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On The Road, Again

A snap judgment on the next One Book, One Denver choice.

Unpack your berets and bongos and prepare for a finger-snappin' sit-in at the Denver City & County Building. Because on September 18, when the city reveals its choice for the next One Book, One Denver selection, it will not be On the Road.

Again.

Never mind that author Jack Kerouac gathered much of his inspiration for the cult classic during visits to Denver in the late '40s, and that remnants of this city are scattered all through the book. Snap. Or that On the Road, which marked the fiftieth anniversary of its publication last week, is enjoying a resurgence of popularity and publicity around the world, complete with the recent release of On the Road: The Original Scroll, an edited and annotated version that comes much closer to Kerouac's original intent, complete with real names (including that of Denver architect Ed White). Snap, snap. Or that the original scroll itself, displayed at the Denver Public Library earlier this year, drew unprecedented crowds to DPL events. Snap, snap, snap.

Audrey Sprenger minds. The former University of Denver sociology professor and author of Just Like Jack Kerouac, an audio/community ethnography (she talked about the author's importance on a September 5 episode of The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer), just took a gig at the DPL — they found her in Guatemala, where she was researching her next university road course, this one on Che Guevara and she's already planning several Kerouac-related activities for the library's Fresh City Life series. This Saturday, she'll host the first in four classes on Kerouac, the writing of On the Roadand "Girls, Visions, Everything." And then on October 14, John Ventimiglia, the Sopranosstar who played Kerouac off-Broadway, will read from On the Road: The Original Scroll — just as he did when he recorded the book as an iTunes download for Viking Penguin — while David Amram, Kerouac's first musical collaborator, leads his Denver-based trio. (For more information on the programs, go to http://www.denverlibrary.org/programs/fresh/kerouac.html).

But it's not too late to get hip, Denver. Because the paperback version of The Original Scrollwill be out in October 2008 — just in time to become this city's next One Book, One Denver choice. It's a snap!

 
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