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Writing “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac”

February 20th, 2023 · 13 Comments · Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac, Kerouac and The Beats, Weird Things About Me

The cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac by Brian Hassett

You wake up one day and your whole life changes just by the chance seeing of a picture.

Much the way it might with a chance spotting of a poster on a bookstore wall.

As Jack says, “My books are my children.”  And as Mama always preached — pregnancy can happen in an instant.

Unlike most books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac had a precise Birth Day.

I had no plans to become a parent when I got up on Tuesday, February 19th, 2013, but it was then that I saw a photograph posted to an online Beat group that featured a bunch of the Founding Fathers of the Beat Generation hanging out on a porch at a gathering I went to in 1982.

Peter Orlovsky, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, John Clellon Holmes, Allen Ginsberg, Carl Solomon, with Robert Frank seated, on the front porch of Allen’s house in Boulder, July 1982.
Photo courtesy Jerry Aronson from “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg” 8 hour DVD set.

It was just like that inexplicable flash vision of seeing the conference poster in the sixth bookstore in Vancouver that prompted the entire adventure.  You never expect your future to show up in front of you, but BAM! there it is!

Everyone in the online group was agog at this large gathering of giants, and how everybody looked so young, and that they were all together, and what an amazing collection of spirits this was.

To me it was just an old picture of my summer vacation.  As it turned out, not a single one of these myriad scholars or fans in the online group had attended this legendary Woodstock of the Beats.

A flow of online comments ensued, and since I’d been to it, people started saying, “I bet you’ve got some great stories, Brian!”  And “I hope you brought a camera!”

Well, now that you mention it . . . “ I hadn’t looked at those pictures or thought about this thing in years.  But being a conscientious contributor I thought I’d chime in with some memories.

This’ll just take a few minutes to write,” I thought.

I started fresh the next morning — February 20th, 2013.  “I’ll just whip this off then go run some errands” — even though I didn’t even have an “E” key on my new but broken MacBook!  Had to push the little knobby thing down below!

Somehow I didn’t get it finished that first day.  “Well, for sure I’ll finish it up tomorrow.  Gawd, I can’t believe this is taking so long!”  I started in that second day, but as it kept rolling down the road more and more memories kept coming into focus — and I was transported back to that time, as happens when you write — you begin to live in that world and not the physical one you’re sitting in.

The next day I thought, “For sure this’ll be done by tonight, damn it.”  But more photo albums and cassette tapes and notebooks and such kept tumbling off the mountain onto the path, more doors to open, more surprises, more memory boxes, more road going, until . . . “Well, for sure I’ll have this done in a week.”  Then . . . “Well, make sure you’re finished in 10 days.  It can’t take more than that!!”  And this daily delusion of finishing it “tomorrow” went on for eleven daze, every single one of them thinking it would be done the next for sure.  But it took eleven for the arc to be told from inception to curtain.

Of course, all sorts of other memory triggers and picture painting and fact checking and fine tuning and stuff continued for weeks, … and then months, until it was finally published two years later.

But I had no concept of telling this Adventure Tale when I woke up this February morning ten years ago, and after eleven time-traveling days in labor this baby was bouncing.  And boy, they grow up fast!



You can order a colorfully signed copy from me (except mailing from Canada is a costly).  You can also order it from Amazon or any place you get books. 

When the book first came out, raving reaction came flowing in from all over the world.  You can read the first batch here.

Then I had to start a second page because the first one grew too large.

Then I had to start a third!

And then I started to perform it all over — from New York to L.A., from San Francisco to Lowell.  Here’s a playlist from several different shows with the clips in the order they appear in the book . . . 


Update — Here’s a March 2023 interview done by renown British Beat & music scholar Simon Warner about writing the book, and the publishing world in general, the birth of the internet, the eternal nature of art, and shining the light, carrying the baton and passing the torch.



by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Karin Lippert // Feb 20, 2023 at 11:39 AM

    What a wonderful life!

  • 2 John Arnone // Feb 20, 2023 at 12:15 PM

    As anniversaries go, this one’s a beauty. Transformative, some might say!
    Congrats Brian

  • 3 Gubba Topham // Feb 20, 2023 at 1:47 PM

    Happy to be in on this one from almost the get-go. I remember the very first time I laid eyes on you. It was when I drove up to that 3 day shin-dig at Wizards. I had a back seat full of beer and a completely underlined and notated copy of your book, that I had managed to order and ship express from London England, a week before it was available in the United States! When I got my copy signed, I was probably the only person at the event who had read it completely.

  • 4 Sandra Trionfini // Feb 20, 2023 at 2:06 PM

    Great story! This work is so important, Brian. Thanks.

  • 5 Brian Dean // Feb 20, 2023 at 2:41 PM

    You are one deep pool, Brother Hassett.
    Happy Anniversary.

  • 6 Ken Morris // Feb 20, 2023 at 8:09 PM

    Remember the conversations in real time w/ Jeanne Masanz & others asking questions about Boulder ‘82 for several evenings. My one regret in life not getting there. Happy it was the motivation to put your book together. Along w/ the politico one, my favorite of the five.

  • 7 Mark Davis // Feb 20, 2023 at 9:51 PM

    Congratulations, on writing a excellent, and informative book

  • 8 Brian Stevenson // Feb 21, 2023 at 9:53 AM

    Got on right around Covid; ordered and read em greedily from the esteemed author and still virtual pal Brian. It’s been a great grateful trip!!

  • 9 Kris Hemensley // Feb 21, 2023 at 10:13 AM

    Yes Brian, Conversation per se and the relationship between conversation and writing — the ideas engendered in conversation & the types of expression — maybe ‘naturalness’ the key, not that natural talking doesn’t offer up its own formal possibilities! Etc etc! Cheers, Kris

  • 10 Eric Rossi // Feb 21, 2023 at 11:23 AM

    You meet the most wonderful people sometimes with just one question.

  • 11 Jeanne Masanz // Feb 22, 2023 at 4:20 PM

    Keep on writing!

  • 12 William Hodgson // Feb 23, 2023 at 12:24 PM

    Congrats on the Hassettversary of one of your eldest creations. This one sure has legs!

  • 13 Marci Sherell Zabell // Feb 23, 2023 at 6:55 PM

    Hippie Happy Anniversary!

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