Volume 35, Number 1

On the Night Paul Pelosi Is Attacked with a Hammer

I’m thinking that I read Catcher in the Rye too late—I was in my mid-twenties and had left Holden Caulfield’s ’50s East Coast smarm in the dust—but I did read On the Road at the right time. I was 19 and flying back from Paris to my America. It was a used volume previously owned by “SIMMONS” who (I presume it was SIMMONS) wrote on the last page in five short lines

Am. Dream
Searching for
never find

SIMMONS was either puppeting a professor’s blathering or he was some sort of genius minimalist poet.

I went to a book signing in the mid-eighties where Ginsburg told me to read Visions of Cody which is pretty much unreadable. Burroughs was there too with his Pharaoh’s visage and junkie’s remove. I handed him my On the Road and he held it for ages. Then he scribbled

William S. Burroughs
for Jack

If the kids cry tonight, tell them God is Pooh Bear and to shut their eyes and they can travel anywhere. Anywhere but here.

—Thomas J. Erickson