I bought my copy of Jack Kerouac’s novel “Big Sur” at City Lights Bookstore when I visited San Francisco in 2006. I then proceeded to read it during a camping trip down to the namesake region of the California coast with my friends Zack and Steve.
It’s a dark book about Kerouac’s struggles with fame and alcohol. In it, he is plagued by hangers-on and wannabes; the “King of the Beatniks” can find no relief in the wake of the publication of “On the Road.” It can be argued that Kerouac never really recovered from the publication of that book and the demons he confronts in “Big Sur” led to his alcoholism-related death in 1969.
My own trip down to Big Sur was more about camping in the redwoods and hiking at a state park than suffering through delirium tremens, but it was poignant to read the book near where it was written. And I heard the song of the crashing waves that Jack famously meditates on in the book.
The new soundtrack album for the documentary “One Fast Move Or I’m Gone” by Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and Jay Farrar (Son Volt) has received quite a bit of airplay and other attention, but the film for which it was produced has been fairly under the radar. “One Fast Move or I’m Gone” takes a look at Kerouac’s life through the lens of his novel “Big Sur.”
The film looks like the typical talking head thing, but with some pretty good heads: Tom Waits, Sam Shepard, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, to name a few. Also, through digging around the film’s website a bit, I learned that the guy who played restaurateur Artie Bucco on The Sopranos is also a Kerouac “interpreter” (he provided voice-over work on the documentary).