AP Exclusive: Letter that inspired Kerouac found

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AP Exclusive: Letter that inspired Kerouac found
American Beat writers Jack Kerouac (1922 - 1969) (left), Lucien Carr (1925 - 2005) (center), and Allen Ginsberg (1926 - 1997) enthusiastically sing a song together in an unidentified restaurant, New York, New York, 1959. (Photo by John Cohen/Getty Images)
circa 1965: A headshot of American author Jack Kerouac. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American Beat writer Jack Kerouac (1922 - 1969) leans closer to a radio to hear himself on a broadcast, 1959. (Photo by John Cohen/Getty Images)
At the cast party for the Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie film 'Pull My Daisy,' American writer Jack Kerouac (1922 - 1969) (second left) talks with an unidentified guest, New York, New York, 1959. In the foreground, painter Alice Neel (1900 - 1984) (left) and poet Gregory Corso (1930 - 2001) (right) talk. (Photo by John Cohen/Getty Images)
American writers and other creative artists of the so-called 'Beat generation' attend a party for the film 'Pull My Daisy' at the director Alfred Leslie's loft, also the location of the film, Greenwich Village, New York, 1959. In attendance are (left to right) Peter Orlovsky, Jack Kerouac (1922 - 1969), painter Alice Neel (1900 - 1984), unidentified, Allen Ginsberg (1926 - 1997), art dealer Richard Bellamy (sitting on loft), German-born gert Berliner, unidentified 'Big Table' writer, and Lithuanian-born filmmaker Jonas Mekas. (Photo by John Cohen/Getty Images)
A picture taken on May 13, 2012 shows the 120-foot (36-metres) long original scroll of Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road' as part of a wider exhibition on Kerouac's novel and the author's influences from Rimbaud to Proust at the museum of letters and manuscripts (Musee des lettres et manuscrits) in Paris. The prized manuscript is on display in Paris for three months from May 16, on the opening day of the Cannes Film Festival where 'On the Road' by Brazilian director Walter Salles is one of 22 films competing for the Palme d'Or. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/GettyImages)
A picture taken on May 13, 2012 shows a detail of the 120-foot (36-metres) long original scroll of Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road' as part of a wider exhibition on Kerouac's novel and the author's influences from Rimbaud to Proust at the museum of letters and manuscripts (Musee des lettres et manuscrits) in Paris. The prized manuscript is on display in Paris for three months from May 16, on the opening day of the Cannes Film Festival where 'On the Road' by Brazilian director Walter Salles is one of 22 films competing for the Palme d'Or. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/GettyImages)
The American writer Jack Kerouac sitting at a table with a bottle of beer. Naples, 1970s (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
A beer bottle, cans and other items were left beside the grave of author Jack Kerouac, Saturday, July 7, 2007 at the Edson Cemetery in Lowell, Mass. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)
FILE - In this 1967 file photo, author Jack Kerouac is shown in Lowell, Mass. Kerouac's only full-length play will be staged for the first time this fall. Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the University of Massachusetts Lowell is producing a three-act play called "Beat Generation" in the novelist's hometown of Lowell, Mass. Kerouac died in 1969. (AP Photo/Stanley Twardowicz, File)
Jack Kerouac grave site in Lowell MA
Naval Reserve enlistment novelist and poet Jack Kerouac in 1943.
LOWELL, MA - NOVEMBER 05: A general of view of The Jack Kerouac Commemorative at Kerouac Park in honor of Beat Generation pioneer Jack Kerouac on November 5, 2014 in Lowell, Massachuetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
American Beat writer Jack Kerouac (1922 - 1969) holds a cup of tea as he stands near a crowded table at a Chinese restaurant, New York, New York, 1959. (Photo by John Cohen/Getty Images)
Swiss-born American photographer and film director Robert Frank (left) sits with head on hand and American Beat poet Jack Kerouac (1922 - 1969) kneels next to him as they look on at the action of the set of the film 'Pull My Daisy,' directed by Frank, written by Kerouac, and starring their friends, Greenwich Village, new York, 1959. (Photo by John Cohen/Getty Images)
American beat writers Jack Kerouac (1922 - 1969) (left) and Allen Ginsberg (1926 - 1997) read a book together, 1959. Kerouac holds a cigarette in one hand. (Photo by John Cohen/Getty Images)
**FILE**This is a 1962 photo of Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac. Nearly 40 years after his death, and 50 years after the release of his most famous novel, "On the Road," Kerouac remains an author who inspires both young and old. (AP Photo)
A group of avant garde American creative artists, known in part as the Beats, gather around a table at a restaurant, they are (left to right) poet Gregory Corso (1930 - 2001), painter and musician Larry Rivers (1923 - 2002), writer Jack Kerouac (1922 - 1967), and musician & photographer John Cohen (in mirror) in New York, late 1950s. (Photo by John Cohen/Getty Images)
Poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti, left, and Allen Ginsberg, center, look on with Stella Kerouac, right, in this June 25, 1988 photo. Kerouac autographs one of her late husband's books, during the dedication of the Jack Kerouac Commerative, a work of public art, in Lowell, Massachusetts' historic district. (AP Photo)
Jack Kerouac's original manuscript of this book "On The Road" includes editing marks and pages that are taped together to form one long roll, shown here before being sold at auction in New York Tuesday, May 22, 2001. Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, bought Kerouac's epic, a 50-year-old, 120-foot scroll of single-spaced typewritten account of his trip wandering across America, for $2.2 million. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
