Jack, or "Ti Jean" ("Little

Jack, or "Ti Jean" ("Little John"), as he was known, was born on March 12, 1922, at 9 Lupine Road, in the upstairs apartment of a shabby duplex building in a Lowell slum called Centralville. He was delivered at home by Dr. Victor Rochette, whom Kerouac later described as a lonely, desolate man, unwanted and unloved. According to a neighbor, Reginald Ouellette, Dr. Rochette's wife had died in childbirth and he'd never remarried, which struck Jack, who grew up in a close-knit family that spoiled him, as tragic. In a December 28, 1950, letter to Cassady, Kerouac disclosed that his birth occurred at 5 P.M. and that Gabrielle later gave him a blow-by-blow account of his delivery. As Jack was born, his mother could hear Pawtucket Falls a mile away, crashing into the Merrimack River, heavy with spring-thaw snow and ice. Her lurid description of the way he was forcibly dragged from her body, and then yelled at and spanked into life, led to his belief that birth was the beginning of the tragedy of consciousness, the dance of life that ends in death. The processes of nature, which most writers extol as symbols of renewal and eternal life, were always seen darkly by Kerouac.
Read from chapter one of the recent biography Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac by Eliis Amburn.
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