November 2011 | Nate Pedersen

Kerouac's Debut Novel Published

Jack Kerouac collectors have a new volume to add to their shelves.  Kerouac's first novel, The Sea is my Brother, was published by Penguin last week, 70 years after it was written.  Kerouac wrote the novel after his (very) brief tenure with the Merchant Marines in 1942. He was twenty years old.

Kerouac would later refer to the novel as a "crock of sh*t as literature." He apparently never tried shopping the manuscript to publishers.

The Sea is my Brother was discovered by Kerouac's brother in law in the Kerouac archive and published by Penguin "to offer a unique insight into the young Kerouac and the formation of his genius." What little narrative exists in the novel centers around two young men in the Merchant Marines en route from Boston to Greenland. They spend much of the novel philosophizing and drinking.

Reviews of The Sea is my Brother have ranged from bemused acceptance to harsh dismissal. From the Guardian, "Sadly it would take another 15 years and colossal amounts of Benzedrine for the genius to emerge; there's certainly none here. The writing should be entered in a bad prose competition."

Nevertheless, Kerouac collectors and enthusiasts will undoubtedly want to pick up a copy for their collections. The book is available right now in the UK. It will be published on March 6, 2012 in the States.