The original manuscript of the book "On the Road" by US writer Jean-Louis Lefris "Jack" de Kerouac is shown by the auction house Christie's in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 15, 2001. The manuscript, a typescript continuous roll of semi-translucent paper, is 119 feet long, 9 inches wide and will be sold at an auction in New York, USA, Tuesday, May 22, 2001. The expected price is up to US dlrs 1.5 million (1.7 million Euro). (AP Photo/Donald Stampfli)
Allen Ginsburg, 56, is interviewed at his Boulder, Colorado home where he tries to spend at least half the year, Oct. 8, 1982. The flamboyant poet who was deeply involved with the "Beat Generation" of the 1960s, still likes playing guru to the hip. He feels he is, "…more popular than I was in the '60s and more in touch with young people." A poster of Jack Kerouac hangs behind Ginsberg. (AP Photo/Jerry Cleveland)
KANSAS CITY, MO -JUNE 28: A train passes through an area of old warehouses June 28, 2007 in Kansas City, Missouri. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WILSON, KA - JUNE 28: A Coca-Cola sign adorns the side of a building June 28, 2007 in Wilson, Kansas.When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
COLBY, KA - JUNE 27: A man fills up his motorcycle with gas June 27, 2007 in Colby, Kansas.When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WRAY, COLORADO -JUNE 27: A man drives a vintage automobile down a highway June 27, 2007 in Wray,Colorado. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
STOCKTON, KA - JUNE 27: A man hitchhikes down a lonely stretch of highway June 27, 2007 in Stockton, Kansas.When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NUNN, CO - JUNE 27: A cross with flowers marks the spot where a roadside fatality happened June 27, 2007 in Nunn, Colorado. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
STOCKTON, KA - JUNE 27: Men solder scrap metal along the road June 27, 2007 in Stockton, Kansas.When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
COORADO -JUNE 27: A man fills his truck with livestock feed June 27, 2007 outside of Wray, Colorado. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
COLBY, KA - JUNE 27: Cars sit in an auto graveyard on the side of the road June 27, 2007 in Colby, Kansas.When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
BURLINGTON, COLORADO -JUNE 27: A truck makes its way down a dirt road June 27, 2007 in Burlington, Colorado. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SIDNEY, NE - JUNE 26: An empty table after breakfast at a local diner June 26, 2007 in Sidney, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SIDNEY, NE - JUNE 26: A sign welcomes visitors to town June 26, 2007 in Sidney, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NORTH PLATTE, NE - JUNE 26: Evening light hits the railroad tracks June 26, 2007 in North Platte, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NORTH PLATTE, NE - JUNE 26: A lighted flag hangs in a window during the evening June 26, 2007 in North Platte, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SIDNEY, NE - JUNE 26: A man rides his motorcycle down a flag laden street June 26, 2007 in Sidney, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SIDNEY, NE - JUNE 26: An old truck sits idle along the railroad tracks June 26, 2007 in Sidney, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
PINE BLUFFS, WY - JUNE 26: A roadside motel June 26, 2007 in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SIDNEY, NE - JUNE 27: Signs direct drivers June 27, 2007 in Sidney, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SIDNEY, NE - JUNE 26: Customers during breakfast at a local diner June 26, 2007 in Sidney, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
KEARNEY, NE - JUNE 26: A painting celebrating hunting hangs on a wall inside of a laundromat June 26, 2007 in Sidney, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
KEARNEY, NE - JUNE 25: Under a starry night, people watch a movie at the Kearney Drive-In movie June 24, 2007 in Kearney, Nebraska.When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
KEARNEY, NE - JUNE 25: A man walks down main street June 25, 2007 in Sidney, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SUTTON, NB - JUNE 24: An evening desolate street June 24, 2007 in Sutton, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his seminal and autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
HASTINGS, NE - JUNE 24: Goods are advertised in the window of a grocery store June 24, 2007 in Hastings, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road',it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SUTTON, NE - JUNE 24: An evening baseball game is announced to a desolate street June 24, 2007 in Sutton, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SUTTON, NE - JUNE 24: A homemade window sign pays homage to the 82nd Airborne June 24, 2007 in Sutton, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
HASTINGS, NE - JUNE 24: An empty downtown street June 24, 2007 in Hastings, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SUTTON, NE - JUNE 24: An evening baseball game is announced to a desolate street June 24, 2007 in Sutton, Nebraska. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
VALENTINE, NE - JUNE 23: A hearse carrying the casket of Josiah Hollopeter leaves his former high school after his funeral June 23, 2007 in Valentine, Nebraska. Spc. Hollopeter, 27, of Valentine, who served with the Army's 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, was killed June 14 when his sniper unit was attacked by insurgents in Iraq. When rural America was chronicled 50 years ago by Jack Kerouac in his autobiographical novel 'On the Road', it was an America full of promise and economic potential, where the majestic openness of the land was entwined with the cult of the automobile. Today, partly due to the loss of the independent family farm, rural America is a state of economic and demographic decline. Despite these changes since Kerouac and his friends sped across the vast American night, much of the visual landscape of the rural United States has remained the same. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It's been called the letter that launched a literary genre - 16,000 amphetamine-fueled, stream-of-consciousness words written by Neal Cassady to his friend Jack Kerouac in 1950.

