vanity of pk: so is it fiction then?

for my structure & style writing assignment, i recalled an episode from a few months ago, added and deleted a few details, changed around the names, and called it my short story. but it’s still too close to what really happened that i’m too afraid to show people who i know. i remember reading jack kerouac’s Vanity of Duluoz right before i came to Columbia and romanticizing about the similarities we (Jack Kerouac/Jack Duluoz) shared – same height, same accomplishments (high school football and track), and same aspirations (journalism, romance). kerouac never really seemed to write much imaginative fiction — he basically told stories the way he experienced them.

i remember reading Maggie Cassidy and thinking about how i could write a similar story about my bittersweet high school memories (the book was actually given to me by an ex-girlfriend who wrote inside – “hope you’ll write a story about me one day”). and it’s interesting to note that On the Road was basically a ten-day binge writing effort by Kerouac after a trippy cross-country road trip with his buddies. the editor changed around the names, but everything else was basically the way it happened.

can we really say that he was a good writer if the core substance was merely a recollection of his experiences? something tells me yes – that it’s not so much about what’s imagined versus what’s pulled from actual experience, but what’s important is the way a story is told and feelings conveyed by the author’s string of words. kerouac definitely found a voice, and that’s probably why his novels, these disguised autobiographies, can be considered important fiction as well.

kerouac died tragically at 47, having had too much to drink. it’s 5am and i could surely use a beer. i do feel a bit better about my story, though.

2 thoughts on “vanity of pk: so is it fiction then?

  1. C-Line

    He definetely was a great writer… Like you said, he found a voice, regurgitated his stories in a way that could move people… to be as adventursome as he was…gave them an insider’s look to his experiences, making them hungry…at least it did for me :) But everyone’s stories are based on their encounters…they have the freedom to play with it…back to work! :(

  2. soo

    wow that’s so cool menand wrote back! and a great line indeed.
    peter!! your blog is still in my FAVORITES. hAH~

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