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Jack Kerouac biographer says publisher has a vendetta against him

A biographer of Jack Kerouac blasted Viking Penguin on Tuesday for allegedly removing his name and all references to his work from its books about the late author as part of a vendetta against him by the executor of Kerouac's estate.

At a Manhattan news conference, Gerald Nicosia, author of "Memory Babe," said Viking Penguin had bowed to executor John Sampas' wishes and removed Nicosia's name from books it is publishing on Kerouac and the Beat Generation.

Nicosia — who took sides against Sampas and other family members in a 1994 lawsuit filed involving the Kerouac estate by the author's late daughter, Jan — said he was being punished for his actions.

"When scholarship and publishing is tampered with by a major publishing house, that's censorship," he said in an interview. "I haven't heard of anything like this happening before.... You don't hear about such things in the book world."

Paul Slovak, a spokesman for Viking Penguin, dismissed Nicosia's complaint, saying, "It's simply not true."

He noted that the publishing house — which is the principal publisher of Kerouac estate materials — is gearing up for the 50th anniversary of Kerouac's masterpiece, "On the Road," in September, and will be publishing other books commemorating the author. "We've not been removing his [Nicosia's] name, we never had any intention of blacklisting him, [but] our authors are under no obligation to name him in their new books or use his book as a reference," Slovak said.

josh.getlin@latimes.com

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