Upon reading them, Kerouac scrapped an early draft of "On The Road" and, during a three-week writing binge, revised his novel into a style similar to Cassady's, one that would become known as Beat literature.

The letter, Kerouac said shortly before his death, would have transformed his counterculture muse Cassady into a towering literary figure, if only it hadn't been lost.

Turns out it wasn't, says Joe Maddalena, whose Southern California auction house Profiles in History is putting the letter up for sale Dec. 17. It was just misplaced, for 60-some years.

It's being offered as part of a collection that includes papers by E.E. Cummings, Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Penn Warren and other prominent literary figures. But Maddalena believes the item bidders will want most is Cassady's 18-page, single-spaced screed describing a drunken, sexually charged, sometimes comical visit to his hometown of Denver.

"It's the seminal piece of literature of the Beat Generation, and there are so many rumors and speculation of what happened to it," Maddalena said.

Jack Kerouac - Mini Biography

Kerouac told The Paris Review in 1968 that poet Allen Ginsberg loaned the letter to a friend who lived on a houseboat in Northern California. Kerouac believed the friend then dropped it overboard.

"It was my property, a letter to me, so Allen shouldn't have been so careless with it, nor the guy on the houseboat," he said.

As for the quality of the letter, Kerouac described it this way: "It was the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better'n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves."

It turns out Ginsberg apparently was trying to get it published when he mailed the letter to Golden Goose Press in San Francisco. There it remained, unopened, until the small publishing house folded.

When it did, its owner planned to throw the letter in the trash, along with every other unopened submission he still had in his files.

That was when the operator of a small, independent music label who shared an office with publisher Richard Emerson came to the rescue. He took every manuscript, letter and receipt in the Golden Goose Archives home with him.

"My father didn't know who Allen Ginsberg was, he didn't know Cassady, he wasn't part of the Beat scene, but he loved poetry," said Los Angeles performance artist Jean Spinosa, who found the letter as she was cleaning out her late father's house two years ago. "He didn't understand how anyone would want to throw someone's words out."

Although she knew who Kerouac and Cassady were, Spinosa had never heard of "The Joan Anderson Letter," the name Kerouac gave it for Cassady's description of a woman he'd had a brief romance with.

"It's invaluable," historian and Kerouac biographer Dennis McNally said. "It inspired Kerouac greatly in the direction he wanted to travel, which was this spontaneous style of writing contained in a letter that had just boiled out of Neal Cassady's brain."

It was a style he'd put to use in the novels "On The Road" and "Visions of Cody," which featured Cassady, thinly disguised under the names Dean Moriarty and Cody Pomeroy, as their protagonists. He'd continue to use it in such books as "The Subterraneans," "The Dharma Bums" and "Lonesome Traveler," cementing his reputation as the father of the Beat Generation.

Cassady would gain some small measure of fame as Kerouac's muse and, later, as the sidekick who drove novelist Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters bus across the country.

Meanwhile, about a third of "The Joan Anderson Letter," copied by someone before it disappeared, became well-known to students of Kerouac.

When Spinosa discovered she had the whole thing, she took it to Maddalena, a prominent dealer in historical documents and pop-culture artifacts, to authenticate it.

He's reluctant to estimate what it might sell for. Although the original manuscript of "On The Road" fetched $2.4 million in 2001, everyone knew that existed. It's much harder to estimate the value, he said, of something no one knew was still around.

For her part, Spinosa says, she's just happy her father rescued the letter from the trash. She's hoping whoever buys it will give the public a chance to see it.

"The letter is so good, and you see why these guys loved him," she says of Cassady's fellow Beats. "The writing, it just breathes off the page."

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