Before On the road, before naked lunch, before howl, there was a murder.
In Kill your darlings, Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) takes on the role of Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg. The film, which gained critical acclaim at this years Sundance, tells the true-life story of the founding fathers of the Beat Generation, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William S Borroughs and the events that brought them together.
In 1944 Allen Ginsberg met Lucien Carr at Colombia university. Described as “angelically good-looking”, Carr was responsible for introducing Ginsberg to William S Burroughs. The group was completed when Jack Kerouac was introduced by Edie Parker, his girlfriend at the time. Carr wasn’t gay, but caught the eye of a troubled, older man, David Kammerer.
Kammerer was a teacher and met Lucien Carr while leading a youth club that the latter was part of. According to the story, Kammerer became infatuated with Carr and followed him across the country, eventually to New York. Even though Lucien Carr had a girlfriend and apparently showed no interest in David, Kammerer continued to obsess over him, hoping for some sort of idealised relationship. Strangely, Carr seemed happy to have a friendship with Kammerer and they spent a lot of time together.
Then, on 13th August 1944, Lucien Carr was drinking at a bar when David Kammerer found him. They ended up getting drunk and found themselves in Riverside Park. According to Carr’s version of events, Kammerer then made a play for him. When Lucien rejected his advances, David attacked him and Lucien fatefully stabbed him in self defence, with a Boy Scout knife. Carr then tied Kammerer’s hands and feet together, filled his pockets with rocks and rolled him into the Hudson River.
Not knowing what to do, Carr went to Borroughs for help, with Burroughs advising him to turn himself into the police. Instead, Lucien went to see Jack Kerouac, who helped him dispose of the murder weapon and the victim’s glasses.
However, two days later Lucien Carr confessed to police about what he had done. Borroughs and Kerouac were also arrested, as accessories to murder. Borroughs was bailed out straight away by his family but Kerouac’s father refused to post bail. Kerouac’s girlfriend, Edie Parker, bailed him out, with the condition that they marry in return. On the 22nd August the pair were married, with Kerouac still in handcuffs. As for Carr, he was sentenced to twenty years in prison, but served just two.
Kerouac and Borroughs wrote a novel together And The Hippos Were Born in their Tanks, clearly based on the murder. The book was only published in 2008, after Lucien Carr’s death.
It is certainly an interesting story and I’m looking forward to seeing how it translates on the big screen. You can watch the trailer for yourself here.