Doctor Sax and the Great World Snake

Doctor Sax and The Great World Snake – In honor of Jack Kerouac’s 96th birthday (coming up on Monday) – we present Jim Sampas‘ version of his uncle’s original screenplay, featuring the voices of Robert Creeley, Jim Carroll, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and a host of talented others.

The double-disc CD of a reading of this initially-lost text (with a newly-commissioned score by John Medeski, and an accompanying book with illustrations by Richard Sala) was released back in 2003

Here‘s the announcement in Rolling Stone

Here‘s a transcript of  NPR’s Bob Edwards, talking to Jim Sampas

A previously-unknown screenplay version of Jack Kerouac’s novel, Doctor Sax, has surfaced. James Sampas, Kerouac’s nephew and the associate manager of the Kerouac Estate [update – now full manager]  discovered the manuscript, and he gathered a group of Kerouac admirers, including Beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, to record a reading – the CD version of  Doctor Sax and The Great World Snake…..

BE: There’s very vivid imagery here and you wonder if it was really being inspired by what the young Jack Kerouac thought might be in the closet or under the bed.

JS: Yeah, well I think so. You know what? It’s a real cult screenplay.  I mean, you know, it’s not, you know,  your average accessible Disney movie, you know.  It moves back and forth between real life experiences and fantasy…..

BE: Explain Doctor Sax.

JS: Doctor Sax is a character that Jack Kerouac creates based on The Shadow, the old radio drama character…..

BE: Well, obviously, we’ve got vampires, we’ve got the Catholic Church, doves, a flood, a big snake, references to the Inquisition – he’s getting a lot done in this work!

JS: That’s for sure.  He’s a very well-read writer, as you probably know, and he’s very religious, as a Catholic, and so all these things come into play in his work.

BE: Well, it deals with a lot of things that young people have questions about (and little Jacky does too in this story) – about religion, about sex, about death, and ultimately. it’s a fable about good and evil.

JS: That’s right. It’s mixed with real-life experiences that you can relate to. For instance, Jacky and his little friends, the mischievous  things that they do, a sort of  Little Rascals flavor to it , and this innocence, this very much a-boy-in-America feel to it…

BE; Thank you very much.

JS: You’re very. welcome.

James Sampas directed and produced the CD –  Doctor Sax and The Great World Snake.  It’s an audio recording of a screenplay writtten by Jack Kerouac based on his novel, Doctor Sax.

Douglas Brinkley writes: “This wild and wonderful new interpretation of Dr. Sax combines the best of old-fashioned radio storytelling with innovative modern music. If your imagination is alive you can actually feel Kerouac’s dark fictional shroud Dr. Sax haunting the banks of the Merrimac River and the midnight streets of Lowell. A creative triumph, which would have made Kerouac proud.”

We’re happy to present it to you here.

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