In the end it's not about who gets what cut of Jack Kerouac's $10-million estate: the manipulative biographer who never met Kerouac; the nephew with an alcoholic, homeless past; or the son-in-law/New Age writer.
"Use My Name: Jack Kerouac's Forgotten Families" (ECW Press, 1999) takes a detailed look at the sad, seedy fight for the beat writer's estate, which includes his papers and unpublished works. A lawsuit over the estate was filed in 1994, but wrangling among the key players had gone on for years. Author Jim Jones, who teaches American literature at Southwest Missouri State University, knows and explains the key players and their motivations.
Jones also writes about Kerouac's extended family, including his three wives and late daughter, Jan Kerouac. Jan Kerouac had only two brief encounters with her father. "Use My Name" gets its title from one of their exchanges.
Jan Kerouac was 15, pregnant and running off to Mexico when she stopped by to see her father in Lowell, Mass. By then, Kerouac was famous for his classic book, "On the Road."