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1. On the Road (Penguin Classics)
2. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg:
3. On the Road: 50th Anniversary
4. The Subterraneans
5. Desolation Angels
6. Jack Kerouac: Road Novels 1957-1960:
7. Big Sur
8. On the Road (Essential Penguin)
9. On the Road (Penguin Great Books
10. The Dharma Bums (Penguin Classics
11. Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha
12. Windblown World: The Journals
13. Mexico City Blues: 242 Choruses
14. Good Blonde
15. Tristessa
16. Dr. Sax
17. Lonesome Traveler (Kerouac, Jack)
18. Kerouac: A Biography
19. Memory Babe: A Critical Biography
20. Book of Sketches (Poets, Penguin)

1. On the Road (Penguin Classics)
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 307 Pages (2002-12-31)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$5.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142437255
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Jack Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "Beat" and has inspired every generation since its initial publication more than forty years ago.

Introduction by Ann Charters ... Read more

Customer Reviews (54)

5-0 out of 5 stars A journey through the eyes of a Beatnik
The point of On the Road seems to be a very contended subject in these reviews.If you are someone who has never gotten high at a party, or drunk at a party, or every been to a party, or ever had fun in a slightly irresponsible way... then the point of On the Road might be lost on you because there is very little in the way of responsibility in this book. .Kerouac's recklessly vivid journey across America and back on multiple occasions are provocative because Kerouac can make you feel like you are riding in the car with Sal and Dean in the early 1950's, before society had come to terms with the idea of a reckless free spirit.Kerouac captures the times, places and people in his work like few other authors.Are his characters or protagonists the most respectable or responsible people in literature?Not really, not even close, but they are incredibly crafted personalities and in the case of On the Road, willing to act on impulses most of us wish we could.The idea of taking off across the country with whatever cash you have in your wallet and a knapsack, meeting great people along the way, and somehow always managing to get where you are going and do what you're doing, sounds like an incredible way to live life, however, it's not an attainable lifestyle for most of us.On the Road indulges you to live out this fantasy with characters who truly seek out what is best about life at all costs, and it's exciting the whole way through.If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, than I guarantee you it isn't.Kerouac isn't for everyone.

1-0 out of 5 stars Harmful to women.....and men
The most admired character in the book, Dean, uses and abuses women for his sexual needs, including young girls.This book glamorizes the use of drugs (marijuana) and underage prostitution.If you like books that reinforce the idea that women should be used for sexual gratification and otherwise are not worth spending time on, this one's for you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Condition, Extremely Fast Shipping
I recieved the item I ordered from this seller within 4 days, it was in almost new condition- no writing in pages, barely noticeable wear, and exactly what i ordered. I would purchase from this seller again!

1-0 out of 5 stars A classic if you're a bongo slapping, nonsense spewing beatnik.
I'll be totally frank: I hated this book. It was given to me as a birthday present recently, and I decided to read it since I'd heard it be deemed as an American classic in some literary circles (I would find them to be beatnik circles later on). To start with, the plot follows Sal Paradise as he meets a variety of mutual friends and finally meets Dean Moriarty. First, Sal decides on a whim to hitch rides with a buddy to Denver from New York so he can party with his buddies for God knows how long, THEN they decide to go San Francisco to accomplish the exact same thing. All the while, we see Dean Moriarty becoming more and more of a party animal lunatic as he marries and divorces several women, tries to tie in mystical phenomena with sociological conditions in a painful attempt of appearing scholarly and essentially justifies his becoming a screw-up. Finally, at the end of the novel, they go to Mexico and thus, the one relevant portion of the story unfolds as they explore a new world with gripping detail. However, the mood is ruined when they go back to America (oh no!) and the cycle of winoism starts over.
For the most part, it was the characters and their attitudes that made me hate the book, as I quickly found out that I absolutely despise the beatnik generation. From what I understand, the beatnik generation was an underground attitude of rebellion that happened during the 40s and 50s. During that time period, they didn't seem to have much means of rebellion other than drinking too much and mildly experimenting with narcotics whilst reciting some of the worst poetry and romanticisms I've ever heard. They inspired the next generation of rebellion, the hippies, but it feels like the beatniks pale in comparison. Certainly they both had faulty and unrealistic mentalities, but at least the hippies made commendable efforts to make an impact for the greater good. Whereas the "Beat Generation" seem to be bad writers and poets who over-romanticize and blow the mediocrity and mundane life they live in WAY out of proportion. This behavior might have been crazy, revolutionary and ingenius in the 1950s, but in the 21st century, this mentality has been embraced and perfected over and over and over again to the point where it doesn't even ring a note out anymore. In fact, all you need to do is go to your nearest State College and hit up a few parties if you want to see this behavior and mentality.
The other thing I hated about this book was Kerouac's writing style. He felt that every drunken conversation and awkward social reaction was ABSOLUTELY significant and necessary to the story to the point where he revolves the entire story around them. Everything else seemed to be treated like filler or build-ups to the next drunken discussion about "digging the streets," and "digging the people." He takes note of everything, then predictably tries to describe it in a poetic fashion. Maybe this isn't Kerouac's best example for poetic descriptions, but even Evan Wright's "Generation Kill" was more poetic than this. I'm guessing he wasn't very well educated in the arts.
More overall view of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" is that it's a failed attempt at being Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" 20 or 30 years before "Fear and Loathing" was even written.

1-0 out of 5 stars THE BEATLESS GENERATION


2. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters
by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg
Hardcover: 528 Pages (2010-07-08)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$20.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670021946
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The first collection of letters between the two leading figures of the Beat movement

Writers and cultural icons Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg are the most celebrated names of the Beat Generation, linked together not only by their shared artistic sensibility but also by a deep and abiding friend­ship, one that colored their lives and greatly influenced their writing. Editors Bill Morgan and David Stanford shed new light on this intimate and influential friendship in this fascinating exchange of letters between Kerouac and Ginsberg, two thirds of which have never been published before. Commencing in 1944 while Ginsberg was a student at Columbia University and continuing until shortly before Kerouac's death in 1969, the two hundred letters included in this book provide astonishing insight into their lives and their writing. While not always in agreement, Ginsberg and Kerouac inspired each other spiritually and creatively, and their letters became a vital workshop for their art. Vivid, engaging, and enthralling, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters provides an unparalleled portrait of the two men who led the cultural and artistic movement that defined their generation. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Epistolary Heaven!
I also absolutely love this amazing collection and wish I had an exceptional soul mate to collaborate with and share my innermost thoughts with like these two had in one another.There are so many ideas, delightful stories from places like bughouses, creative mini poems, literary references, truth, and glimpses into their lives and souls...I am having fun exploring their references each morning after a night of pure pleasure in the company of this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Used book for new
I believe the new book I ordered was replaced with a 'gently used' version.The book had a bent cover and had a stain on the top of the pages.I don't call that NEW.Was disappointed in the seller.

5-0 out of 5 stars Food for my soul
Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters is a collection for fans who are well versed in Beat literature and all it's peripheral characters as there's very little biographical data given.I'm that fan.I never get enough of Jack and Allen, and this inside peak into their intimate relationship, which they both hoped would someday be published, was food for my soul.It was more than an intellectual relationship; it was more than two writers sustaining each other through all the long years of not getting published.It was soulful, spiritual twining.Jack was not always nice to Allen.At times he was down-right mean, and then there was this on Jan. 13, 1950:

"What is the mystery of the world?Nobody knows they're angels."

Followed a few days later by:
"Jesus, Allen, life ain't worth a candle, we all know it, and almost everything is wrong, but there's nothing we can do about it, and living is heaven."

"If we were not haunted by the mystery of the world, we wouldn't realize nothing."

The letters are full of "I love you, Allen," "I love you, Jack," especially towards the end, when Jack was caught in the downward spiral of alcoholism that eventually led to his death at age 47.

I felt every word.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Love This Book
I respectfully disagree with the "greenhornet" review, which complains that Kerouac letters from this collection also appear in the Ann Charters collection.What "greenhornet" fails to take into consideration is the fact that Ginsberg's letters TO Kerouac are not included in the Charters collection, so you get no sense of the "back and forth" flow of the correspondence between these two literary giants and therefore miss (at least) half the story.This collection, however, shows how Jack and Allen's relationship changed over the years.I must say that I absolutely love this book.Check out this ecstatic Buddhist advice from Kerouac: (p. 308)."The mind has its own intrinsic brightness but it's only revealable when you stop thinking and let the body melt away.The longer you hold this position of cessation in light, the greater everything (which is Nothing) gets, the diamond sound gets louder...the transcendental sensation of being able to see through the world like glass, clearer...all your senses become purified and your mind returns to its primal, unborn, original state of perfectionDon't you remember before you were born?"
Hooooo weeeee now, that's some cool advice Jack is giving Allen.Because Kerouac and Ginsberg are my two favorite authors, I've actually replaced (on my bookshelf) the Charter books with this collection.

1-0 out of 5 stars Beware
Kerouac fans beware! This book is advertised as "Two thirds which have never been published before" and they must be Ginsbergs because out of the entire book, from 1957 on, practically all of these letters can be found in Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1969 edited by Ann Charters. Only SIX are new! Charters is a much better work, and it was published ELEVEN years ago. I don't know how many are from the 1940-1956 era because I presently don't have my copy with me, but these letters all seem familiar. I see this as just a waste of money... Buy Jack's two volumes of Letters and don't waste your money on this like I did. Hopefully Ann Charters will edit some more of Jack's letters because there's still a lot left to be read. ... Read more

3. On the Road: 50th Anniversary Edition
by Jack Kerouac
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2007-08-16)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$13.86
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670063266
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
On the Road chronicles Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent-from East Coast to West Coast to Mexico-with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West."

Read by Will PattonAmazon.com Review
A 50th anniversary hardcover edition of Kerouac’s classic novel that defined a generation

Few novels have had as profound an impact on American culture as On the Road. Pulsating with the rhythms of 1950s underground America, jazz, sex, illicit drugs, and the mystery and promise of the open road, Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "beat" and has inspired generations of writers, musicians, artists, poets, and seekers who cite their discovery of the book as the event that "set them free." Based on Kerouac's adventures with Neal Cassady, On the Road tells the story of two friends whose four cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naïveté and wild abandon, and imbued with Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up. This hardcover edition commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the first publication of the novel in 1957 and will be a must-have for any literature lover.

Celebrating 50 Years of On the Road
In three weeks in a Manhattan apartment in April 1951, Jack Kerouac wrote his first satisfactory draft of On the Road as a single, 120-foot scroll. On the Road: The Original Scroll prints the text of this remarkable literary artifact in book form.
Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They're Not What You Think): John Leland, author of Hip: A History, argues that On the Road still matters not for its youthful rebellion but because it is full of lessons about how to grow up.

From the back cover of On the Road: The Original Scroll: Jack Kerouac displaying one of his later scroll manuscripts, most likely The Dharma Bums

Kerouac's map of his first hitchhiking trip, July-October 1947 (click image to see the full map)

Original New York Times review of On the Road (click image to see the full review)

... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars narration is top-notch
Will Patton is riveting and wonderfully lyrical as he reads this great work. Definitely perfect for a long road trip.

1-0 out of 5 stars Jack Kerouac writes like a drunken 13-year-old
This is the story of two guys guys on speed who take endless road trips back and forth across the country for some reason. Its rambling, repetitive, and pointless. The only reason its even this coherent is because it was heavily edited.

Driving down I-40 is not a mystical experience.

5-0 out of 5 stars nice gift, wish i got it
i bought this as a gift for a friend.i have read on the road, and it was an amazing story, i didn't read this edition though.my friend thought it was super cool, and is now taking it with him this summer during hikes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great read.I got hooked on Kerouac when I read this book.
I first read On The Road about 10 or 12 years ago.Once I read this book I wanted to read them all.I have yet to get thru all of them but Im almost there.I can this book is one of his best that Ive read so far.He's a writer that likes to break the rules of writing and he doesnt seem to care either.Its a great read for anyone that's true rebel at heart.His search for the American Dream is unparalelled from anything else Ive read.

Reading this book also lead me to read the work of (Allen) Ginsberg,(Bill) Burroughs and (Neal) Cassady(who plays Dean in this story)to name a few.

5-0 out of 5 stars Destination: Move
Author Jack Kerouac (in the character of Sal Paradise) narrates this love story about two brothers; well, not quite; it's about two sojourners, no,OK, see there's these two polar opposites who've fallen victim to "IT" (you know IT!IT!) . . - aw hell it's about a free spirit (real life Neal Cassidy in the character of Dean Moriarty) burning his life away searching for TrueExperience (a.k.a The American Dream?) and sucking the brotherly, devoted, and always forgiving Sal Paradise through that vortex with him.Crack the book, and join the frenetic and exuberant world of the "Beats"!Marginalized by the mainstream, and perpetually broke, members of this post WWII subculture lived in pursuit of spiritual, sensual, and intellectual enlightenment, their energies fueled by optimism, wanderlust, and, pretty much, a liberated joy of living.The story and the language, especially the language, tugs at us, and bends us toward that search ourselves, but we really can't go; our lives are too wrapped up in fluctuation avoiding conventionalities, or maybe we're just milquetoasts who retreat to live out our days at a safe distance, looking in, and never daring to leave our banal existence, leaving it up to Sal the narrator to tell us that "the things that were to come are too fantastic not to tell."We are the "they" in Dean's analysis of our problem: "But they need to worry and betray time with urgencies false and otherwise, purely anxious and whiney, their souls really won't be at peace unless they can latch on to an established and proven worry . . ."Dean advises "The thing is to not get hung-up", and Sal clarifies the book's anthem, explaining that the main characters were "leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move.And we moved!"Pre-historic man developed the wheel, industrial age man harnessed propulsive forces to spin the wheel, and twentieth century man laid continent spanning ribbons of concrete to enable his free spirited kinsmen (represented by Dean Moriarity and Sal Paradise) to exercise that "one and noble function."We can expect that the aspirations of future man will be no different.On The Road lays open and bare before our eyes the true hard-wiring at the core of our human self, and what we see is that glorious radioactive white light of irreverent individualism; and it's hard not to stare, despite the danger.When the control rods were passed out, they somehow missed Moriarity; "You spend a whole life of noninterference with the wishes of others . . . . What's your road, man? - holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road.It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow."

On The Road is rich in other characters of the "Beat Generation", including for example William S. Burroughs in the character of Old Bull Lee and Allen Ginsberg as Carlo Marx, and the story doesn't wince from informing us of the roles played by personal relationships, drugs, and alcohol in the life fabric of the Beats.Actual American road trip experience in the jazz drenched era at the close of the 1940s inspired the stream of experiences painted onto the pages of this book.From a distance, we may view a life of continent hopping travel, unfettered with responsibility, as the magnetic stuff of myth, discovery, and "kicks."Under the microscope of Kerouac's pen, these charms happily survive, though somewhat bruised by the real human experiences and consequences of naiveté, dependence, relationships, self-doubt, hardship, and the need to forgive.

