Lost Kerouac Book Published Author was just 20 when he penned The Sea Is My Brother in 1942 By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Nov 25, 2011 1:47 AM CST Updated Nov 25, 2011 3:54 AM CST 1 comment Comments Kerouac, seen here in a 1962 photo, died in 1969 at the age of 47 after years of heavy drinking. (AP Photo) (Newser) – Jack Kerouac's first novel is hitting bookstores 42 years after the death of the Beat Generation icon and nearly 70 years after he wrote it. The On the Road author was just 20 years old when he wrote The Sea Is My Brother, which deals with his experiences as a merchant seaman. Kerouac had referred to the work in a few letters, but experts were surprised when his brother-in-law discovered the full manuscript in the writer's archive. In the novel, Kerouac "opens up and shows a side to him that we don't normally see in his books," its editor tells the BBC. "This book is really quite important as it shows how Jack developed his writing process." Its publisher, Penguin, calls it "a unique insight into the young Kerouac and the formation of his genius," although Kerouac himself might disagree: The author once referred to the early work as "a crock as literature," biographer Gerald Nicosia tells ABC.