Near the end of an interview in 1958 with Mike Wallace (then of the New York Post, later a fixture on the TV program 60 Minutes), Jack Kerouac admits that he is “in great despair” because “it’s a great burden to be alive. A heavy burden, a great big heavy burden. I wish I were safe in heaven, dead.” The same sentiment can be found in the 211th chorus of Kerouac’s poetic work Mexico City Blues, likely written years earlier during his stay in Mexico in 1955: “I wish I was free / Of that slaving meat wheel / And safe in heaven dead”; he knew a good line when he wrote one. The Mike Wallace interview is reprinted in its entirety in Empty Phantoms (Thunder’s Mouth Press), an exhaustive collection of “nearly all known printed, recorded, and filmed interviews” with Kerouac: by Ben Hecht on his Chicago radio show in 1958, by Radio-Canada (translated here) in 1967, by William F. Buckley on Firing Line in 1968, by Ted Berrigan in the Paris Review in 1968. The only fault I can find with Empty Phantoms is the lack of an index. Why the publisher would allow the editor to go to the trouble of tracking down and transcribing obscure audio and video appearances and ransacking the archives of ancient daily newspapers to compile such a thorough collection, and then choose not to compile an index, is a mystery. It is a small but not insignificant flaw in an otherwise stellar effort.