Nobody's Wife: The Smart Aleck and the King of the Beats

Joan Harverty Kerouac, Author, Jan Kerouac, Introduction by Creative Arts Book Company $14.95 (223p) ISBN 978-0-88739-368-6
Haverty Kerouac (who died in 1990) has mellowed since her article ""My Ex-Husband, Jack Kerouac, Is an Ingrate"" ran in Confidential magazine, but her posthumous memoir struggles with how the famed writer fit into her bohemian youth. Indeed, this memoir is as much about Haverty's early grab at independence in 1950s New York and the other men in that period of her life as it is about her brief marriage to the Beat hero, which produced his only child. The 20-year-old Haverty had arrived in Manhattan after working on a fishing boat with Kerouac's friend Bill Cannastra, had found work as a seamstress and was finishing an affair with a Columbia physics graduate student when Kerouac appeared on her doorstep. His impulsive marriage proposal offered some solace for Cannastra's sudden death, as well as, the author admits, a means to motherhood. She was unprepared, however, for Kerouac's conventional ideas about a wife's place, whether in public or in bed. Her memoir ends as suddenly as their marriage, with Haverty headed home to Albany, envisioning neither her ex's later fame nor her protracted legal fight for child support. Unlike the memoirs of their daughter, Jan (Baby Driver; Trainsong), Haverty's straightforward, infrequently lyric prose isn't under the spell of the Beats--which will probably count against her with Kerouac-worshipping Beat fans. (Jan. 15)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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