Published in its entirety for the first time, “The Sea is My Brother” is Jack Kerouac’s first novel. Described by Kerouac as being about ‘man’s simple revolt from society as it is, with the inequalities, frustration, and self-inflicted agonies’, the 158-page handwritten manuscript was not published during his lifetime. He wrote in his notes for the project that the characters were ‘the vanishing American, the big free by, the American Indian, the last of the pioneers, the last of the hoboes’.
This novel follows the fortunes of Wesley Martin, a man who Kerouac said ‘loved the sea with a strange, lonely love; the sea is his brother and sentences. He goes down.’ Kerouac began this work not long after his first tour as a Merchant Marine on the S.S. Dorchester in the late summer of 1942 during which he kept a journal detailing the gritty daily routine of life at sea.
Inspired by the trip, which exemplified Kerouac’s love for adventure and the character traits of his fellow shipmates, the journals were spontaneous sketches of those experiences that were woven into a short novel soon after disembarking from the S.S. Dorchester in October of 1942. This edition also contains a number of other fragments of Kerouac’s early writing and letters between Kerouac and Sebastian Sampas all from the early 1940s, as well as many images.
Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1922. In 1947, enthused by bebop, the rebel attitude of his friend Neal Cassidy, and the throng of hobos, drug addicts and hustlers he encountered in New York, he decided to discover America and hitchhhike across the country. His writing was openly autobiographical and he developed a style he referred to as ‘spontaneous prose’ which he used to record the experiences of the Beat Generation. Among his many novels are On the Road, Maggie Cassidy, The Subterraneans, The Dharma Bumsand Big Sur. He died in 1969.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.