Angry middle-aged editor meets Kerouac

James Wechsler’s memoir is titled Reflections of an Angry Middle-Aged Editor. In one chapter, “The Age of Unthink,” Wechsler recalls a frustrating encounter with Jack Kerouac during a symposium on “the Beat generation” at Hunter College in 1958. Here is the text of the entire chapter.

Here’s the moment when Wechsler first encounters Kerouac:

As I walked a trifle uncomfortably down the center aisle to the stage, I got my first view of the leader of the Beat Generation. He was attired in a lumberjack shirt unadorned by tie, but there was nothing especially ostentatious about his lack of dress. A little more flabbergasting was the discovery that he was holding what proved to be a glass of brandy, and throughout the evening he made several trips to the wings for a refill. Kerouac acknowledged my arrival by observing, “You ruined my sentence,” and then resumed a discourse which I am obliged to describe as a stream of semiconsciousness.

There it is: “You ruined my sentence.” One writer’s half-attentive opening remark to another.