The novel deals with a period a dozen years after the events of "On the Road"--the early post World War II America, where Jack Kerouac had finished his studies at Columbia and the New School for Social Research in New York City, ended one marriage, written a novel, "The Town and the City" (1950), that was not widely received and not in his true "voice" as a writer. He had met a group of literary friends (including the "beat" poet Alan Ginsburg and the eccentric, iconoclastic writer, William Burroughs) that would form the core of his peer friendships. He had also been heavily influenced by the vibrant outlaw, hobo, womanizing free spirit and hard-as-nails railroad worker, Neal Cassady, known as Dean Moriarty in "On the Road" and as "Pomeroy" in "Big Sur" . Below, an interview with the actor John Marc-Barr:
It was this relationship more than with any author or professor that fueled Kerouac's liberation from copying the style of Hemingway or Thomas Wolfe and toward a more revolutionary writing known as "spontaneous prose". America itself of course was an influence as well, the people Kerouac met as he hitchhiked and drove across the USA back and forth--tramps, cops, drug addicts, barkeeps, cotton pickrs, spiritual seekers, roving reprobates, hustlers, jazz cats and women looking for a man to both love for his exuberance and energy and tame for herself. He opens himself to experiences only he could translate into words with as much verve. There is a sense of desperate grasping for all "the mad ones" still plying the concrete and steel trails of the giant frontier nation before it sinks under the weight of its own material success. Further dimensions were fueled by his explorations into Buddhism and those then-unique "Bebop" jazz--he and other white hipsters hooked into. The African/American jazz clubs with sometimes anonymous sax and trumpet players exploring intimate recesses that their brethren in New Orleans decades earlier had pointed towards--it was all coming to a new experience in music from San Francisco to Chicago and New York and all points between. .
I haven't had a chance to see this film but from the reviews and the smart people who seem to be in and behind the camera I have some hope that this will be a film that may do justice to one of America's most influential authors.