I received Penguin Audio's On The Road, skillfully narrated by Will Patton (and spanning nine CDs), from my daughter for Christmas."Something to do on your commute," she said.Yes, I did chew off a long commute when I moved here in 1981.Ninety minutes one-way.But somewhere in the first chapter, I found myself "completely in there with all the terms and jargon," and it was actually quite disappointing to run out of listening time at the end of the commute, chapter after chapter day after day.I'll confess to inhaling this story three times while "on the commute" over the following weeks.In the process I zeroed in on several dozen key passages--gems each.For example, there's Sal's unapologetic description of people who interested him, the only ones for him being "the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time," and the glimpse into Dean's frantic jumble of a brain with his statement that "We're really all of us bottomly broke.I haven't had time to work in weeks."I kept notes on these finds, and considered what it would take to create a sort of audio synopsis of the book - you know, some dialog backed with appropriate music.But nothing worked; not blues, not soul, especially not rock; not even jazz.And finally it hit me, as you could have told me from the beginning, that the language of this book is jazz - you can't back music with music: the book's dialect is its own soundtrack!I dismissed the whole idea - just go with the book or CDs as they are; they're perfect.

As I write this and consider today's tarnished economic landscape, I wonder about the American Dream; has it gone the way of the dinosaur? Kerouac may have come to that sullen conclusion over half a century ago.But he kept that thought to himself, and instead vocalized a glimmer of optimism for his friends, and for us, with his observation "Old Dean's gone, I thought, and out loud I said `He'll be all right.' "
... Read more

4. The Subterraneans
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 111 Pages (1994-01-27)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802131867
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Written over the course of three days and three nights, The Subterraneans was generated out of the same ecstatic flash of inspiration that produced another one of Kerouac's early classic, On The Road. Centering on the tempestous breakup of Leo Percepied and Mardou Fox--two denizens of the 1950s San Francsico underground--The Subterraneans is a tale of dark alleys and dark rooms,of artists, of visionaries,
... Read more

Customer Reviews (44)

4-0 out of 5 stars Satisfied Customer
I was very pleased when this book came in the mail 3 days after placing my order. The book has no writing or signifigant wear on the inside. The only thing I would say that could be less than satisfactory to some would be that it was a different edition than displayed in the picture-fairly old, and the cover was very well worn.

2-0 out of 5 stars Typing, not writing...
I appreciate that many people love this book. I also appreciate that it should be read in its historical context and that it was groundbreaking

But, if I am honest, reading it was a chore. Dull, dull, dull.

1-0 out of 5 stars have not recieved my book yet?
Subterraneans ordered Oct. 21 have not received as of yet ... and since I can't post this unless I rate it and can't rate it unless I receive it ... I gave it a 1

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Work by Kerouac
The Subterraneans is a wonderfully written masterpiece. Having finished it, I can hardly bring myself to read any other author because the images are not as fresh. Kerouac paints a picture, or rather opens a window, to allow the modern reader to view what it was in the Beat generation. Written from the point of view of the author, this book gives an interesting perspective on not only his personal romance (as it could be taken to be a romance novel, although certainly not sappy, and has a good deal of ordinary commentary) but the struggle which falls upon many young lovers. In his relationship with the girl Mardou, we can see everything from his point of view, why he did things, how they turned out, etc. Being written from a perspective of a man at the end of his romantic journey, it looks back on the past with a two-pronged approach. We are able to see his perspectives as he was involved with the girl, and in a way only Kerouac could provide, his feelings of remorse after the fact. At the same time, you fall in love with the characters, feel as if you'd known them personally. It is a great book, and a necessary read for Beat-style fans!

5-0 out of 5 stars Just A Good Little Book
Other reviews here for this book are great and very detailed. But I wont waste time with the usual cliches that come along when one describes Kerouac and/or his books. I wont try to be cool and hip like TOO many people do when they THINK they know about Kerouac and his work. Kerouac wouldnt be very fond of all that garbage either. Its what killed him. But the Subterraneans is just a great story that keeps your attention from start to end. Its fast paced and memorable. If youre new to Kerouac and/or you want to go beyond "On the Road" and have a peek into more Kerouac- this is the book for you. Its not a long one- but its one you wont soon forget.

There- a simple review. God Bless you Jack. ... Read more

5. Desolation Angels
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 409 Pages (1995-09-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1573225053
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The classic novel from the definitive voice of the Beat Generation, Desolation Angels is the story of Kerouac's life just before the publication of On the Road--as told through his fictional self--Jack Duluoz. As he hitches, walks, and talks his way across the world, Duluoz perceives the angel that is in everything. It is life as he sees it. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

4-0 out of 5 stars didn't order this online but i do own it...
i really liked this book after the second reading.for some reason i read this before "on the road".once i came back to it after reading nearly every other kerouac book i liked it much more, and thought that it was really more of a realization to "on the road" and filled in a bunch of the gaps.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Jack, but not his best
This is Jack doing what Jack does well.I did not get the same amount of excitement from it as I did from On The Road.It was a satisfying read, but he did better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Jack Kerouac Sees The Face Of ...
Some of the general points made below have been used in other reviews of books and materials by and about Jack Kerouac.

"As I have explained in another entry in this space in a DVD review of the film documentary "The Life And Times Of Allen Ginsberg", recently I have been in a "beat" generation literary frame of mind. I think it helps to set the mood for commenting on one of Jack Kerouac's major works, "Desolation Angels", essentially a series of `real world' job-related reflections on his time as a forest ranger in Washington state, andhis subsequent "decompression" from that isolating job by travel abroad and in America with his motherin his well known spontaneous writing method at a time when he was trying to keep body and soul together, that it all started last summer when I happened to be in Lowell, Massachusetts on some personal business. Although I have more than a few old time connections with that now worn out mill town I had not been there for some time. While walking in the downtown area I found myself crossing a small park adjacent to the site of a well-known mill museum and restored textile factory space. Needless to say, at least for any reader with a sense of literary history, at that park I found some very interesting memorial stones inscribed with excerpts from a number of Kerouac's better known works dedicated to Lowell's `bad boy', the "king of the 1950s beat writers".

And, just as naturally, when one thinks of Kerouac then, "On The Road", his classic modern physical and literary `search' for the meaning of America for his generation which came of age in post-World War II , readily comes to mind. No so well known, however, is the fact that that famous youthful novel was merely part of a much grander project, an essentially autobiographical exposition by Kerouac in many volumes starting from his birth in 1922, to chart and vividly describe his relationship to the events, great and small, of his times. Those volumes bear the general title "The Legend Of Duluoz".That is why we today, in the year of the forty anniversary of Kerouac's death, are under the sign of his book of essays "Desolation Angels".

Sometimes one, including a frustrated writer like Kerouac who was on to something but could not get published in the early 1950s, just has to get away from it all.And what better job that a ranger in a far off mountain range where one can think, save money, and contemplate the nature of the universe. For a while at least. Then, a social being like Kerouac (at that time) needs to get back to civilization. In this case the "wilds" of San Francisco then to Europe and North Africa. And then, along the way, has to under some mysterious internal compulsion has to fulfill his self-appointed obligation to take care of `mere" (his mother) by transporting her across the country by bus to start a new life. That is the outline of the mental and physical travelogue that Kerouac, a master of this kind of descriptive writing, takes us on. In addition there are cameo appearances by many of the "regular" who we have come to know through this "Legend" saga, including the above-mentioned Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady. This one rates just below "On The Road".

5-0 out of 5 stars great and warm story
Desolation Angels is a sentimental story which takes place in the time leading up to On The Road being released. To me, this is a great story of adventure and personal reflection for Kerouac. I won't rant, but my favorite part takes place with William Burroughs in Tangiers while he is working on his masterpiece Naked Lunch. Must buy for Kerouac fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Timid Before God
Jack Kerouac's 'Desolation Angels', written about a period of his life roughly 10 years before his death, acts as a nice bridge between 'On The Road' (which was awaiting publication during the course of events described in "Angels") and a subsequent publication, Big Sur, both of which I've read.

During his two month self-imposed exile to work as a fire ranger on Desolation Peak, Jack Kerouac was forced to confront many of his pre-existing or emerging demons.The location for this period of his life is especially apropos for the 'desolation' surrounding Kerouac, much of which was self-created, as he sank further into depression and alcoholism.

The book covers more of his life than just the two months on Desolation Peak, but as Jack re-emerges into society, you get the sense that this 'loner' was only comfortable being 'alone' amongst others...that while he could see, smell, and wander amongst others, and feel tolerably 'isolated'...he could not stand the true isolation he could achieve, to remove himself from society altogether.

Jack wanders from the American Northwest to Florida, to Mexico, to Tangiers, to California with his mother in tow, and eventually back to Florida, when his mother grows further depressed with their cross-country move after only a month.

Many players from Kerouac's former novels appear in this one as well, albeit with different names...the poet 'Gregory Corso,' to whom Kerouac lost 'Mardou Fox' in "Subterraneans" is called 'Raphael Urso' in "Angels"...'Dean Moriarty,' from "On The Road" is 'Cody' in this incarnation.

Kerouac's detachment from the Beat Generation, his status as their reigning 'king', his fame, and his Buddhist beliefs all come into focus during this novel, one of his finest, in my opinion. If you rode shotgun with Kerouac for On The Road, explore his life further, and you will uncover far more about this dark, troubled, but fascinating author. ... Read more

6. Jack Kerouac: Road Novels 1957-1960: On the Road / The Dharma Bums / The Subterraneans / Tristessa / Lonesome Traveler / Journal Selections (Library of America)
by Jack Kerouac
Hardcover: 900 Pages (2007-09-01)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$22.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1598530127
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The raucous, exuberant, often wildly funny account of a journey through America and Mexico, Jack Kerouac's On the Road instantly defined a generation upon its publication in 1957: it was, in the words of a New York Times reviewer, "the clearest and most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as 'beat.'" Written in the mode of ecstatic improvisation that Allen Ginsberg described as "spontaneous bop prosody," Kerouac's novel remains electrifying in its thirst for experience and its defiant rebuke of American conformity.

In his portrayal of the fervent relationship between the writer Sal Paradise and his outrageous, exasperating, and inimitable friend Dean Moriarty, Kerouac created one of the great friendships in American literature; and his rendering of the cities and highways and wildernesses that his characters restlessly explore are a hallucinatory travelogue of a nation he both mourns and celebrates. Now, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Kerouac's landmark novel, The Library of America collects On the Road together with four other autobiographical "road books" published in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The Dharma Bums (1958), at once an exploration of Buddhist spirituality and an account of the Bay Area poetry scene, is notable for its thinly veiled portraits of Kerouac's acquaintances, including Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Kenneth Rexroth. The Subterraneans (1958) recounts a love affair set amid the bars and bohemian haunts of San Francisco. Tristessa (1960) is a melancholy novella describing a relationship with a prostitute in Mexico City. Lonesome Traveler (1960) collects travel essays that evoke journeys in Mexico and Europe, and concludes with an elegiac lament for the lost world of the American hobo. Also included in Road Novels are selections from Kerouac's journal, which provide a fascinating perspective on his early impressions of material eventually incorporated into On the Road. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Nearly perfect
This Kerouac edition is my favorite. I love having so many great masterpieces in one volume. The compactness and thin pages makes it carry like a bible :) The only complaint I have is the exclusion of "Desolation Angels"... my favorite Kerouac novel. I recently purchased Dharma Bums for my iBook app on my iPad and it just doesn't have the book "feel" that this edition has in bounds.

4-0 out of 5 stars So close yet no cigar...
It literally drives me mad that Big Sur is missing from this collection. It is like their Dos Passos without the drawings...What were they thinking!?

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible Collection of lesser known Kerouac
Most people know Kerouac for "On the Road", and rightly so, due to its groundbreaking clarity and insight into the generation, the movement, and the lifestyle of the Beatnik. It is an incredible book, and after reading it I was immediately hooked on to Kerouac and needed to find more. I myself would place my spirit in the "free willed" section, meaning that I can really appreciate and relate to not only the characters that Kerouac writes so fondly of, but also the way Kerouac himself thinks and writes, an of-the-moment style all his own.

This collection of novels has sent me down an incredibly exciting rabbit hole of Kerouac, and I loathe the day I will complete it. Housing not only "On the Road", but also lesser known and shorter works such as "The Subterraneans" (which I am currently reading through), this book is a marvelous testament to Kerouac's style and his passion for freedom and goodwill.

For any fan of "On the Road" who wants to read more and get to know Kerouac better, this is the perfect book at a perfect price. There is simply so much material in this book that even though it is small, flipping through it I come across a daunting amount of novel that I am eager to attack. To my surprise, now that I have been exposed to Kerouac's other works, I've found that I almost enjoy his other works better than "On the Road" (such as "The Dharma Bums", a wonderful spiritual journey through the forests of the West Coast).

If it was not clear before, I am a huge fan of Kerouac and this book has allowed that love to grow tremendously through being such an easy resource of his work. This will be a treasured book on my bookshelf for many years to come, and I hope to be able to lend it to others who will appreciate its sweeping scope as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kwazy Kerouac
Good reading. Oh, the flash backs of coffee houses, beat niks, apple pie, and backgammon.
Good format. Love the hardback. It's a good size for the backpack.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
On the Road is one of the best books I've read. Glad I finally picked up this copy. Some really good works all in one.
... Read more

7. Big Sur
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 256 Pages (1992-06-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140168125
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Coming down from his carefree youth and unwanted fame, Jack Kerouac undertakes a mature confrontation of some of his most troubling emotional issues: a burgeoning problem with alcoholism, addiction, fear, and insecurity. He dutifully records his ever-changing states of consciousness, which culminate in a powerful religious experience. Big Sur was written some time after Jack Kerouac's best-known works, following a visit to northern California and the first feelings of midlife crisis. Kerouac stayed for several weeks in a cabin in Big Sur, California, and with friends in San Francisco. Upon returning home, he wrote this account in a two-week period. Critic Richard Meltzer referred to Big Sur as Kerouac's 'masterpiece, and one of the great, great works of the English language.' ... Read more

Customer Reviews (46)

4-0 out of 5 stars Down The HIll
As I have explained in another entry in this space in a DVD review of the film documentary "The Life And Times Of Allen Ginsberg", recently I have been in a "beat" generation literary frame of mind. I think it helps to set the mood for commenting on Jack Kerouac's lesser work under review here, "Big Sur", that it all started last summer when I happened to be in Lowell, Massachusetts on some personal business. Although I have more than a few old time connections with that now worn out mill town I had not been there for some time. While walking in the downtown area I found myself crossing a small park adjacent to the site of a well-known mill museum and restored textile factory space. Needless to say, at least for any reader with a sense of literary history, at that park I found some very interesting memorial stones inscribed with excerpts from a number of his better known works dedicated to Lowell's `bad boy', the "king of the 1950s beat writers".

And, just as naturally, when one thinks of Kerouac then, "On The Road", his classic modern physical and literary `search' for the meaning of America for his generation which came of age in post-World War II , readily comes to mind. No so well known, however, is the fact that that famous youthful novel was merely part of a much grander project, an essentially autobiographical exposition by Kerouac in many volumes starting from his birth in 1922, to chart and vividly describe his relationship to the events, great and small, of his times. The series, of which the book under review, "Big Sur", bears the general title "The Legend Of Duluoz". So that is why we today, in the year of the forty anniversary of Kerouac's death, are under the sign of "Big Sur".

