"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's for (Naked) Lunch?

If you didn't read the Independent's article about And the Hippos Were Boiled in their Tanks, the "new" crime novel based on a true story and jointly authored by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, you might not know that the murder victim was an old friend of Burroughs' -- and the murderer a respected editor at UPI who wished fervently for the book to be suppressed in his lifetime, and it was, although the story was well known to beat aficionados.

The real-life events behind the book occurred in the early hours of Monday morning, 16 August 1944. Carr and Kammerer were walking beside the Hudson in Riverside Park on New York's Upper West Side. Lucien Carr was 19, slight, blond and good-looking. [David] Kammerer was 33, 6ft tall, athletic, muscular. They'd met in St Louis in 1936, when Carr was 11, and later at George Washington University, when Carr joined nature hikes conducted by Kammerer, the PE instructor. Kammerer was gay and had for years been sexually obsessed with Carr.

Both men were drunk. They quarrelled and rolled on the grass. Kammerer made what the papers called "an indecent proposal," presumably backing it up with action. Carr responded with fury. He stabbed Kammerer twice in the chest with a little Boy Scout knife. Then he put some rocks in the bleeding man's pockets and rolled him into the Hudson.

For his action, Carr received a maximum 10-year sentence, of which he served two years. Kerouac narrowly missed being charged as an accessory.

More at the Guardian.

I saw this book at the local bookstore the other day. As the Guardian points out, it has an understated cover for such a lurid story.

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