the sea is my brother book cover

The Sea Is My Brother: The Lost Novel by Jack Kerouac

Here is the lost novel of the writer Jack Kerouac, his first book written when a merchant seaman, but an autobiography of war time escapades. Then came his more well known books – ‘Town and the City’ and of course ‘On the Road’ his epic travels across the States.

This was his first novel inspired by his love affair with the sea and it follows the fortunes of Wesley Martin, a taciturn loner who loved the sea with a strange, lonely love and Bill Everheart, a firebrand intellectual who longs for elemental freedoms and the simple life.

After a last minute decision to work their passage on a ship, they find themselves on the S.S. Westminster in Boston. Bound for Greenland, they argue, they drink Scotch, play cards, dodge torpedoes, contemplate the vast isolation of their surroundings, and wonder if they will reach their destination. Kerouac weaves their story into an intense portrait of friendship and brotherhood; an existential meditation on the desire to escape society and, above all, on the rugged, untameable power of the sea.

Jack Kerouac began this novel shortly after his first tour as a Merchant Marine in late summer 1942, where he kept a journal detailing the gritty daily routine of life at sea and the character traits of his fellow shipmates. The manuscript was lost during his lifetime when after the publication of ‘On the Road’ he became one of the ‘beat’ icons.

This book gives us a unique insight into the young Jack Kerouac and the formation of his genius.

Richard Fernley

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