September 7, 2022 3:10 am
On this episode of Our American Stories, regular contributor Paul Kotz gives a touching tribute to his father. At a time when Paul needed a great deal of encouragement, his father turned to an American novelist to cheer him up.
Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)
See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Our American Stories
Our American Stories
This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people.
And to hear the podcast version of the show, subscribe on the iHeart radio app or wherever you get your podcasts. And now we hear from one of our regular contributors, Paul Kotz, who gives a tribute to his father and a brief history of American author Jack Kerouac. Here's Paul. I was listening to an interview on the radio discussing the need for the presence of fathers and dads in kids' lives. I think back to my own dad, who taught me many aspects of navigating life's daily concerns, shared his own anecdotes of wisdom and challenged me to be better. If he heard someone else tell him I was a good man or that I possessed a certain trait, he would often tell me, as one example, so-and-so told me you're a very fine teacher.
Well, direct praise was not as common in my own childhood at home until I later became a man and my father was facing his own death due to a prolonged illness. At the time in the late 90s, I asked for some feedback on an incomplete dissertation dealing with learning styles and aptitude. He said, you write like Jack Kerouac. On the road, one of Kerouac's finest works possessed this kind of spontaneity that was valued by many. Kerouac is generally considered to be the father of the beat movement, although he actively disliked such labels. Kerouac's method was heavily influenced by the prolific explosion of jazz, especially the bebop genre established by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and others. Later, Kerouac introduced ideas he developed from his Buddhist studies that began with Gary Schneider. He often referred to his style as spontaneous prose. Although Kerouac's prose was spontaneous and purportedly without edits, he primarily wrote autobiographical novels based upon actual events from his life and the people with whom he interacted. Interestingly enough, Kerouac spoke French with his family and began learning English at school around age six.
He began speaking it confidently in his late teens. He was a serious child who was devoted to his mother, who played an important role in his life. She was a devout Catholic who instilled this deep faith in both of her sons. He later said she was the only woman he ever loved.
After his brother died his mother sought solace in her faith while his father abandoned it. Much could be said about Kerouac's upbringing and life exploits, but I was focused on my own writing and trying to finish this work where I had been stuck in a holding pattern. At the time I did not know who Kerouac was.
I had to look him up because it was a comment that came from my dad and I wanted to know the significance of this pronouncement. Kerouac, as mentioned before, is recognized for his style of spontaneous prose and like all of us had his fans and attractors. You would have appealed to the beat generation, my dad said. I was kind of worried because at the time I was stuck in my writing and did not think I would ever finish. Some believed that at times that Kerouac's writing style did not produce lively or energetic prose.
The famous Truman Capote said of it, that's not writing, it's typing. Yet according to Carolyn Cassidy and others he constantly rewrote and revised his work. At the time of my father's comments I was encouraged because as I learned more about Kerouac he had an attraction to the writing of Joyce. This was often overlooked by scholars of prose. Kerouac alludes to his Joyce's work more than any other author. Also Kerouac had high esteem for Joyce and he often used his stream of consciousness technique. I appreciated experimenting with this language too, but in this case my discussions with my dad I was trying to finish this dissertation where a stream of consciousness wasn't highly valued but the ability to make statements supported by varied literature and where a clear methodology in your work is quintessential. It had a style of its own. I was grateful for this time and advice with my dad.
Connected with this idea was this elimination of the period, substituting instead a long connecting dash. As such the phrases occurring between dashes might resemble improvisational jazz licks and when spoken the words take on a certain musical rhythm and tempo. Well in writing this piece I returned back to reflection of the influence my dad's comments had on me. My dad wasn't very generous in praise but he was there in the background and could be a presence when I needed that extra push and the moment was right. Was my writing like improvisational jazz licks?
Did they have a musical rhythm and tempo like many thought of Kerouac? Dad may not have been the one to go to all your games or events, see when you did something well or frequently comment on it, but when he did it made an impact. I'm indebted for this.
He passed away in April of 2000 and I still miss him. The words my dad had for me had an influence. At the time I had to delve into Kerouac to bring to life my dad's comments which seemed incomplete and asking for untapping what he fully meant.
I may never know the true extent. And a great job on the production as always by Robbie Davis and a special thanks to Paul Kotz and by the way we love doing listeners stories send them to our American stories dot com and you may just hear your story on our airwaves and on our podcasts. And my goodness it shows once again and we talk about it time and again the importance of fathers and sons and daughters lives and just this little discussion about a dissertation and spontaneity. By the way not many people think of term papers and dissertations as spaces for spontaneity but the dad's suggestion the dad's prodding moving his son forward and along his own path Paul Kotz's story and tribute to his father and to one of his favorite American authors here on our American stories. Lee Habib here the host of our American stories every day on this show we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country stories from our big cities and small towns but we truly can't do the show without you. Our stories are free to listen to but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear go to our American stories dot com and click the donate button give a little give a lot go to our American stories dot com and give.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-17 17:32:23 / 2023-02-17 17:35:24 / 3