A Writer's Tale, Literary Liaisons

A Writer’s Tale-Jack Kerouac

Most of my entries here in A Writer’s Tale have a bit of quirkiness about them, if not downright wackiness. But today’s installment is a far more somber affair. It involves a man who is widely held as the greatest American author of his generation, a suspicious death, and a cover-up.
Jack Kerouac was sometimes called the “King of the Beatniks”. A complicated fellow he was both anti-communist and a pot enthusiast, staunchly Catholic but heavily associated with the homosexual scene of the time. Living in New York City he fell in with Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. These three would become the leading voices of the Beat Generation. These friends and literary icons were brought together by another man, and it is to him we will now turn our attention.
Lucien Carr was native of St. Louis which is where he made the acquaintance as a young lad of William Burroughs. St. Louis was also where he caught the attention of a much older David Kammerer. Kammerer stalked Lucien from school to school, city to city until Lucien reunited with his boyhood friend Burroughs in New York. There Kammerer sought to ingratiate himself into the Beatnik scene that Carr, Burroughs, Ginsberg, and Kerouac were all a part of.
One night after a few too many drinks Kammerer pushed his sexual advance towards Carr too far, and Lucien stabbed him to death. Panicked, Carr weighed Kammerer’s body down and rolled it into the river then went to his friend Burroughs for advice. Burroughs told Carr to go to the police. But instead, Carr went and found Jack Kerouac who helped Carr dispose of the bloody knife and bury Kammerer’s glasses.
Two days later, Carr’s resolve failed him and he went to the police and confessed everything claiming self-defense and that Kammerer had also threatened Carr’s girlfriend of the time. Burroughs and Kerouac were arrested as material witnesses and accessories. Burrough’s family posted his bail and forced him to move back to St. Louis. But In order to post bail himself, Kerouac was forced to marry his longtime girlfriend Edie Parker (marriage was the only way her family would produce the money). Kerouac and Edie were married while Jack was still handcuffed to a police detective. Carr plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter and served two years before being released.
While these great American literary voices may have produced a myriad of influential works that defined their generation. It was the true story of the death of David Kammerer that most defined their own lives.

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