Kerouac Letters, left on the shelf

Went to Half Price Books yesterday. They’re having a sale, 20% off everything, which doesn’t sound like much but, considering everything is already discounted, it adds up. Enough to make it worth going. My girlfriend found a couple of things off the clearance rack and grabbed something about knitting off the shelves. I had a more difficult time. What I came the closest to buying were a couple of books of letters of Jack Kerouac. They were the books from the 90s that Ann Charters edited. nice, big hardbound things, in excellent shape and things I have taken out of the library in the past and read bits and pieces of.

But I just couldn’t bring myself to buy them. There’s something about having his personal correspondence put out there to buy and paw through that turns me off a bit.  I’m curious, I kinda want to read them, but I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t want my letters put out there like that. Considering he’s dead, he doesn’t have that choice.

At the same time, I can see how such things might be really interesting and helpful for scholarly work. And Kerouac wasn’t exactly shy about putting his life out there in his writing. And it’s not exactly hurting anyone since damn near anyone who could be mentioned in the things have to be either at or nearing the end of their lives. The media doesn’t exactly clamor after authors, anyway.

Still, I left the things on the shelf. Maybe I’ll go back and buy them anyway. It wouldn’t be the first time I ventured back to a bookstore to snap up something I had previously left but I doubt I will this time.  I understand their value, I understand why and how they could be interesting to people, but it still feels invasive to me. I don’t, personally, need to know what he wrote to his friends and confidants. I’ve become happy with his books. It’s all I need.

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