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Hit the road with Kerouac and the Beats
Fans of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 classic “On the Road” should check out “Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation in America,” released this month by City Lights Publishers.
Whether you’re a road-tested backpacker or just an armchair traveler, this guide, by archivist and author Bill Morgan, will lead you to noteworthy Beat locales in all 50 states, beyond Greenwich Village and North Beach, the main hubs for the post-WWII literary movement. It highlights locations where Beat writers — including Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg — lived, visited and found inspiration.
To capture the essence of Kerouac, for example, make a trip his hometown, the old mill town of Lowell, Mass. Textile factories in operation during Kerouac’s childhood now comprise Lowell National Historical Park. Kerouac’s backpack and typewriter are featured in the Morgan Cultural Center, part of the Boot Cotton Mills. The park offers seasonal boat tours of the Merrimack River, a sight in many of Kerouac’s novels.
The “Beat Atlas” also makes stops in Hawaii, where American writer Michael McClure (aka “Pat McLear” in Kerouac’s “Big Sur”) was inspired in a Maui rain forest; at the deep blue volcanic depression of Oregon’s Crater Lake (its “Godlike” beauty left a strong impression on Ginsberg); and in Lockport, Ill., where Burroughs earned a pilot’s license from Lewis University.