Tom Strickland, a UWG English major who was killed while serving his country in Iraq, is honored and remembered annually by the addition of a new book to the Library’s literature collection. The book chosen for this year is a newly-published Jack Kerouac novella, The Haunted Life, written when Kerouac was only 22, the same year he first met Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs.
This work only resurfaced recently, after Kerouac lost the manuscript in 1944. Looking back on that time in his 1968 autobiographical novel Vanity of Duluoz, Kerouac mentions having “lost the long novel I had been writing in pencil, printed, in a taxicab: never heard from it again.” Actually, though, it was discovered in a closet at Columbia University, which makes sense, because in October of 1944, Kerouac spent some time staying in Ginsberg’s room at Columbia, and most likely left the manuscript there. In June of 2002 it was listed in a Sotheby’s auction catalog, and was sold to an unnamed bidder for $96,000.
The editor of the book, Dr. Todd Tietchen, who is a professor of American Literature at UMass Lowell (Kerouac’s hometown, and the setting for the story), was giving the keynote address at the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac festival in 2011, when he received an email from the literary executor of the Kerouac estate. He asked if Tietchen would like to stop by and look at the materials in his archives, which included The Haunted Life manuscript. Several months later, he contacted the executor of the estate to talk about publishing it.
More information about Tom Strickland and the Strickland Memorial Collection is available at: http://libguides.westga.edu/strickland