The action of this novel, a relatively short narrative expression of Kerouac's now famous spontaneous writing style, takes place in San Francisco and along California's central coastline at Big Sur. Kerouac was there as a self-imposed retreat by him after the whirlwind of `success" of his major work "On The Road" in 1957 and the media's subsequent proclamation of him as "King of The Beats". Along the way he talks about the trials and tribulations surrounding his losing fight against alcoholism, his paranoias, his attempts to dry out, and his patterned misadventures, with and without women, mainly as a desperate response to the pressures and other problems associated with his new found, but not necessarily wanted, fame,

I have mentioned, in a DVD review of the excellent film documentary "What Happened To Kerouac?" that part of Kerouac's "fall from grace" was using so much youthful autobiographical material composed, in retrospect, of basically similar experiences that there was only so much that the market could bear, especially the volatile youth market that would make up the mass base of his audience. That factor and the intense media blitz to single out the ONE authentic voice of the "beats", his (because he was articulate, at least in the beginning, and handsome in a very television camera-friendly way unlike some of the other wild boys), for which his whole prior personal history left him ill-equipped. In any case he came crashing down.

"Big Sur" is, to my mind, an almost tragically self-conscious literary expression of that fall. And here the points just made really come into play. Sure, there is plenty of Kerouac introspective, some of it very perceptive as always. Of course, there will be plenty of evocative word play, be-bop feeling and other literary tidbits that add to our stock of literary language (including as an addendum, a poem/ranting/ocean sound bite- "Sea" (Sounds Of The Pacific Ocean At Big Sur). Naturally,as well, the cast of characters include a round-up of the usual suspects like Neal Cassady (here under the name Cody), his wife, his mistress, assorted lumpen-proletarian types and the literary West Coast "beats" that have peopled his previous works. But that is exactly the problem. These are no longer the poster boys of the post-World War II cultural scene. Pranks, misadventures, pratfalls and, oh yes, their Kerouac literary presentation as the voice of the "beats" don't age well as the characters age. Cassady, at least partially, was able to adjust to the new winds blowing in the 1960s. Kerouac could not, or would not. Here is the simplest way I can put it- "On The Road" I NEEDED to read at one long sitting, "Big Sur" I took at small samples over a few days. Jack, I think, knew that was where he was, I now know it and you will too.

5-0 out of 5 stars another printed masterpiece from the mind of kerouac
How many authors can write a book that you can read off and on and go back to without having to go back and reread. Great for busy people

5-0 out of 5 stars Destruction of a Visionary
Big Sur is the most mournful and tragic Jack Kerouac novel that I have yet read, and surprisingly, it is also his most focused.Though it lacks the sheer exhilaration of On the Road or The Dharma Bums, it makes up for it with poignant and beautiful insight into the author's inescapable depression and rejection of everything he once praised.Big Sur is definitely not the place to start reading Kerouac, but if you are already familiar with his earlier works, it is an absolutely necessary chapter in the saga of his life.

Reading Kerouac's bibliography and understanding where each novel fits into the story of his life can be a little tricky, because there are three dates that you need to keep in mind for each work.First is the period that the events in the novel actually took place, second the time that Kerouac wrote these events down, and third the date that his novel was published.Big Sur was published very shortly after it was written, mostly due to the author's recently achieved literary fame.On the Road, on the other hand, was written nearly a decade before it was published, and revised continually in the interim.Desolation Angels contains events before those in Big Sur, but was published (and partially written) several years afterwards.Before reading Big Sur, it is helpful to have first read On the Road, The Dharma Bums, and Desolation Angels (presumably in that order) to have a good understanding of the arc of Kerouac's life.It is probably also rewarding to read smaller works like The Subterraneans and Tristessa somewhere in the middle there, as their events also bear influence on the storytelling cycle as a whole, but I have not yet had the opportunity to do so.

Anyway, getting back to Big Sur itself: it might be a bit off-putting to hear so many people describe it as "heartbreaking" and "tragic."But this should not deter you from reading.The novel isn't one huge downer, but a slow unfolding (almost elegant) descent into madness, written by a man who by any measure should be at the peak of his success.Kerouac is never bitter about the way his life has turned out, but retains a sort of Buddhist calm in his recollection of the whirlwind events.I don't want to give anyway anything that happens in the plot, suffice to say that Kerouac begins the story with a peaceful retreat to a cabin in the Big Sur canyon, and tries every which was he can to escape the crushing weight of his depression and disillusionment.

The only weak part of the novel for me was the appended poem "Sea."It starts out interesting enough, capturing the physical sensations of sitting and watching the surf and the mythic wonderment with the idea of the sea itself.But it meanders a little too long for me---maybe I am just not a fan of Kerouac's poetry.All together, a solid 4.5 star book, and an essential read for Kerouac enthusiasts.

4-0 out of 5 stars Like Watching a Train Wreck in Slow Motion
Jack Kerouac's BIG SUR(1961) is like watching a train wreck in slow motion... horrible, but you just can't help yourself from watching... in Jack's case, he writes about the lead-up to, and actual experience of, a nervous breakdown - obviously caused by excessive booze binges.

In 1960, Jack Kerouac was a man who basically had it all - his hit book ON THE ROAD(1957) inspired and defined the "Beat Generation"... but, at 40 years old, Jack has trouble keeping up the "bohemian" lifestyle.He arranges to cross the USA by train from back East, and seek refuge from his drinking bouts in a freind's cabin in Big Sur.After an initial booze binge on arrival to San Francisco, Jack actually does make it out to the cabin alone, and actually finds the peace and sober living he had initially wanted to find... but Jack begins to get bored, and finds his way back to SF, were he starts back on his old wild ways - but, it eventually catches up to him back at the Big Sur cabin, where he has brought the party... Jack writes about his paranoid delusions, DTs, etc. as he begins to come down off the booze after a two-week bender.This book was a preview of the end of Jack's life - he died 7 years later, of internal bleeding brought on by years of chronic alcohol abuse.

I've also lead a somewhat bohemian lifestyle (although apparently much less so, as compared to Jack Kerouac), and have been gradually cutting back on the partying for a few years now, and now that I'm 48 - one-year-older than Kerouac when he died - I finally felt OK about reading BIG SUR, which I've been wanting to read for years, but which kind of scared me to pick up, because ON THE ROAD kind of lead me down some wrong paths over the years... Now, for those of you who have wondered (like I did) whether this book would help or hurt one who is trying to get away from "the bohemian experience" - I say that it definately helped in my case (a weekend bohemian).

This is a good book, and a quick read.It is written in Jack's "classic" stream of conscienceness style.There really isn't a lot about Big Sur, other than the little valley Jack stays in... if you want to know more about Big Sur, it really can only be understood if you see it for yourself... but, be prepared to spend lots of money... I, luckily, was able to experience the area for one night on a side trip that my company had paid me to take to the area to deliver equipment to Monterey -- I actually got them to foot the bill for the small cabin I was able to find -- the last one in town!I managed to stay mostly out of trouble on my short visit to this "magic" corner of the Earth.

5-0 out of 5 stars My 2nd favorite Kerouac novel
This is a story of a trip to the "woods" that was taken in hopes of straightening out a hoplessly fouled up life. While it has the complete opposite feel than the optimism of the Dharma Bums, it is like a continuation of the same story, after life has had it's way with the story teller. Although some people feel that Kerouac lost his abilities toward the latter part of his career. I believe this book shows that he did not. While I preferred the Dharma Bums, This would rank as my second favorite Kerouac "novel".

... Read more

8. On the Road (Essential Penguin)
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 304 Pages (1998-09-03)
list price: US$14.23 -- used & new: US$5.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140274154
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Sal Paradise, a young innocent, joins the slightly crazed Dean Moriarty on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfillment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac's exhilarating novel defined the new 'Beat' generation. It had tremendous impact on both sides of the Atlantic and made him famous overnight. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars a good read
This book has inspired my 14 year old son to read more and
try his hand at poetry as well as explore other religions

The book came very quickly and was in good condition
It is a classic and a good depiction of
"the beat generation life style" for those who
were born well after the fact.... :)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great road novel, started the beat generation
Great book, fast moving, way ahead of its time. The book describes the travels of a young man through the USA, shortly after the war. Written on one long sheet of paper and within in three weeks, its speed and impact changed a generation. Even now great stuff to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars What's Your Road, Man?
Before there were Hippies or Yuppies, it was hip to be "Beat".The generation of writers, poets, artists, and musicians living Bohemian lifestyles, yearning for knowledge,and enjoying life to it's fullest.

"On The Road",a novel based on Kerouac's own travels, follows the adventures of the life loving Sal Paradise and the complex Dean Moriarity as they criss-cross North America, usually broke, trying to find themselves. They experience life, and lifestyles new to them and savor every moment. Every colorful character they encounter touches their lives in some way, and adds greatly to this story. Kerouac's zest for life and love of people becomes apparent and is contagious.His wonderful descriptive phrases leave you with fabulous images of the people, the places, and the times.I often found myself smiling or even laughing out loud.

It's a story that captures and preserves on it's pages the essence of the "beat generation" and is so engrossing, you may lose track of all time. And for those that love Kerouac's words and can't get enough,you can take him with you! This book is also available on an unabridged CD -On The Road CDwith a reading that will give you an even deeper appreciation of these wonderful characters,one that brings them to life.Actor Matt Dillon,captures every delicious moment as if he was Kerouac himself.For details on the audio editions - see my review.

With every read, I have a great time, and wish I was there!

"What's your road, man?"....enjoy...Laurie

5-0 out of 5 stars A detailed look at post war America .
While there are many labels associated with the group of individuals known as the " Beat Generation", it is hard to ignore the eloquence and unique style of some of its greatest writers . Among these is Jack Kerouac. In his most famous work Kerouac sharply follows the seemingly aimless wanderings of the main character, and by doing so describes the characteristic of a nation. It is not a hard task to find a part of one's self in this novel's cast of characters.
One reason for" On the Road" 'sendurance is its ability to capture the emotion and motives of the youth in a war weary nation.
... Read more

9. On the Road (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century)
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 304 Pages (1999-06-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$7.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140283293
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Follows the counterculture escapades of members of the Beatgeneration as they seek pleasure and meaning while traveling coast to coast.Amazon.com Review
On The Road, the most famous of Jack Kerouac's works,is not only the soul of the Beat movement and literature, but one ofthe most important novels of the century. Like nearly all of Kerouac'swriting, On The Road is thinly fictionalized autobiography,filled with a cast made of Kerouac's real life friends, lovers, andfellow travelers. Narrated by Sal Paradise, one of Kerouac'salter-egos, On the Road is a cross-country bohemian odysseythat not only influenced writing in the years since its 1957publication but penetrated into the deepest levels of American thoughtand culture. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (651)

1-0 out of 5 stars I'm annoyed
I thought I was ordering the actual book, because Amazon had it listed as "used" under the book title "On the Road," without differentiating it, but when I received the book, I realized it wasn't the book. It was the literature notes. Be warned: sometimes you think you're buying the book but you're not. Anyone interested in buying the literature notes from me?

3-0 out of 5 stars REVIEW
* "Each generation has habits that annoy the generation that came before it. When I witness the attacks on young men wearing their pants low, I have to remind my peers about how our generation wore pants backward along with fat untied shoe laces. On the Road is a novel about a group of people in an ealier generation. Jack Kerouac takes us along on a journey with a bunch of slackers as they move from state to state, job to job, and partner to partner, leaving behind bastard children. If someone tries to make you feel guilty about your generation's ills by saying how it was in their day, tell them to read Kerouac's On the Road. " Chronicles of a Preacherman

1-0 out of 5 stars Wasted Journey
Mr. Wonderful Non-Conformist Kerouac has ironically fathered a nation of conformist slacker lemmings who all bow down and worship at his feet. This book is good for one thing - keep a copy in the bathroom for when the TP runs out and you don't have a replacement roll nearby.

2-0 out of 5 stars not for me
I have never liked this book. I've read it three times, two of which were for class, and I think I actually like it less every time I read it. I find the content interesting, but the writing style just does not appeal to me. I certainly appreciate Kerouac's originality in terms of style, but I don't personally enjoy it. It annoys me the way that it rambles on and on. The beginning of the novel rambles and moves slow, but by the end the story just abruptly finishes. I just don't find it enjoyable to read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Classic?
I heard this book was a classic but I thought it was rather boring and did not finish it which never happens. ... Read more

10. The Dharma Bums (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 224 Pages (2006-10-31)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.83
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143039601
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Dharma Bums was published one year after On the Road made Jack Kerouac a celebrity and a spokesperson for the Beat Generation. Sparked by his contagious zest for life, the novel relates the adventures of an ebullient group of Beatnik seekers in a freewheeling exploration of Buddhism and the search for Truth. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

1-0 out of 5 stars The Kindle version costs more than the paperback
As of this review, the Kindle edition cost $12.99 and the paperback cost $10.88 - or over $2 more expensive for a digital version that actually saves the publisher money. I actually enjoy Dharma Bums, but Penguin should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for this. I wanted to reread this on my Kindle, but Penguin has decided to screw the readers who keep its business afloat. I'll be sure to keep this in mind for future purchases.

Also, for those who will bash my review, the cost of the book is an essential to the value proposition of a book. There are constant bad reviews for publishers that break up short story collection and sell them individually for the price of an individual book. This is no different. Penguin wants me to spend nearly $300 for a Kindle and a case so that they can charge me more for books, all while they save money on production costs??? You've got to be joking!

3-0 out of 5 stars On the road to mediocrity
The book starts off well with Kerouac meeting a young student of Zen Buddhism called Japhy Ryder and the two decide to climb the Matterhorn. I've been out to the Sierras myself and enjoyed the descriptions of the scenery, it reminded me of my time up there, sleeping in the forest, waking up in my sleeping bag covered in snow. It's really beautiful writing, and the story (a rarity for Kerouac, having a story) rushes forwards. There's also a nice buildup with Kerouac hopping freights, sleeping on beaches under the stars, etc. It's what makes Kerouac the writer he is. Kerouac, Ryder and Ginsberg have some nice back and forths debating poetry. Ginsberg's cynicism of Buddhism makes for an interesting and funny debate.

After the Matterhorn episode though, around page 80, the story is basically told. Kerouac has no idea how to progress the remaining 100 pages. I guess the point of the book was to talk about Buddhism but I never felt Kerouac was a serious student of it. Buddhism promotes abstinence of sex, drugs, drinking, all of which Kerouac partakes of frequently. He's like a lot of people I know who are into Buddhism - they take the parts they like and pretend they're the real thing. They're not, and neither is Kerouac.

Unfortunately, Kerouac's writing becomes even more meandering as he rambles on with pseudo-profound writing. Here's an actual quote which he thinks is enlightening: "Form is emptiness and emptiness is form and we're here forever in one form or another which is empty". See what I mean? And this goes on for 100 pages!
"On the Road" wasn't as revelatory to me as it was to some of my friends. It was disjointed, a bit annoying, not nearly as clever or interesting as it thought it was and ultimately quite boring. 10 years later, I decide to give him another try with "Dharma Bums" and initially I thought it was going to be great. What happened was that Kerouac's enthusiasm and naivety got in the way of the writing.

