Largely overlooked in popular and critical assessments of Jack Kerouac's work is how intimately it is connected to his French-Canadian background and his childhood in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Kerouac grew up among Canadian ex-pats, learning English only at age six. And in this conversation with Fernand Seguin, which first aired on Quebec's premiere talk show Le sel de la semaine, in 1967, the 45-year-old Kerouac speaks in the down-home French of his youth, highlighting the importance of his roots.
Also part of the charm of Le sel de la semaine: JACK KEROUAC is the era it evokes: one in which talk-show guests and audience smoke, men wear suits, women have beehive hairdos, and a quiet jazz combo is de rigueur.
Over the course of a half hour, he discusses the origin of the word "beat," and its links to jazz, poverty and spirituality, as well as the famed spontaneous writing technique he developed for On the Road, and his views on contemporary youth.
But the theme the conversation returns to most is childhood and family. During one segment, Kerouac watches as film footage from Lowell unspools. We see contemporaries and former neighbors who recall his intellectual and athletic abilities, and who clearly take pride in his success.
During the program Kerouac seems at times troubled and restless, occasionally searching for words. But he is also charming - cracking jokes, singing a snippet of an old folk song, and saying he recently moved back to Lowell because, "I know all the cops there." This DVD provides a rare opportunity to meet an informal and unguarded Kerouac.
"Fascinating ... viewers get a rare glimpse of Kerouac speaking the language he grew up learning. The interview is very evocative of the time. Highly Recommended!" —Tom Ipri, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Educational Media Reviews Online