Read | 26. Apr 2021

The Awakening

Helen Weaver´s book provides a lush picture of her short, turbulent affair with Jack Kerouac.
She was 25 in the fall of 1956 when she met him. The product of a sheltered childhood, Weaver’s world was shaken by Kerouac while he was on the cusp of publishing “On the Road,” the novel that would define both his career and the Beat Generation. Kerouac was passionate, kind and irresponsible - as well as prone to drunken depressions.

Helen was smitten by his good looks - "handsome enough to be a movie star" - and the way the poet and writer took the literature student seriously from the spot, adoring her in spite of her lack of self confidence and her not so cute styling: "The boyish haircut I had worn when I thought I was gay had grown out to something midway between a pixie and a twenties bob. Back at Oberlin they used to call me Flapper Weaver."

Their passionate relationship would only endure for three months. It ended abruptly after another encounter triggered by Kerouacs heavily drunken waking her up in the middle of the night. But even after having thrown him out of her private life Helen realized the importance of his persona as the beginning of a new era was directly connected with his influence as a writer.

What makes her memoir a must read when interested in that very moment of modern American literature.

Helen Weaver died las week after a well received career as a translater and astrologist in Woodstock, New York.

You might read her memoir as an inspiration of re-reading your collection of American poets - or as a spiritual tour guide through a long forgotten Greenwich Village.

That may have a comeback as a cultural hot spot now that all the designer shops had been vanishing.