It would be too easy to type down passages from the book that shows how shallow the book's attempts at mysticism are or how Kerouac's writing makes him sound like a wide eyed innocent and inexperienced 13 year old from the country setting foot in the city for the first time. Suffice it to say, if you didn't like "On the Road" you won't like this. Nor will you if you are a student of Buddhism. If you like Kerouac or are 15 years old, you'll probably get a kick out of this.

I should mention the highlight of this edition was Jason's drawings. The front and back have brilliant drawings and he includes two comic strips on the inside flaps that are just great. Look up Jason's graphic novels, he is one of the best cartoonists around.

5-0 out of 5 stars ...THE BOOK THAT RUINED MY LIFE!!!!!..........!
...This is the book that saved me from a career in Accounting!....after reading this at 17...
I took off on my first hitch-hiking trip, adventured some (then some!), lost my virginity, got
published in the poetry rags.....and haven't looked back since!....hell, I'm still reading the damn thing
30 years later!.....like I said, THE BOOK THAT RUINED MY LIFE!.....praise the LORD!.....

4-0 out of 5 stars The West is the best
Rereading the Dharma Bums after probably a ten-year hiatus, I am struck by how foreign the beatniks seem to us today and how that impression must have been magnified tenfold for the Leave It To Beaver folks whom we are told ran the country back in the fifties.Then again Ray, Kerouac's protagonist, hitchhiked back and forth across America and found a surprising degree of tolerance if not admiration from the people stopping to give him a ride.Maybe that's just the nature of people on the move or maybe America wasn't really 100% homogenous like the beats and the flower children who followed them claimed.

It would do "the kids today" good to read this book.I'll wager at least half of them won't get past the poetic language with which Kerouac writes his alleged prose.For the texting generation, Kerouac might as well be Shakespeare.A quick read fails to fully appreciate the music in his words.Slow down and enjoy.

For those willing to embrace this new language, a world governed by thought, belief, emotion, experience, appreciation for nature and attention to basic human needs is unveiled; a world plunked down in the midst of the newborn consumer-driven American society governed by brands, advertising, the lure of "convenience," and the first hesitant salvos of pop culture.Kerouac's characters are as well-versed in Buddhism as the Middle America folks they meet are fluent in Christianity.For an introduction to American Zen Buddhism as it emerged in the beat culture of the fifties and early sixties, read Alan Watt's The Way of Zen The Way of Zen and then read The Dharma Bums, looking up and studying every reference to Buddhism you don't understand.It's on my list of things to do, along with hiking to Desolation Peak.If you ever listened to the Doors and didn't understand why Jim Morrison sang "the West is the best," read The Dharma Bums and then Steinbeck's Cannery RowCannery Row: (Centennial Edition), and you'll begin to see, if not agree.It wouldn't have broken my heart if the last half of the book had been devoted to Ray's two months on Desolation Peak instead of just the last ten pages, but his adventures hitch-hiking, sitting in his family's woods, sleeping beneath the stars and eucalyptus trees, and riding the rails on the Midnight Ghost are worth every page devoted to them.Only Shot At A Good Tombstone

5-0 out of 5 stars Favorite
Liked this more than On the Road. Has a completely different feel. One of my favorite reads. ... Read more

11. Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 224 Pages (2009-10-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143116010
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Jack Kerouac's profound meditations on the Buddha's life and religion

In the mid-1950s, Jack Kerouac, a lifelong Catholic, became fascinated with Buddhism, an interest that had a significant impact on his ideas of spirituality and later found expression in such books as Mexico City Blues and The Dharma Bums. Originally written in 1955 and now published for the first time in paperback, Wake Up is Kerouac's retelling of the life of Prince Siddhartha Gotama, who as a young man abandoned his wealthy family and comfortable home for a lifelong search for enlightenment. Distilled from a wide variety of canonical scriptures, Wake Up serves as both a penetrating account of the Buddha's life and a concise primer on the principal teachings of Buddhism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars Flow of Consiousness, Spellbinding Writing
"Wake Up" is Jack Kerouac's biography of the Buddha cum study of Buddhist teaching.The writing style is typical Kerouac, a non-stop stream of consciousness.Kerouac does an excellent job of seamlessly blending details of the life of Prince Siddartha Gotama, the original Buddha, with his first person teaching.Much of the book consists of the Buddha instructing his followers and, through the pages, us.

As I was going through this book I was comparing it to other works with which I am familiar.At times, the concepts of selflessness bring to mind the tenets of Christianity. At other times, the repetitive nature of the Buddha's teaching is reminiscent of "Gilgamesh."I found this book to be an attention holding introduction into the nature and teachings of Buddhism.I found it an interesting way to learn, but did not find much to recommend itself in that religion. I think that the most attractive facet of this book is Kerouac's writing, the constant flow from one thought to another, always entrancing, always holding your interest.I find that Kerouac's writing (see my Amazon review of "On The Road") to be spellbinding!For that I recommend this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Beatnik Version of Buddha
Many passages of this short book are beautiful, striking and poetic.Kerouac was sincerely impressed and inspired by the Buddha and WAKE UP was his meditation on the life and example of Buddha.For that alone, I would call this an important book.

For someone seeking information, it falls woefully short.Kerouac has written a poetic version of Buddha stitched together from various uncited sutras. There is a long philosophical discussion in the middle with Buddha instructing his disciple Ananda which seems murky as if Kerouac was copying from a translation he didn't completely understand.Also, Kerouac's subsequent career and life showed that he was not practicing Buddhism in a practical sense.His assertions about what he perceived Buddhism to be should be taken with a grain of salt.

After reading several scholarly biographies of the Buddha, the poetic stream of consciousness style that Kerouac adopted was very refreshing. One needs to read this book when in the mood for a mystical turn of mind and enjoy the poetic gems that swim to the surface.On the negative side, stream-of-consciousness does not lead to greater coherence when discussing obtruse philosophical points.
For a better explication of the philosophy, I'd recommend THE BUDDHA SAID by Osho.

Ultimately, this book may be interesting and valuable for people who are interested in a better understanding of Kerouac, and as a landmark point in the development of American Buddhism.

4-0 out of 5 stars Challenging and concentrated, may not be for absolute beginners
My last Amazon post reviewed "The Dharma Bums," so I pair this 1955-penned, 2008-published meditation. It collates a somewhat stilted, often moving, distilled version filtered through Kerouac's own practice of Buddhist "Law," as he puts it, or truth-teaching. It's a serious, intense series of reflections, not of the author himself, but as a transparent medium transmitting the Buddha and his core dharma 2,500 years later. It certainly mirrors the author's own awareness, at the height of his immersion; Japhy in "DB" warns that "Ray" will revert to his Catholicism on his drunken deathbed. Who's to say that his childhood faith is not incompatible with his love of Buddhism?

Robert Thurman thinks the two outlooks can be reconciled. A pioneering Western-born exponent of Tibetan Buddhism, he's a child of the Beat generation. His thoughtful introduction argues that we need not regard Jack as macho-bullish as Gary Snyder-"Japhy Ryder" in an uncompromising Zen attitude; we also need not assume Kerouac, comfortable with both Jesus and the Buddha, rejected his Christianity in the way Thurman did, at 17, when reading "Dharma Bums," renouncing Protestantism, and running away from Phillips Exeter Academy! He proposes that Kerouac found himself able, as a Catholic, to relate to the rich panoply of Tibetan or Mahayana forms of Buddhism more easily than the austerities of Zen. Thurman excerpts a lot of key passages, but as a previous reviewer states, these alert us to the importance and eloquence of these learned citations when they appear in the text.

As largely a newcomer to such topics, I found JK's summation of overcoming the Hindu "Atman" concept of an Oversoul intriguing: "all of it a mind-made mess, much as a dreamer continues his nightmare on purpose hoping to extricate himself from the frightful difficulties that he doesn't realize are only in his mind." (20) This fits the urgency of the title: "All is empty forever, wake up!" (68) that permeates the whole text. Here the "dharma bums" and "Zen lunatics" of his novel turn into their inspirations, "bhikshus" or wandering holy men following Gotama after he finds enlightenment and turns himself after long struggle into the historical Buddha.

As with the Gospels, the narrative combines dusty journeys with elevated preaching. It demands that you focus on intricate perspectives. Kerouac himself's absent as a character. He erases his presence so as to direct us towards the dharma's insight. The story ends beautifully; some of the Buddha's last inspiring words: "From the 'desiring-little' we find the way of true deliverance; desiring true freedom we ought to practice the contentment of 'knowing-enough.'" (141) Kerouac knows enough to stay out of the way of his subject!

It's an erudite presentation. For instance, cadences summing up how mental ignorance gives rise within us to endless cycles of trapped karma: "a sentient being's inheritance, the womb which bears him out of it, the womb to which he or it must resort; Karma is the root of morality, for, what we have been makes us what we are now. If a man becomes enlightened, stops, and realizes perfect wisdom and enters Nirvana, it is because his Karma had worked itself out and it was in his Karma to do so; if a man goes on in ignorance, angry, foolish and greedy, it is because his Karma had not yet worked it out and it was in his Karma to do so." (28-9)

For me, this played into the stereotype that many entertain of a fatalistic Eastern acceptance of one's destiny, but I may be wrong. Kerouac as a practitioner may have been reflecting his sources with far more insight than I possess. Either way, these ideas do test our Western mind, our notions of good and evil, reward and merit, predestination and free will, guilt and justice! [Buddhism also challenges our ideas of what an ethical philosophy can achieve, not an "-ism," but a moral system freed of gods and Hindu contexts that probably the Buddha himself, agnostic Stephen Batchelor argues in his existentialist "Buddhism Without Beliefs," was not entirely free of, being a messenger to/for/from his own time and place!]

Ananda plays the straight man, respectfully posing the questions that the Buddha elucidates. Still, wisdom proves elusive. "Ananda stood dazed hoping for a clearer interpretation of this instruction in the kind and gentle tones of the Master and he waited with a pure and expectant heart." (81) You may sympathize with Ananda's confusion as the Buddha by Socratic dialogue in the Shurangama Sutra tries to define the essential non-existence of one's own mind within, rather than apart from, a universal essence of mind! We mistake delusion for reality, but discrimination eludes facile phrasing. "They concentrate on the dream instead of the Mind that makes it." (82)

Our imperative: to recover free from grasping desire in "the two illusions of appearing and disappearing" (124) the "reality of the Shining Emptiness that is Essence of Mind." (107) Compared with eternal perception, the rest is "puppet-shows and racing up and down the Buddha-mountain." (122) If this sounds like gibberish, take the hundred pages preceding again and start over! I found the Seven Elements explanation easier than that of the six senses. The book's full of not superficial glimmers into truth but loaded with weighty ore that demands refinement and transformation out of this "Sea of Mystery" into gold-- or "Diamond Knowledge."

It's usually slow going; the nature of the dense, compressed material creates a weighty if slim volume. However, one editorial shortcoming, thus my subtracted star. This text lacks what would have enriched its usefulness to a wider audience, embracing Beat admirers probably more than Buddhist adepts. Take "the ten quarters of the universes," or "the realms of Tusita." Such terms need a glossary. Many Sanskrit terms Kerouac copies faithfully but these lack easy familiarity or quick recall for Westerners. Also, analogies such as "imaginary blossoms" and "morbid mist" regarding essential perception vs. that of the senses stayed for me rather obscure, despite the patience of the Buddha with Ananda and Kerouac's earnest reiteration of their recondite conversation. Footnotes or endnotes would have helped the general reader's perception of intricate concepts in a foreign language. Make no mistake: this is tough going for anyone who reads this sobering discourse carefully.

I'd recommend this for contemplative reading and patient reflection-- perhaps after finishing the four books mentioned below. The archaic tone forces you into a fresh reception to its philosophical instruction, conveyed in a folkloric or antiquated manner. The King James Version-cadences highlight the venerable registers of Kerouac's sources as he studied them-- translated into probably high-Church diction-- but their depth also slowed me down, pressuring me to concentrate on the necessity where "a sentient being sees the Light that was previously obscured by his brain as moon by cloud." (100) Thus, verily I say unto thee, regard this not as revelation to be taken within thy mind neither with lightness nor levity.

(P.S. This primer compliments Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse's "What Makes You 'Not' a Buddhist, Damien Keown's "Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction," Karen Armstrong's"Buddha" [Penguin Lives], and Thubten Chodron's "Open Heart, Clear Mind," all reviewed by me on Amazon.)

5-0 out of 5 stars Kerouac's Biography of the Buddha
In the early 1950s, Jack Kerouac (1922 -- 1969)became fascinated with Buddhism.In 1955, he wrote this short, highly personalized biography of the Buddha, "Wake Up". The biography was serialized in 1993 in the Buddhist magazine "Tricycle" but it has never before appeared in book form. The book was published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Kerouac's most overtly Buddhist novel, "The Dharma Bums" which has also appeared in a new commemorative edition this year.

"Wake up" is a small gem. The writing is a passionate mixture of Kerouac and Buddhist texts. The book shows fervor and commitment and explains what Kerouac found valuable in Buddhism. The Buddha is treated as almost an Asian equivalent of Jesus. Kerouac never left the Catholicism in which he was raised. He was among the first of a long generation of Americans that have tried to combine the insights of the Buddha with a western religion.

For an American in the 1950s Kerouac had read widely if unsystematically in Buddhism. Thus this biography draws on texts from different Buddhist traditions which are not fully consistent with each other. In much of the book, Kerouac drew on a book called "The Buddhist Bible" in which an earlier American writer, Dwight Goddard, who likewise was attracted to both Buddhism and Christianity, translated some basic Buddhist texts. Kerouac had great problems with alcohol, drugs, and sex througout his life. As often is the case, the writer was wiser than the man. "Wake up" evidences an excellent lay understanding of the Buddhism which so inspired Kerouac. While this book is introductory, informal and nonscholarly, Kerouac had a sympathetic grasp of his subject.

Kerouac describes the purpose of his book at the outset: "I have designed this to be a handbook of the ancient Law. The purpose is to convert." But this, Kerouac meant to transform the reader by showing the life-changing character of Buddhist teachings.

Here is how Kerouac begins his biography.

"Buddha means the awakened one.Until recently most people thought of Buddha as a big fat rococo sitting figure with his belly out, laughing, as represented in millions of tourist trinkets and dime store statuettes here in the western world... This man was no slob-like figure of mirth , but a serious and tragic prophet, the Jesus Christ of India and almost all Asia." (p7) Kerouac describes how the Buddha grew disillusioned with his life of luxury, his dancing girls, and even his lovely wife when, at the age of 29, he was confronted with the facts of aging, sickness and death.He left the life of a prince and became a wanderer in search of understanding human suffering for the purpose of alleviating it.

