December 20, 2020:
My literature prof, also my faculty advisor, thought little of Kerouac. He said, through yellow teeth and thick black beard, "Third string, don't you think?" Well... I don't know nuthin' 'bout no strings, Mister Literature Sir. While anyways he loved Thomas Mann, so what the fuck did he know?
A kid in the dorm, very good looking, very sweet, not terribly bright, saw the book on my desk. "Ker-ROOK...", he said, reading phonetically. Can't blame him for that small error. He didn't know, and why should he? He was in school but our kind of school was not his world. I told him, "He was French Canadian, it's KER-oo-ak." "Oh," he said, without conviction.
That was the first week of my sophomore year. Over the summer I'd read Kerouac, Burroughs, Perry Anderson, Freud, Kate Chopin, Balzac, Flaubert, Lukacs, Auerbach, Wilde, Marx, G.S. Kirk, Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Raymond Williams, Eagleton, Benjamin, Breton, Joyce, Flannery O'Connor, Ring Lardner, Zola, Mandel, Trotsky and many many letters from friends. Our kind of school was my world, or I'd made it so, or it lended legitimacy to what I'd have done anyway.
Fuck Thomas Mann. He of course was never my reason for being there.