinghetti to the cabin.
Upon leaving the cabin, Neal talks to Jack about his mistress, Jackie.
A relationship develops between Kerouac and Jackie Gibson and the novelist quickly moves to the home of the woman and her four year old son.
Jackie wants to marry him: it goes too fast for Jack, who tries to take some distance.
Thinking meeting Jackie would make Carolyn jealous, he visit the Cassady couple. Carolyn is actually delighted to meet Jackie, however Neal is envious of the relationship between Kerouac and his former lover.
Back at the cabin and fueled by alcohol, his mental state deteriorates and he begins hearing voices.
The nervous breakdown away, he is back in New York on September 7, feeling more and more out of touch. He is supposed to be the king of the beatniks, but can’t stand the promotion of LSD by Harvard professor Timothy Leary and the youth opposed to the Vietnam War.
1961 – High on Benzedrine, he writes the first draft of Big Sur in ten days, as new volume of his fictionalized autobiographical series starring his alter ego, Jack Duluoz. The book is published the following year.
Director Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho) adapted Big Sur in 2013, starring Anthony Edwards as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kate Bosworth as the alter ego of Jackie Gibson, Radha Mitchell as Carolyn Cassady, Josh Lucas as Neal Cassady and French American Jean-Marc Barr as Jack Kerouac.
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