Kerouac loosely follows the story of Buddha's life, focusing upon his Englightenment experience six years after his wandering began. The Englightenment is described in a mixture of Buddhist texts and Kerouac's inimitable prose. As Kerouac describes it in part:

"Ho there! Wake up! the river in your dream may seem pleasant, but below it is a lake with rapids and crocodiles, the river is evil desire, the lake is the sensual life, its waves are anger, its rapids are lust, and the crocodiles are the women-folk."(p44) Earlier, Kerouac quotes an "eminent writer" who said that in looking for the cause of human unhappiness Gotama had "sought for it in man and nature, and found it not, and lo! it was in his own heart!" (p.21)

Kerouac leads the reader through the Buddha's ministry, his disciples, and his teachings including the famous "fire sermon" with a focus on the difficult Buddhist teachings of dependent origination and emptiness, which he explains well. Near the end of the book, Kerouac offers a long metaphysical discussion of the nature of reality and emptiness based upon a text known as the Surangama Sutra, which Kerouac knew from the translation in Goddard. The book closes with a Sutra-based account of the Buddha's death in which Kerouac writes

"The moon paled, the river sobbed, a mental breeze bowed down the trees.".... Voluntarily enduring infinite trials through numberless ages and births, that he might deliver mankind and all life, foregoing the right to enter Nirvana and casting himself again and again into Sangsara's stream of life and destiny for the sole purpose of teaching the way of liberation from sorrow and suffering, this is Buddha who is everyone and everything." (pp 145-146)

The book features an introduction by the noted American Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman which discusses Kerouac's understanding of Buddhism as it appears in "Wake Up" and in "The Dharma Bums" and which explores Kerouac's understanding of the relationship between Buddhism and the Catholicism to which he was born.

Readers interested in Buddhism or in Kerouac will enjoy this little-known book.

Robin Friedman

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Description of Buddha and Buddhism
This is the first Jack Kerouac book that I have ever read, so I am not a follower of his.However, I have read many books on Buddhism, and this is one of the best.It covers the story of Buddha's life and his enlightened teachings in concise, but rich language, much of which is attributed to direct quotes from the Buddha.So even though this book is from a "famous" writer, its value is the remarkable story of the Buddha and his beliefs, and the author's writing skill comes through, but not the writer's beliefs, which aids the clarity of the presentation.

A bonus here is the long introduction (22 pages) by noted American Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman.His writing is almost "a book within a book" and points out some key passages in the text, that then become more meaningful when you see them in the body of the book.

This book will be a treasure to any spiritual seeker. ... Read more

12. Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 480 Pages (2006-04-04)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.37
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143036068
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Jack Kerouac is best known through the image he put forth in his autobiographical novels. Yet it is only his private journals, in which he set down the raw material of his life and thinking, that reveal to us the real Kerouac. In Windblown World, distinguished Americanist Douglas Brinkley has gathered a selection of journal entries from the most pivotal period of Kerouac’s life, 1947 to 1954. Here is Kerouac as a hungry young writer finishing his first novel while forging crucial friendships with Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Neal Cassady. Truly a self-portrait of the artist as a young man, this unique and indispensable volume is sure to become an integral element of the Beat oeuvre. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Quality
The book was received promptly, and came in great condition -- but at an even better price!!!!Thanks for making this experience unbelievable convenient, I searched around several sites and by far the best price and quality.

5-0 out of 5 stars Writing, Not Typing
Wow this book is really incredible. It's like diving into the soul of Kerouac before he decided he didn't want to have commas or periods. Mind you I like DR SAX and DESOLATION ANGELS and his other crazily spontaneous novels that had dashes instead of periods, but I gotta say, I enjoy ON THE ROAD and DHARMA BUMS, and this book is great because it's Kerouac writing in a style that is simple to read and you really get to see what a truly great writer and philosopher he was, and he shares a lot about the book he's writing TOWN AND THE CITY which is a masterpeice (a book that gets better the further you read). And how he is set apart from his friends. As talented as they were, including Ginsberg, in my opinion: Jack stood alone, and this book is all about that: standing alone.

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing publication after grandiose promises
Kerouac began keeping journals in 1936, and continued for the rest of his life. The journals survive and editor Brinkley, writing in The Atlantic Monthly in 1998, promised us publication of "a multi-volume edition." Now it seems that all we will be getting is this 370-page book, covering only some of the material from the years 1947 to 1950, and with just a few pages from 1954 thrown in as extra.

The parts that have been selected for inclusion are apparently aimed at demonstrating the development of Kerouac's first two major works, The Town & the City, and On the Road. Strange, then, that nothing from Kerouac's 1948-49 journal of work on the latter book is included, although some of it did appear as a taster in the extracts Brinkley selected for publication in The Atlantic Monthly in 1998. That must surely be one of the most relevant journals for those interested in the development of On the Road and its omission here is a mystery. (Note: Although not in the hardback edition, Kerouac's On the Road journal has been added as a "postscript" to the paperback edition of this book.) Other journal extracts published in Atlantic, and also in the New Yorker in 1998, are missing from the published book.

In his introduction, it seems to me that Brinkley places far too much emphasis on demolishing the "myth" that On the Road was frantically written in three weeks in April 1951, claiming that Kerouac had begun it much earlier. This may be news to Brinkley, but I'm sure that most Kerouac readers are already aware of that fact. They will have known it since Tim Hunt pointed out that Kerouac began working on the book in 1948, attempting at least five different versions over the next four years. Hunt published this information, with extracts from the earlier attempts, in his PhD thesis in 1975, and in his book, Kerouac's Crooked Road, in 1981.

There's no doubt that Kerouac DID write the version that eventually became the published On the Road in a three-week burst on a scroll of paper in April 1951. However, examination of the scroll reveals that it differs somewhat from the published version, with the insertion of material from his journals being added LATER, at a more leisurely pace, when Kerouac retyped it onto separate pages.

What we have in this volume makes fascinating reading, of course, and offers a little more insight into Kerouac's mind, and his working practices. Brinkley admits to editing the journals heavily in places, and also to mixing together parts from different journals, with no clear indication of the individual sources. The result of this can only be confusion.

This book has been six years in the making. I imagine that all Kerouac scholars and enthusiasts who have been waiting patiently for its appearance will need a copy, and will find the contents valuable. However, I do believe that an important opportunity has been missed to make this the truly outstanding work it could have been.

5-0 out of 5 stars Feel like I've known this good friend for years...
which leads me to think...am I Jack Kerouac incarnate???????

Well, when I read some of this incredible book, I am beginning to think so and am certain that Jack Kerouac and I are not very unlike. I love when Jack talks about his love for Dostoevsky, probably my idol novelist after finishing Crime and Punishment late last year. It's great how this book shows well that Jack was a very well read and intellegent philosophically minded man and how all this philosophizing distressed him. You really get the sense of being right there and witnessing the thought of a great mind.

Getting past that, Kerouac, in his journals gives us a view of the young struggling writer, agonizing over his work ethic finishing up his first published novel, The Town and the City. He even counts the words and you see entries near the beginning which start like, "2000 words in" and it really makes you think, was Jack trying to create a romanticized perception of himself for posterity, like Nietzsche? It certainly seems so.

Yet underneath all of that, these journals reveal Kerouac for what he was, a man. We see that when he is cut, he bleeds. I love his philosophical discourses on whatever is on his mind and his reasoning usually concludes with Christ so, of course you can't go wrong following that path.

The historical merit of this work is astounding, especially when it tells of events Kerouac would later fictionalize in On the Road and other novels.

If you've read On the Road, loved it like I have and would like to get a more personal understanding of the mind behind that timeless tale, check this one out. You will be very pleased you did.

I think this book changed me even further than On the Road.

5-0 out of 5 stars Philosophical, lighthearted, fascinating
This is one of the best books I've ever read.To read about Kerouac and his thoughts and his struggles as he tries to make it is thoroughly enjoyable.It's fun to listen as he ponders and have a look inside him as he tries to make a living writing.I couldn't put it down. ... Read more

13. Mexico City Blues: 242 Choruses
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 256 Pages (1994-01-12)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$8.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802130607
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Jack Kerouac, who died in 1969 at the age of forty-seven, is renowned as the father of the "beat generation." His eighteen internationally acclaimed books -- including "On the Road, Doctor Sax, The Subterraneans, " and "Lonesome Traveler" -- were important signpost in a new American literature. Here, in "Mexico City Blues, " his only collection of poetry, his voice is as distinctive as in his prose; it roams widely across continents and cultures in a restless search for meaning and expression, giving the verse the unique qualities found in America's most distinctive contribution to music.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Dropping names in rhythm
Good men who live have karma of a dove.It is 242 choruses, 242 poems.As is everything written by Kerouac, it is autobiographical.How can Mexico have a positive association in Beat history when William Burroughs killed his wife there in a William Tell experiment?Anything by Kerouac was edited and promoted by Allen Ginsberg and for that reason alone a book of poems with Mexico in the title is of interest.

Thinking of comfortable thoughts is what modern society has branded loafing is a line in one of the poems.Zen provides much of the impetus for the collection of poems.Kerouac's work manages to create an atmosphere of tropical vegetation and light.The work is free-form and jazz-like.

Automatic writing?Well, maybe not automatic writing precisely.Certainly the word-play and the fluidity remind the reader of Gertrude Stein.(Mention Gertrude Stein and here we are at chorus 31.)

I like the prose better, but I like the idea of the book and the arrangement.The Beats stood for blessedness and freedom.MEXICO CITY BLUES is an appropriate manifestation of Beat ideology.Fifty first Chorus says America is a permisible dream, a Whitmanesque expression.

This is a celebration of other people.I count Gregory Corso, William Carlos Williams, Oscar Wilde, Alexander Pope, Benjamin Franklin, William Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, the aforesaid Gertrude Stein, Charley Parker, Nin and Ma, Pa or Leo Alcide Kerouac, brother Gerard, Thurber, Baudelaire, Jolson, Miles, Sarah Vaughn, Chagall, Whitman, Melville, Mark Twain, Einstein, Plato, Moses, Aristotle, Joe Louis, Spinoza, James Huneker, Alfred Knopf, H.L. Mencken, David, Picasso, Jesus, Proust, Freud, Glenn Miller, Allen Ginsberg, St. Francis, Siddhartha, Virgin Mary.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great way to get into Kerouac's poetry
I have been a Kerouac fan for a long time, but it was a couple of years after reading most his novels that I was able to get into his poetry. "Pomes all sizes", for example, sat unread on my bookshelf for some time. "Mexico City Blues" is what really turned me on to his poetry and made me able to appreciate it. I was able to go back and read his other petry with new eyes.This book is fantastic.Read it out loud to yrself, the man had a natural knack for rhythm.Great book.

5-0 out of 5 stars One long, magnificent, riff of the written word....
I remember when I first stumbled across this book in the early 90's- it was like Christmas came twice that year. You see, I had thought that I had read absolutely everything published by Kerouac, prose and poem. I didn't know this existed, Wow! It is like one long, magnificent blues or jazz riff of the written word. It is a true blues composition because it has genuine soul. The more I think about it, it just might be the best thing that he ever did.
I know this is going to sound outrageous, but the only comparable book of American poetry I can even think of comparing this to would be Whitman's _Leaves of Grass_. Whitman and Kerouac both sang of the same grass roots, mystical, America. And it's still out there, if you shake your mind free of the preconceptions and the [junk]....

5-0 out of 5 stars Spontaneous Bop Prosody
It took me a while to get beyond the Beat myth and see these poems for what they are--some of the most joyful, goofy and affecting writings of the last century.Jack wrote all 242 choruses--one per notebook page--over six weeks in 1955.His improvised word-jazz was at its peak;the poems are fresh and spontaneous but rarely sloppy (try it yourself if you don't believe me).The Buddhist leanings are a little simple-minded, but simplicity is part of the point.In layout and verbal inventiveness Jack's more experimental than most poets writing today.He combines a love for made-up words and language as pure sound with a lyrical directness that you find more often in pop songs than modern poetry.Hearing Jack read some of these on the Steve Allen record made me realize how rare a thing his poems achieved: sentiment, experiment, tenderness, peace.A moving companion to On the Road.

5-0 out of 5 stars American Mexican Jazz Rumba..perfect cocktail..!!
a mix of cultures... musical styles.. not to say of alcohol, morphine,etc... Jack fell sick on his trip to Mexico city, and he's looking forhealing, salvation- i believe he found it, with all the shots of morphinehe received at the hospital , with the mexican pulque and tequilla , andother substances .. regardless it is a masterpiece of poetry. play some"bird" in the background and enjoy!

"And I am only anApache -- Smoking Ashy -- In Old Cabashy -- By the Lamp!" ... Read more

14. Good Blonde
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 232 Pages (2001-01-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0912516224
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In these uncollected writings Jack Kerouac portrays himself in his life. He hitches a ride to San Francisco with a blonde, goes on the road with photographer Robert Frank, rides bus through the Northwest and Montana, records the blues of an old Negro hobo, talks about the Beats and how it all began, gives his "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose" and defends his novel The Subterraneans, compares Shakespeare and James Joyce, describes the cafeterias and subways of Manhattan, goes to a ballgame and a prize fight, and reflects on Christmas in New England, on Murnau's Nosferatu, on jazz & bop, and tells us what he's thinking about.

Table of Contents

Walking to Eden
Optical Terror
The Impossible Genus
On Returning from Chiapas
Alphabets and Emperors
Optical Pleasure
Haunting by Water
Mapping Paris
The Monstrous and the Marvelous
The Death Cunt of Deep Dell
Books of Nature
A Dream
Manifesto in Voices

... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars three star bias
This is all great writing and a great collection of articles that Kerouac has written, the only problem being that if your like me and own "The Portable Jack Kerouac" you really don't need this book.....and I swear on that, more than 75 percent of Good Blonde is in The Portable Jack Kerouac
BUT....if you dont own that Portable book than by all means, get this book, wonderful edition to Kerouacs writing, small stories, opinions, sports, and Nasferutu are all covered topics........Excellent so long as you dont already own it.......

5-0 out of 5 stars Definitive Kerouac collection
This book gathers together some 44 individual pieces, the bulk of Kerouac's uncollected shorter prose, both fiction and non-fiction. The short stories, such as "Good Blonde" and "The Great Western Bus Ride" help fill in some gaps in the Duluoz Legend and are up to the usual high standard expected. But it is the factual pieces which, I suspect, will surprise many and cause a major re-evaluation of the writer's abilities.

Here the reader can find Kerouac's authoritative views on a whole range of different subjects, from Shakespeare to jazz, and from baseball to politics and Zen. One section contains Kerouac's three major essays, from the late '50s, on the Beat Generation, and these have to be the definitive statements on the subject. There are also sections on sport and writing, as well as the complete run of eleven "Last Word" columns that Jack contributed to Escapade magazine in 1959/60, covering his opinions on diverse matters. There's even Kerouac's short science fiction story "cityCityCITY", "On Céline," Jack's tribute to the French novelist, and a previously unpublished piece on his cat Tyke.

The book has a preface by fellow Massachusetts writer, Robert Creeley, whom Jack first met in San Francisco in 1956.

"Good Blonde & Others" is an invaluable collection of Kerouac's rarer, shorter pieces, and it is most useful to have them together and easily accessible between one set of covers for the first time.

3-0 out of 5 stars The good and the bad...
This book features works from across Kerouac's career and so, of course, has some good and some bad.When he uses sentance structure, he is great (Good Blonde), when he does the free form thing, he is not (almost the rest of the book).Only pick this up if you want to own everything by Kerouac.If you are a casual fan, stay away.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essays and Other Overlooked Briefs
Good Blonde and Others offers a wonderful collection of short essays andnewspaper columns on topics ranging from writing and the beat movement tosports and jazz. I have read many of Kerouac's novels and poetrycollections but this was the first opportunity I had to see him try sportswriting and science fiction. Although the former sparkles with histrademark enegergetic style the latter is more mundane and seemsoverly-influenced by Orwell's 1984 and the Lucas film THX1138. Nonethelessthis book is a must-read for all fans of the beats.

