03/23/2012 04:14 pm ET

What 'Lost Works' Say About Their Authors

By Daniel Lefferts for Bookish

Beat legend Jack Kerouac's first book, “The Sea is My Brother,” hit stores this week. The novel, foraged from the author’s archives by his brother-in-law, is based on Kerouac’s short stint as a merchant seaman. It’s the story of two sailors—one enamored of the adventure of the sea, the other haunted by its isolating vastness—serving on a ship hauling war cargo from New York to Greenland. Being a Kerouac novel, it consists of rambling conversations between the two men about about spirituality, philosophy and freedom. It’s a freshman effort, with plenty of writing 101 missteps, but fans of the “On the Road” author will be fascinated by the glimpse into Kerouac’s early writing mind.

The resurfacing of a lost novel, usually after an author’s death, is always an exciting occasion. What do early works—often left unfinished or rejected by publishers—say about their authors?

For more from Bookish, click here!