Sep 9, 2013
Jack Kerouac is an American icon thanks to his novel On the Road (1957). During the late 1950s, he and fellow members of the Beat generation captured something essential about the American psyche, defining a desire to break away from conformity in search of an alternative form of self-fulfillment. As William S. Burroughs once put it On the Road "sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines, and also sent countless kids on the road" (Charters, 1991, xxviii).
One of those kids was Ottawa native Rod Anstee who, at age 16, hitch-hiked across the continent, part of a life-long relationship he formed with Kerouac that involved collecting his books and letters, connecting with Beat authors, and writing a bibliography.
I met with Rod at his home recently to get the story; to trace the arc of his collecting experience; to understand as best I could, the core anatomy of a book collector.