5-0 out of 5 stars a very over-looked jack kerouac book
though a very not-heard-of book, this is a very good book for any jack kerouac fan. it collects many articles written by him on the beat generation, himself, his writing principles.he discusses the beats andtheir origination. it is a very intersting book for any jack kerouac fanor anyone intersted in the beat generation,though he also talks abouthimself and looks back on old days of his life as a teen/young-adult.avery good book and i would definately recommend it. ... Read more

15. Tristessa
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 96 Pages (1992-06-01)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$6.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140168117
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars Criminally Overlooked Novel
When one hears of Kerouac - On the Road, Dharma Bums and his poetry are invariably brought up. Dont get me wrong, all three of those are excellent literary works and should be read. However if I were to pick my favorite and I think the deepest of the Kerouac novels I would pick this one. It explores the themes of true love in Kerouac's sad and spiritual style. This is simply Kerouac's best and probably one of the best modern American short novels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't we all have a Tristessa?
Kerouac is all creation and no craft, which is both frustrating and fantastic. I sit down and read something like Tristessa and wonder about the arrangement of ideas, what decisions Jack made when composing the story, and s*** like that. It's pointless though, because I don't think Kerouac could tell me even if we were sitting down and talking about it (and we were both alive). He said something in a letter that strikes me as his one and only basis for writing, saying "I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down." He's all emotion, and even in his earlier, more structured work he doesn't show much promise as an Updike or an Amis, though he deals with similar themes a lot of the time. As a writer, I want to figure it out and boil it down to craft.

Which is impossible.

So, I settle for merely loving his work. I bring this all up because, just as I was amazed by the completely bats*** crazy rambling f***pile that is On the Road and Big Sur, Tristessa is a huge mess that I can't help but love. Both the story and the girl, actually. Tristessa, the girl in the story, is a morphine addict that radiates and completely dominates, if only momentarily, Jack's thoughts. He's on some silly little celibacy vow, however, and he passes on the opportunity -- to paraphrase Tristessa herself -- to be friendly in the bed.

Though I feel that Jack has a sense of loss when Tristessa is pretty much out of his life, I have to wonder if he ever gets too connected to things in the first place. His life is a sieve, and he's always coming or going (burn burn burn, right?) one way or the other. He's too busy taking everything in and letting everything out that he doesn't have any time to get, grasp, and have. Does that make the story even more sad? Maybe so. Regardless, Tristessa is another classic Kerouac story as far as I'm concerned, because who hasn't had a Tristessa in his life? Has anyone gone through it all so far with no passed opportunities, no dissolution of reality, no irresistible woman who has no say in an empty future with(out) you? If you've made it through without meeting your Tristessa, sit down, crack open a Sue Grafton book and a Diet Fanta Grape, and go f*** yourself with the sound of life happening, echoing somewhere in the background.

5-0 out of 5 stars ...and the world doesn't seem so ugly anymore
In an interview on The Lehrer Report I heard Kerouac scholar Audrey Sprenger praise Jack Kerouac for being a profoundly disciplined writer who was brave enough to write his life. In her writings about Jack, I've gleaned another important twofold insight: that Jack's writings makes us both want to live our lives as adventures, and they encourage us to see our lives as something worth writing about.

I'm glad I discovered Audrey because she put words to things I've felt about Jack for a long time and simply couldn't express. And reading about her work inspired me to finish Tristessa last night.

Not that it was a hard book to finish, being only 96 pages - making it a novella, or perhaps a novelette, depending on which egghead one wishes to believe - and epitomizing Jack's spontaneous and fluid prose that sends the reader on a flume ride, sometimes fast sometimes slow but always flowing, even to the point of not caring if comprehension suffers for fear that getting out of the boat would interrupt the total experience of digging the ride.

In Tristessa, Jack writes his life in Mexico: prostitutes, junkies, disease, poverty, chickens in the house, crime, flea-ridden cats, pimps, squalor, drug dealers, hucksters - all juxtaposed against love, beauty, friendship, lust, spirituality, big questions, even rants against god (like the Cool Hand, like Lieutenant Day-un).

By the end you understand how you could live in abject poverty and fall in love with a drug-addicted, anorexic prostitute. Maybe more than that. Maybe by the end you fall in love with Tristessa.

And the world doesn't seem so ugly anymore.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not enlightening....
While I have great respect for Jack Kerouac, I am not all that impressed with his writing.I never really got into The Beat writers, although by all accounts I should have in late high school when I was interested in "automatic writing."That stream of consciousness, punctuation-less thought that comes from your mind when it can't quiet itself.I think I have the same assessment of many of the Beat writers and poets, and I did have the unique experience of going to City Lights Book Shop in San Fransisco, which is owned and run by one of the original Beat poets.I respect their art and their way of expressing it, but it never really hit me as anything profound.I enjoyed Tristessa some, but not as much as I was hoping I would.I had heard so much about Kerouac from my best friend, who loved On the Road, but I was never hooked.If you are interested in esoteric topics presented in slurred poetry then this is for you.I don't care much for some performance art, and much of what I have read from the Beats seems like a literary version of that.Perhaps I haven't read the right things, so I may not have a good grasp on them.I'll have to try and read some from William S. Burroughs.I hear he had some great books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tristessa
Tristessa by Jack Kerouac *****

Tristessa may just be the best thing Kerouac ever wrote. Yes I know On The Road was, and still is one of the greatest and most important books of all time, but I must say I don't think Kerouac ever felt what he wrote as much as he did when he wrote Tristessa. You can feel his heart aching in the literature, something that is very, very rare to find, but very rewarding when you do.

Tristessa follows a man in Mexico City, Mexico who is completely infatuated with a women named Tristessa who is a junky, to say the least. This tortured story follows these two along with a revolving door of assorted men, and her fellow girlfriends over the course of about a year and a half. These two love each other but the narrator can't bring himself to give into her because of her addictions and flighty ways, but he also is conflicted and can't leave her in this condition because he really does love her so, and her him.

This is a gut wrenching tail of love, loss, and not being able to let go. If this is not the most prolific thing Kerouac ever wrote it sure is close, and wins my pick for his best. ... Read more

16. Dr. Sax
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 245 Pages (1994-01-13)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$4.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802130496
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In this haunting novel of intensely felt adolescence, Jack Kerouac tells the story of Jack Duluoz, a French-Canadian boy growing up, as Kerouac himself did, in the dingy factory town of Lowell, Massachusetts. Dr. Sax, with his flowing cape, slouch hat, and insinuating leer, is chief among the many ghosts and demons that populate Jack's fantasy world. Deftly mingling memory and dream, Kerouac captures the accents and texture of his boyhood in Lowell as he relates Jack's adventures with this cryptic, apocalyptic hipster phantom. "Kerouac dreams of America in the authentic rolling rhythms of a Whitman or a Thomas Wolfe, drunk with eagerness for life." - John K. Hutchens; "Kerouac's peculiar genius infects every page." - The New York Times.
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Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars His best
While Kerouac is most known for his popular Beat works such as On the Road, Dharma Bums and Subterraneans, I think the true depth of his creative genius can be found in this phantastic exploration of the rich world of childhood fantasy.The book is not a necessarily easy read.It is filled with the alliterative nonsensical wordplay that Kerouac seemed to delight in.The narrative does not flow in a linear motion.It reads more like the distracted musings of a young boy.The writing is smooth, however, and flows with the jazz-infused seamlessness that Kerouac is known for.

There are several layers to the story.The first is the recounting of Kerouac's childhood in Lowell, Mass.His imagery is bold and imbued with power.Descriptions of the town and his experiences there easily pull the reader in.You can hear the cold rush of the river.You can see the streets, the crooked trees, the gray smoke.You can feel the snowy shadowy dread of winter.You can even feel the childhood excitement of made up games and secret worlds.

The second layer of this story is Kerouac's wildly rich imaganitive world, which plays out in unison with his daily romps with neighborhood friends and family.Here is where the story is truly remarkable.Dr. Sax is a figure of Jack's imagination.He is personal and archetypal, a complex of adolescence and creeping maturity.At once sinister and intriguing, Dr. Sax leaps through the pages like a summoner.You want to rush after him.But childhood distracts and the mundane world draws back both your and Kerouac's attention time and time again.What Kerouac has done is brilliantly bring to life the secret fantasy world of the child.And he has done so without the slightest kitsch or fuzziness.The book is soaked in sentimentality, but it is darkly sentimental, almost mournful.I finished the book with a bit of sadness - sorry the book had ended and also missing my own youthful past.

This is a childhood book for adults.The third layer of the story is Dr. Sax himself.Beyond Jack and his fantasy world, there is Dr. Sax and his own machinations.Like a true archetypal figure from Jack's unconscious, Dr. Sax is working behind the scenes, mysterious, frightenting, mad and misunderstood.He is preparing, ostensibly for Jack's maturation, certainly for dark battles.Dr. Sax could be Kerouac's creative madness, possibly his shadow.In any case, he is a constant flirter of shadows, coloring the gray world of Lowell with something like a deep ocher.

This is Jack Kerouac at his poetic best, in my opinion.At his sentimental best.At his mournful Catholic best.At his imaginative best.Though it is fiction, it is also a great insight into the poetic realm of Kerouac's mind.If this was not his childhood as it truly was, then it was his childhood as he dreamed it to be, which is just as telling.I suspect it is a delicate mixture of both.Fiction or no, the book rings of truth.Dr. Saxresonates deep inside of the reader, tocuhing primal nerves and stirring the many ghosts that roam our collective imaginative pasts.

I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Adolescence in all its messy terror & wonder
This is surely Kerouac's most dreamlike book, even moreso than his collected "Book of Dreams." Both the narrative & the prose itself have the astonishing plasticity of dreams -- the most mundane events are charged with mythic meaning, while the most bizarre & fantastic events are accepted in a matter-of-fact fashion. Memories flow, merge, morph as young Jack experiences the realities & fantasies of his adolescence, with no clear dividing line between them, interacting both with his friends & the pulpish mentor & guide, Dr. Sax.

As we grow older, we usually tend to forget how intense & overwhelming adolescence was for us -- at the very least, it fades into something less immense, smoothed into nostalgia & wry bemusement. But Kerouac never forgot. He never lost that child's inner eye & heart. While that often made his personal life a terribly vulnerable & painful affair, it made his writing immeasurably intimate & immediate, so that he doesn't just remember the past, he relives it. And he makes us feel all that he's feeling, as if the pages are soaked in memories that seep into our own skin.

As other reviewers have noted, this probably isn't the ideal starting point for reading Kerouac. It's certainly not as accessible as "On the Road" or "The Dharma Bums." But to my mind, it's one of the most underrated experimental works of modern literature, with a richness & warmth that stay with the reader for a very long time. Most highly recommended!

4-0 out of 5 stars Kumquats and oranges.
There has always been much of the child in Kerouac.Whether creating a baseball game from a deck of cards in Desolation Angels, or just displaying a child-like fascination and exuberance at the prospect for a hiking trip in the Dharma Bums, he comes across as a naive man-child, the reluctant herald of a new social and literary order.After publication of On the Road, he became fascinated with the idea of a Balzacian type of literary work that would encompass the life of the writer, but would be autobiographical only in a peripheral way.It would be a sprawling collection of novels, vignettes and poems with a re-occurring cast of characters that would allow the reader to view the author in a series of vaguely related situations.This grand epic was to be know as the Duluoz Legend.True, his first novel, The Town and the City, dealt with much of the same material contained in Dr. Sax, but that book was written before Kerouac found his true voice, the one that was displayed in On the Road.So, armed with a new style he was to revisit his youth once more and add to the legend.

What makes this novel distinct from The Town and the City, other than its style, is Kerouac's emphasis on the fantasy world of his youthful protagonist.Ti Jean does what most other adolescent boys do: play sports, hang out with his friends, discover masturbation, and lose himself in the fantasy world of comics, radio and movies.Chief among these are the Street and Smith westerns and the mysterious hero of the weekly radio program, The Shadow - "who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men."Ti Jean, has his own phantom fighter of evil: Dr. Sax, who hangs out down by the banks of the Merrimack, has a greenish complextion, wears a slouch hat in which he stores his secret weapons and potions, and is seen "flowing in the back darks with his wild and hincty cape."Unbeknown to Ti Jean's family and friends trouble has come to Lowell, Mass.In the abondoned mansion on top of Snake Hill the apocalyptic battle between good and evil is to be fought between Dr. Sax and the satanic Serpent, slowly worming its way up from Hell.Although Lowell is saved from the destructive forces of the Serpent, Dr. Sax plays little part in this salvation - he is exposed as quite the inept evil fighter - but by a giant bird that picks up the Serpent and carries it away.All that the ineffectual Dr. Sax can say is, "I'll be damned ... The Universe disposes of its own evil."

I know that I am comparing kumquats to oranges here, but in this novel Kerouac did for Lowell what Joyce did for Dublin.With almost almanac-like precision he describes that mill city of the mid and late 1930s (even providing a sketch map of his Pawtucketville neighborhood) so that armed with a copy of the novel, the present-day reader can follow in Kerouac's footsteps.The Lowell that is described in the novel is essentially an immigrant community, one principally occupied by French Canadians who came south to work in the mills.This community is described with love and attention to detail and Kerouac captures the rhythm of the speech and the social interactions so important to that community.Another high point of the novel is the vivid description of the great flood of 1936, when much of the city was unundated, forcing hundreds to flee their homes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dr. Sax
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac's(1922-- 1969) "On the Road." The Library of America, among others publishers, has marked the occasion with the publication of a new volume including five Kerouac "Road Novels".I wanted to reread other works by Kerouac besides the "road novels" that are in danger of being overlooked, and I turned to "Dr. Sax".Kerouac wrote "Dr. Sax" in 1952 while living with William Burroughs in Mexico City. It was a difficult time for both writers.Kerouac had already written "On the Road" but could not get it published.Burroughs had just accidentally killed his lover, Joan Vollmer, during a drunken game of "William Tell"."Dr. Sax" proved even more difficult to publish than "On the Road" and did not appear in print until 1959.

"Dr. Sax" differs from "On the Road" and the other books in the LOA collection in that it is set in Lowell, Massachusetts, the town where Kerouac grew up.Lowell is a small mill town on the banks of the Merrimack River. During Kerouac's boyhood, it was home to a substantial French-Canadian immigrant population, to a community of Greek Americans and to several other diverse ethnic groups.Kerouac's parents were both immigrants from French Canada.They spoke a dialect of French in their home and Kerouac did not learn English until he was about seven years old. A fascinating part of "Dr. Sax" is the French dialogue among Kerouac and his family -- with Kerouac immediately providing an English rendition in addition to the French.

