Rocky Mount, NC: Sunday . One page Typed Letter Signed "Jack" in pencil with an additional 4 lines added in his hand. On 8.5 x 11" onionskin paper, with original fold lines. Near Fine condition. Neither the letter or its recipient Rose Enoch Rotberg appear in Jack Kerouac: The Selected Letters or in Jack Kerouac: A Biography. The content places this letter at the time of Kerouac's return home from his trip to Mexico City, as he entered into one of the most productive periods of writing in his life.
Reflecting on his travels home from Mexico City, where he had been visiting fellow Beat William S. Burroughs, Kerouac already sounds like the writer who will produce On the Road. "I rode the bus to within 38 miles of home and then they wanted me to wait 5 hours for 'the next bus connection' -- So I quickly took my bag and walked out on the rode and got a truck ride from an okie Florida cracker character and got home 4 hours before the bus -- Which proves that you just throw your money away when you pay bus fair."
By this point, with his spontaneous prose piece Doctor Sax completed, Kerouac was focusing more fully on what would become his masterpiece On the Road. Though by his own account he typed the novel in three weeks, Kerouac was a serious craftsman and spent the years from 1947-1956 working and reworking the narrative both in his head and in notebooks. Having left New York behind, he would do the bulk of his writing at his sister's home in North Carolina and in a home he shared with his mother in Florida. His letter to Rose shows the care he put into this decision, as he opens up about what the country gives him:
"Believe me, I could never live in NY again...the sweet night air, the eternal verities of starry sky, eternal big dipper -- the fire glow of tobacco curing barns at night -- the sweet mornings, the birds, the roosters -- the dew on the fence...nice simple goodnatured people...No more city for me as long as I live, I don't care how much they pay up there. Yes, I'm an old man at 30...Trips to NY will be sufficient for me here on in."
Rocky Mount would, for the remainder of Kerouac's life, remain a haven of peace and creativity. "Kerouac's sister and brother-in-law rented a little cottage that Kerouac used for his retreat. He'd come there from places North, South, East and West...He details his lonely walks, observing the farmhouses and tobacco fields covered in snow. Kerouac would live and sleep out on the back porch. This was his room. He would stay up late writing, either on the back porch or in the little kitchen" (Dorfner). This letter marks the very beginning of his time in Rocky Mount, and reveals how quickly he found a home there. (Item #2951)