The book is written from the perspective of an adult -- Kerouac in 1952 in Mexico City -- looking back and reflecting upon his childhood and early adolescence from the standpoint of his ongoing difficult life as awriter struggling for publication and combating his own inner demons of drugs and alcohol.It opens with a dream, and Kerouac tells the reader that "memory and dream are intermixed in this mad universe."The book features a strange character the young Kerouac invented named Dr. Sax, a sinister figure in a cape and slouch hat.Dr. Sax is accompanied by other bizzare characters including Count Cordu the Vampire, the Great Snake, the Wizard, and others who live in a large weed-grown abandoned house on a snake-infested hill just outside of Lowell.Kerouac conceived the idea of Dr. Sax from various comic books that were popular when he was a child.

"Dr. Sax" is memorable largely for the picture it draws of Kerouac's childhood and of Lowell. (Kerouac is named Jack Duluoz or "Ti Jean" in the book.) It gives good portraits of Kerouac's mother and father and of the family's many moves among the poorer neighborhoods of the town and of Kerouac's older sister and ill-fated brother Gerard who died when he was ten. Kerouac, Ti Jean is portrayed as a sensitive, imaginative and athletic child.The book offers portraints of Kerouac playing baseball and marbles, going to church, engaging in pranks and fights with his childhood friends and enemies, watching movies and reading books, experiencing the first flush of sexuality and learning to masturbate, and learning of death, in the person of Gerard and several others.The book also shows a great deal of Lowell and its environs, especially of a large flood that destroyed much of the city's downtown in 1936.

The story of young Ti Jean and of Lowell is punctuated by comic-book like tales of Dr. Sax.Dr. Sax also appears as a shadowy figure commenting upon and observing the life of young Kerouac and his family and friends.There is something sinister about Sax throughout most of the book.He is partly drawn from William Burroughs, as he is shown travelling through South and Central America for various "powders". In the lengthy final chapter of the book, Ti Jean accompanies Dr. Sax in a bizzare chapter in which Sax purports to ward off the forces of evil that threaten Lowell.The story gets a sharp wizard-of-Oz-like twist at the end.

With the comic characters and the surprise ending, there is a great deal of mad humor in Dr. Sax, but the tone still is predominantly one of melancholy and reflection.In one particularly good scene, Kerouac's dying uncle prophetically tells him: "my child poor Ti Jean, do you know my dear that you are destined to be a man of big sadness and talent-- it'll never to live or die, you'll suffer like others -- more"The Dr. Sax figure, similarly, seems to show the price Kerouac paid for becoming a writer.The book suggests -- with its subtitle "Faust Part Three" that Kerouac's writing was part of a Faustian bargain with Dr. Sax in which Kerouac paid for his literary imagination with a sad and tormented life.

Dr. Sax was Kerouac's favorite among his own novels, and many readers would among his work regard it as his best or second-best after "On the Road." (Other works have their own partisans as well.)This book will interest readers who want to see a lesser-known side of Kerouac. The book is written in a variety of styles.It is erratic and not easy reading. Those who are interested in Kerouac's portrayals of his life in Lowell might also enjoy "Maggie Cassidy" and Kerouac's first and underappreciated book, "The Town and the City".

Robin Friedman

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing talesfrompulp sources
Who is Doctor Sax?At first glance, he appears as a shadowy, even frightening figure from pulp comics.He dons a cape and a slouch hat; he changes colors depending on the time of day.Is he a demonic figure, lurking in the darkness intent on catastrophic destruction or is he simply a regular guy in an atypical superhero type costume?

_Doctor Sax_ is basically a series of interconnected tales of the bizarre, as seen primarily through the eyes of its young protagonist, Jean Duluoz.Lowell, Mass. in the 1930s is the backdrop, and the realistic part of the novel includes Jean's interactions with his parents and his boyhood friends.Jean and his buddies engage in all the compulsory games of childhood, including baseball and shooting marbles.The book also contains a large section concerning the flooding of the Merrimac River during a spring thaw.As seen from some of the boys' point of view, the anticipated floods provide sheer excitement, while their adult counterparts react with fear and horror.

The fantasy part of the book, concerning haunted castles, demons, huge coiling snakes and an ultra-colossal sized bird, contains some of the best and most imaginative science fiction/fantasy writing ever._Doctor Sax_ is not just merely a very superior pulp tale of good vs. evil, it is also a work of genius and wit.Mr. Kerouac, having written in an entirely different genre for him, has clearly outdone himself. ... Read more

17. Lonesome Traveler (Kerouac, Jack)
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 192 Pages (1994-01-14)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$6.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802130747
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In his first frankly autobiographical work, Jack Kerouac tells the exhilarating story fo the years when he was writing th books that captivated and infuriated the public, restless years of wandering during which he worked as a railway brakeman in California, a steward on a tramp steamer, and a fire lookout on the crest of Desolation Peak in the Cascde Mountains.
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Customer Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars Jack Hears That Lonesome Whistle Blowing
Some of the general points made below have been used in other reviews of books and materials by and about Jack Kerouac.

"As I have explained in another entry in this space in a DVD review of the film documentary "The Life And Times Of Allen Ginsberg", recently I have been in a "beat" generation literary frame of mind. I think it helps to set the mood for commenting on this one of Jack Kerouac's lesser works, "Lonesome Traveler", essentially a series of `real world' job-related exercises in his well known spontaneous writing method at a time when he was trying to keep body and soul together, that it all started last summer when I happened to be in Lowell, Massachusetts on some personal business. Although I have more than a few old time connections with that now worn out mill town I had not been there for some time. While walking in the downtown area I found myself crossing a small park adjacent to the site of a well-known mill museum and restored textile factory space. Needless to say, at least for any reader with a sense of literary history, at that park I found some very interesting memorial stones inscribed with excerpts from a number of his better known works dedicated to Lowell's `bad boy', the "king of the 1950s beat writers".

And, just as naturally, when one thinks of Kerouac then, "On The Road", his classic modern physical and literary `search' for the meaning of America for his generation which came of age in post-World War II , readily comes to mind. No so well known, however, is the fact that that famous youthful novel was merely part of a much grander project, an essentially autobiographical exposition by Kerouac in many volumes starting from his birth in 1922, to chart and vividly describe his relationship to the events, great and small, of his times. Those volumes bear the general title "The Legend Of Duluoz". That is why we today, in the year of the forty anniversary of Kerouac's death, are under the sign of his book of essays "Lonesome Traveler".

In some senses the stories in "Lonesome Traveler" are, more than "On The Road" and other major works, exemplars of that Kerouac writing method mentioned above. None of the thinly fictionalized (as almost always is the case in a Kerouac work where the material at hand formed the basis of his writing) characters and events in the essays on their faces seem to be more than a catalogue of job, travel, or entertainment happenings. Except Kerouac's descriptive powers turn these every day happenings into a running commentary that the reader, including this reader, stays glued to so as not to miss a detail, even hanging on to see if an egg will turn out to be too "runny" or not. I think that the most powerful expression of that descriptive knack is in the essay "Railroad Earth" (also found in "The Portable Jack Kerouac") which tracks his "day job" as a young brakeman working the San Francisco-based freights. Just an average, maybe above average, working class job. But his descriptive powers/existential sense of the job -Wow. I would give much gold to be able to write a few sentences like that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rucksack tales
This is my favorite Kerouac book, and I've read it three times. My favorite chapters are the ones of him wandering Paris and the one about working on the railroad. The railroad chapter is so realistic, realistic because he is recounting his own life experiences throughout. You get the nitty gritty, day-to-day activity of what life was for a guy working on the railway back then: getting the last bit of sleep he can before it's time to hit it; boss who pretty much terrorizes him; screwing up big time (in which the tension is terrific). All the other chapters are winners, too.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Idealistic Lope to Freedom
Over the years I believe that I have read most of what Kerouac published, but this is probably the most representative of all his work- and my favorite. It had been decades since I first read it, yet I recalled scene after scene and image after image.

First of all, you can't really read Kerouac like an ordinary author. This is flow-of-consciousness. There are passages or words that you may never be able to nail down, but the overall effect is a jazz riff of the spoken word. What you will come away with is an essence that a thousand pages of more "polished" prose will never give you. Kerouac traps the soul of America. Unfortunately it was a soul in danger of dieing from the cold even back when he wrote this book.

The introductory biographical sketch is humorous and enlightening- it gives an immediate window into the man. Then you move to his frantic and unsuccessful attempt to find a berth on a ship after traveling clear across the country. Then there is a brief excursion to old rural fellaheen Indian Mexico. Then he lands a good job as an apprentice brakeman on the Southern Pacific out of San Jose.Then he chucks it all for a job on an old liberty ship as a steward- which he quit in New Orleans when he didn't like the Captain's attitude. But , as always, he saved his pay and headed for the bohemian scene in New York City- where we get a peek at the real beat scene at its height and not some beatnik wannabe parody. Then it is off to the top of Desolation Peak for a summer as a fire lookout in Buddhist solitude. After this we get a trip on a freighter to Tangiers and a tour in the company of Bill Burroughs before a prolonged stay in Paris- by way of Provence. After this it is home via London and then the best analysis of the vanishing hobo life ever written.

Only a holy madman could pass through the world not only unscathed, but blessed.

Kerouac knew the difference between a hobo and a bum- Jim Bridger, Johnny Appleseed, Walt Whitman, John Muir- Jesus and Buddha- were all "hobos..."

4-0 out of 5 stars Travels with Jack Kerouac
Kerouac's "Lonesome Traveler" (1960)is a collection of eight travel essays, several of which had been published earlier.Kerouac offersinsights into the collection in his introduction. He states that he "always considered writing my duty on earth. Also the preachment of universal kindness, which hysterical critics have failed to notice beneath frenetic activity of my true-story novels about the 'beat'generation.-- Am actually not 'beat' but strange solitary crazy Catholic mystic." The essays in "Lonesome Traveler" support Kerouac's comments about his work, which has frequently been misinterpreted or sensationalized.The subject of the collection Kerouac aptly describes as "railroad work, sea work, mysticism, mountain work, lasciviousness, solepsism, self-indulgence, bullfights, drugs, churches, art museums, streets of cities, a mishmosh of life as lived by an independent educated penniless rake going nowhere."

I read much of this book sitting alone in a park on a Saturday afternoon, and it was a fitting companion to my own reflections.There is an intimacy of tone in Kerouac's book that made me feel at times that I was with him and sharing his experiences.Kerouac's spontaneous prose, with its long, strangly, and rhhythmic sentences is an erratic instrument indeed.But when it works, it is moving.

There is a continuity in these essays as Kerouac takes his reader back and forth across the United States, to Mexico, and to North Africa and Europe.Kerouac's vision tends to be highly particularized and specific.He is at his best in describing a lonely room in a San Francisco apartment, a night walk on a pier awaiting a ship, and evening's drinking with a friend and, especially, the sights and places of 'beat' New York City.Many of the scenes in the book show Kerouac sedentary-- in a cheap room or in a fire lookout on Desolation Peak -- while others show a fascination with travel, with ships and the sea and even more with railroads.

The first essay "Piers of the Homeless Night" shows Kerouac wandering on a dock in San Pedro in what becomes a failed effort at securing employment on a ship."Mexico Fellaheen" describes the trip to Mexico he took immediately thereafter, with scenes in a drug den, a bullfight, and a church."The Railroad Earth" is a lengthy chapter in which Kerouac details his experience working as a brakeman, and how "railroading gets in yr blood", as a character says at the end. In "Slobs of the Kitchen Sea" Kerouac describes his experience working on a ship -- before he gets fired. "New York Scenes" includes the finest writing in the collection, as Kerouac takes his reader on an intimate tour of the New York City he clearly knows and loves. "Alone on a Mountaintop" is a reflective chapter about the summer Kerouac spent as a watchman on Desolation Peak. The "Big Trip to Europe" includes William Burroughs as a character and describes Kerouac's experiences in Tangiers, with women, in Paris, with art museums, and in England, with hostile police.The final essay, "The Vanishing American Hobo" is a nostalgic tribute to those wanderers, such as Kerouac himself, who once graced the American and the world landscape.

Besides the descriptive writing, there is a sense of mystical pantheism in this book.Kerouac's thought is notoriously difficult to describe.The book is replete with religious metaphor, both Buddhist and Christian.For all the vagaries of his life, Kerouac the writer has something to teach.The book teaches of the need to accept and love one's experiences and to let go --- expanding upon what Kerouac himself says in his introduction.Life is to be loved and cherished, regardless of one's circumstances.

Thus, at the end of "Mexico Fellaheen", following a visit to a church, Kerouac observes: "I bow to all this, kneel at my pew entryway, and go out, taking one last look at St. Antoine de Padue (St. Anthony) Santo Antonio de Padua. -- Everything is perfect on the street again, the world is permeated with roses of happiness all the time, but none of us know it.The happiness consists in realizing that it is all a great strange dream."

Kerouac offers a great deal of reflection in the essay "Alone on a Mountaintop."Sitting in the fire observation tower, he comes to realize that "no matter where I am, whether in a little room full of thought, or in this endless universe of stars and mountains, it's all in my mind.There's no need for solitude.So love life for what it is, and form no preconceptions whatever in your mind."As he leaves his summer in the fire tower, Kerouac states that he "turned and blessed Desolation Peak and the little pagoda on top and thanked them for the shelter and the lesson I'd been taught."

There is much in journeying with Kerouac in this book that can inspire still.

Robin Friedman

4-0 out of 5 stars Skipping the Central Bop Prosody Silliness, the Rest is Pure Talent
This book is a mixed bag.Unlike "Desolation Angels," where the true Kerouac mixes it up with the bop prosodist to the point where you really need to read all of it, "Lonesome Traveler" has distinct bop prosodist chapters and distinct, what I consider to be, great writing sections.I'd like to go into why I don't like bop prosody, but then the review might disappear. (The bop prosodist police.)Let's just say that Kerouac's great writing is very fluid and lucid, unlike something else we won't talk, and know nothing, about.

The first chapter has a Mickey Spillane quality about it and the narrator's guru has a thugish charm that is lacking in Neal Cassidy and Gary Snyder.Other than that, I can't remember anything about it, which is good.

The second chapter on Mexico is also a winner, though, if you can't handle cruelty to animals, please don't read the section on the bull fight, as Kerouac's journalistic virtuosity is much too ruthlessly evocative here for soft stomachs.The Aztecs are supposed to be the bad guys, ripping out hearts and whatnot.Then the civilized Spaniards come along with Christianity and mariachi bands and everything is supposed to be bueno... except for this thing called the bull fight.Kerouac doesn't make subtle points like Conrad does regarding civilized vs. uncivilized man.But, he scares the pants off you in ways that Conrad doesn't (can't?).

The long bop prosodist chapters on the railroad experience do nothing for me, either stylistically or thematically, so I didn't read much of them.Basically, he's drunk and talking bop gibberish to a bunch of brakemen and winos, except of course for the subtleties I'm obviously missing.I'll live without them.(I k-now no-th-in-g.)

Back to the good stuff.The chapters on Desolation Peak, New York and Europe are all excellent and the latter gives you, in Kerouac's discussion of France, a glimpse of two noteworthy qualities: he was a Renaissance man, who knew his art and literature just enough to avoid being overbearing, and he was blunt, as in his observation that the French, with whom he closely identifies, are "dishonest."The more I read about him, the more he comes off as part of the problem.But, what might his commentary be on the current state of affairs.His view of Obama?Unprintable.But, then I would need to throw him off the mountain with the rest of the Beat schnooks.His insights don't jive with much of his personality and if any of the Beats was queer it was him.He certainly has one foot in the Pont-Aven school and I can see him getting all worked up about Gauguin.But, then he smells Chinese food and it's all over.The contradiction with Kerouac is that his milieu required him to stay urban in the superficial American sense of the word, while his nature called for more of the 19th century salon alliances.

The last chapter on the demise of the hobo speaks to this point: no whole grain, New Age idea of renewable life would have saved Kerouac from the horror of his apple pie/benezedrine non-renewable nightmare.From rucksacks to self-poisoning in less than 10 years: straight lines, not circles.He's no Herbert Huncke, but he set a certain standard that too many other Ricky Nelsons followed into the bucket.He is the quintissential American, a hairy icon whose talent draws heavily on an incresingly superficial, addicted clientele, who follow him around like blind pigeons.Now it's Hollywood actors: their great talent in no way evident to me but fully eulogized by other great actors, who melodramatically mourn their sudden demises. To quote a fellow Arizonan, Edward Abbey, "the party's over [boys]."Yes, Eddy, but they have no where else to go.

If I could read only two Kerouac books, and I haven't read them all by any means, this one and "Desolation Angels" would fit the bill. "The Dharma Bums" is also worth reading, but, if the anachronisms aren't regularly hitting you in the noggen, then maybe you're prime material for some of his more schizo-affective, down-in-the-dirt stuff, of which there seems to be volumes.He's no Jack Kennedy and he's no Wordsworth, but where would we be without him?

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18. Kerouac: A Biography
by Ann Charters
Paperback: 432 Pages (1994-10-15)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$12.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312113471
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Now that Kerouac's major novel, On the Road is accepted as an American classic, academic critics are slowly beginning to catch up with his experimental literary methods and examine the dozen books comprising what he called 'the legend of Duluoz.' Nearly all of his books have been in print internationally since his death in 1969, and his writing has been discovered and enjoyed by new readers throughout the world. Kerouac's view of the promise of America, the seductive and lovely vision of the beckoning open spaces of our continent, has never been expressed better by subsequent writers, perhaps because Kerouac was our last writer to believe in America's promise--and essential innocence--as the legacy he would explore in his autobiographical fiction.
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Biography Worth the Read!
Ms. Charters did a commenable job putting together
this book. I would rate it right up there with
Nicosia's bio. The author certainly provided a lot
of background info and did a compelling job of
helping me get a better understanding of the social
climate which Kerouac & friends had to contend with
and conquer. My only complaint is that her writing style
sometimes lapses into a style a little too closely allied
with that of her subject, but given the subject matter, that is

understandable. I would recommend this book for those of
you who have found Kerouac's writings to be enjoyable.

5-0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put this down
While in college, I had to do a paper on "On The Road" and after reading it, I became absolutely fascinated with Jack Kerouac.I got this book out of the library one day.I think it is excellent. It documentsKerouac's whole life from birth to death and gives the reader a wonderulinsight into the "real" Jack Kerouac.I literally could not putthis down.

2-0 out of 5 stars Kerouac Bum
Although Kerouac was quite an interesting character, Charters gives little justice to this literary genius. She gives merely a string of events, adding no story to his life at all.In addition to that, Mrs. Chartersdoes not describe some situations at all. The reader is left to wonder whattruly happened in some instances, and this gives little justice to Jack'slife. There were a few sentences were the author attempted to write inJack's style, and fails miserably. I'm sorry to detract so much from Mrs.Charters, but she is no Jack Kerouac. Overall, the book isn't bad, and ifyou're really interested in Kerouac, it's not a bad place to start, but ifyou really want to dive into Kerouac's psyche and true genius, this is notthe place to do it.

5-0 out of 5 stars ....
Definitely a commendable effort by Ms. Charters... I could invision myself as an observer of Kerouac's life experiences...heck...I thought I was standing right beside him...I would recommend this book for anyoneinterested about Kerouac...after all...he taught us ..."the joy oflife is on the road and that we'll all be the same in the end...."

4-0 out of 5 stars Probably the second best Kerouac bio.
Next to Greg Nicosia's book, this is probably the best biography we have on Kerouac.I'd recommend that you read both Charter's and Nicosia's. ... Read more

19. Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac
by Gerald Nicosia
Paperback: 767 Pages (1994-02-23)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$79.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0520085698
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In 1969 Jack Kerouac died a premature death. While his legendary lifestyle and unique creative talent made him a hero in his lifetime, his literary influence has grown steadily since. With Memory Babe(a childhood nickname honoring Kerouac's feats of memory), Gerald Nicosia gives us a complete biography of Jack Kerouacan honest, discriminating and, above all, compassionate assessment. This edition is enhanced by many rare photographs never before published. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best, Period
The most thorough, insightful biography ever written about Jack Kerouac. Whether you're a Kerouac veteran or a rookie, if you aim to call yourself a JK fan, you simply must read Nicosia's biography of this great American visionary. None of the other Kerouac biographies comes close. This is the top of the mountain.

5-0 out of 5 stars Long and worth it
When was the last time you read an almmost-800 page book and wanted it to keep going at the end? That was my experience with Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac. If you love Kerouac - which I do, as evidenced by my writing The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, a book answering the question, 'What would Kerouac do?' - this is a must-read. Nicosia skillfully balances attention to detail with an interesting story to provide the reader with a comprehensive yet critical look into the life of one of America's greatest writers. This is a challenging and scholarly work, one that shouldn't be undertaken lightly. You won't be sorry if you take up the challenge.

5-0 out of 5 stars Midwest Book Review - riveting bio, skillfully written
Chronologically, from birth to death, author Nicosia tells Kerouac's life story with unflinching honesty and utmost respect.Blessed with a sharp memory, very early on Jack's childhood friends nicknamed him "Memory Babe" and that is where the book got its name.Packed with fascinating details and exquisitely written,this book needs to be discovered by a younger generation of readers.

Many of us alive today have heard of Jack Kerouac but I doubt fewknow the details of his tragic life.That he remains the voice of a generation and a literary icon goes without saying.Kerouac was a physically beautiful but emotionally flawed man with a tormented spirit.He spent his life as man and writer trying to prove that "the past is the root of the future, and that a man cannot live without the continuity of both."Jack remembered everything he heard, as if words were sacred and his mind was a sponge.Despite his many flaws, he always paid "exquisite attention to the sound of language."

Even as he mapped new territory as a writer,Kerouac was adrift as a man.As the first spokesman for the "beat" generation, he perfected that voice with guilt, self-doubt, and self-punishment.This biography clearly states Jack's definition of "beat":"beat down, beat up, all-tired-out."Still, his words were always carefully chosen.Word by word, Kerouac carefully created phrases to express time, place, emotion, and man's senses, communicating deep meaning.His writing was full of symbolism and visions, allegory and veiled reality, profanity and parody, as he groped his way with prose towards his own death.For his time, Kerouac's verbal ingenuity was unsurpassed.

Personally, his charismatic male persona disguised a quicksilver child, mischievous and unpredictable.As he aged, Jack became a brooding, paranoid, hard drinking drug user, insecure in his sexuality and prone to alcoholic blackouts.As addiction wrecked his health, his light slowly drowned out and he became a lonely and despairing figure.But for decades in between youth and death, this trusting, shy, socially awkward man became a literary legend.

Jack Kerouac rubbed shoulders with Jackson Pollock, Allen Ginsberg, and every jazz great of his day.He was published by several of the major New York publishing houses.His prose and poetry were unprecedented and have not been successfully imitated since.He died young, never fully realizing the effect of his mind and his work on subsequent generations.

Gerald Nicosia has penned THE definitive biography of Kerouac.From letters, journals, tapes, interviews, and Jack Kerouac's books themselves - all faithfully recorded in a detailed bibliography - the author has skillfully dissected the life of the "beat" generation's strongest voice.The result is both scholarly and deeply personal, touching and disturbing. It should be required reading in every college and university, and a must have book for any reader curious about Kerouac and his time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable!
I have read alot of biographies on Kerouac, but this one doesnt even compare to the rest.This book is full of details.I mean, minute details, with input and interviews from obscure people (as well as the prominent) in Jack's life.Buy it, read it, be moved!

4-0 out of 5 stars Scholarly, challenging
Of the two best-known Kerouac biographies -- the other being Ann Charters' -- Memory Babe is by far the more scholarly. Challenging and difficult, Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe still entertains. Memory Babe is a treasure-trove, but not for the light reader. ... Read more

20. Book of Sketches (Poets, Penguin)
by Jack Kerouac
Paperback: 496 Pages (2006-04-04)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$9.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142002151
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A never-before-published book of poems by Jack Kerouac—in a deluxe package

In 1952 and 1953 as he wandered around America, Jack Kerouac jotted down spontaneous prose poems, or "sketches" as he called them, on small notebooks that he kept in his shirt pockets. The poems recount his travels—New York, North Carolina, Lowell (Massachusetts, Kerouac’s birthplace), San Francisco, Denver, Kansas, Mexico—observations, and meditations on art and life. The poems are often strung together so that over the course of several of them, a little story—or travelogue—appears, complete in itself. Published for the first time, Book of Sketches offers a luminous, intimate, and transcendental glimpse of one of the most original voices of the twentieth century at a key time in his literary and spiritual development. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

3-0 out of 5 stars Jack Kerouac Book of Sketches
This book arrived with the following on the cover: ADVANCED UNCORRECTED PROOF. NOT FOR SALE!
There may be publisher's typos in this copy, and it seems that selling it is not legal. Therefore, I am skeptical
about the honesty of this seller. I do not remember seeing this included in the description when I chose to buy
this particular book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read.
I wouldn't say it is the greatest sketches/poetry about America as was stated by another reviewer. I have found Charles Erskin Scott Wood and John Muir to be a couple of the most descriptive writers American has ever known, however Muir's writings where not poetic, although they are so pure and eloquent, that they come off as such. Wood's 'The Poet in the Desert' is a nothing short of a looking glass, but his is once again poetry describing land and nature as where Kerouac was describing people places and things in such a low even rhythm that you not only see it, but you can smell it. Really, I love so many of the great poets, and Kerouac is way up there...in more ways than one, I suppose. This is one for your library folks...worth ever red cent.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kerouac and the Beat Words
I first read Kerouac when I was a teenager in Hopatcong High School in Hopatcong, NJ. My father had gotten me The Dharma Bums for one of my early teen birthdays, possibly fourteen but I am not really sure now. Well I was taken on this new style of writing that I up to that point had never seen before. I read a few more of his books but it wasn't until I left NJ on a bus heading for Denver, CO on February the 13th, 1996 that Kerouac changed my life. Before this I was trying to learn how to write with little to no success but then it all changed for me. I got what was to be my very last slice of NY pizza being I am now a diabetic and I saw some street peddler selling "On the Road" by Kerouac. I bought it and devoured it with someone else I met on the trip all the way to St. Louis ,MO.

I was in fact reading the same trip Jack took all those years ago and now I come to the "Book of Sketches." I have always liked jacks poetry and this is a great example of vigilance to write. All of these came from a notebook he carried around where ever he went. I used to be that vigilant when I was homeless so I understand where he is comming from. Anyone that likes Jack or poetry should read this amazing book. I emplore you to, and you will not be dissapointed I promise.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Great American Poem
I know this was an accumulation of Kerouac's observations from the early 1950's until 1957 written in little notebooks...writings that capture the detail of the world (mostly America) as he mentally photographed it and transcribed it ( as a writer's exercise or batting practice)...and I know that he took all these observations and typed them up as a manuscript titled book of sketches...But upon reading this...this stands as the greatest poem ever written about America...

5-0 out of 5 stars Most important new Kerouac release in decades
After completing his scroll version of On the Road in April 1951, Kerouac was still unsatisfied and wanted to break away from its "conventional narrative survey of road trips etc." In October his architect student friend Ed White suggested to Jack: "Why don't you just sketch in the streets like a painter but with words?" Kerouac tried it, and was gripped by the power of the new technique which lent a new form of spontaneity to his writing. He began straight away, enthusiastically rewriting his Road book in this new fashion. The first 36 pages of Visions of Cody are pure sketches, recorded in the streets, subways and diners of New York in the fall of 1951. This new publication, Book of Sketches, contains over 400 more pages of sketches, typed up by Jack in 1959 from the original small breast-pocket notebooks in which they were recorded. They begin with sketches of life at his sister's home in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in August 1952, just after Jack had returned there from Mexico City where he had completed work on Doctor Sax. Jack describes his work on the North Carolina railroad just before taking off on the road once more on a mammoth hitch-hike to California, via Denver, and the new Cassady home in San Jose. Then follow sketches of Mexico from December 1952, and one on an airplane flying from St Louis to New York, a previously unknown trip taking Jack back home in time for Christmas.

In the following year Jack sketched while on a visit to Montreal in March 1953, and during his railroad work at San Luis Obispo, California that April, before taking off by sea for New York and a meeting with "Mardou" during the summer of the Subterraneans. Sketches of Jack's work on the Long Island railroad in October are also included , as well as more descriptions of the streets of Manhattan and Long Island that fall. The book comes to a close with a glimpse of life in San Francisco in early 1954, and tagged onto the end are a few sketches recorded during Jack's big overseas trip of Spring 1957, to Tangiers, France, and England.

The writing is superb throughout, and particularly the description of what must have been Kerouac's longest ever hitch-hike, 3000 miles from North Carolina to California in late August 1952, via Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, a trip not previously mentioned in his other writings. Jack lists each town he passed through and describes practically every lift he obtained on the way. Reaching Denver, Jack spent a whole day sketching Neal's old haunts, including Zaza's barbershop, the Glenarm poolhall, and Pederson's. But as well as sketching the scenes before him, Kerouac also explored philosophical topics, such as his Spengler-inspired sympathy with the Fellaheen, in his "Notes on the Millennium of the Hip Fellaheen, Oct. 1952, California" and planned his future with them -- "Go among the People, the Fellaheen not the American Bourgeois Middle-class World of neurosis nor the Catholic French Canadian European World -- the People -- Indians, Arabs, the Fellaheen in country, village, of City slums -- an essential World Dostoevsky."

This has to be one of the most important pieces of Kerouac's writing to have been released in several decades. As well as providing further examples of Kerouac's innovative sketch-writing, it also fills some gaps in the Duluoz Legend. It will become an essential part of the Kerouac canon. The marketing of the book raises some queries, however, since it is described on the back cover as a collection of "poems" and is published in the Penguin Poets series. Kerouac always seemed quite clear that his sketches were not poems but prose. In his definition of a sketch (in Some of the Dharma) he notes that "A sketch is a prose description of a scene before the eyes," and on the title page of his typescript wrote: "Book of Sketches -- Proving that sketches ain't verse." It is clear, though, that sketching led to Kerouac's development of the spontaneous poems he called Blues, which he began in 1954 with San Francisco Blues, continuing with his classic Mexico City Blues the following year. Whatever, it's the content of the book that matters, and this is quite simply outstanding, and essential for any Kerouac enthusiast.

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