Jack Kerouac


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Indeed, looking at the 3 most recent comments, I see that one person is from Portugal and another from Poland. Kerouac was never for the literary snobs but rather for those who care about passion, and those people are not nationally bound. It is heartening to realize that he is still read with the same commitment and intensity as he was during his brief lifetime. "On The Road" and "The Dharma Bums" - to pick two - should be required high school reading. Kerouac is a perfect antidote for disaffected - and disillusioned - youth.

>>By Persevere   (Wednesday, 5 Nov 2003 02:17)

Agree! Kerouak really required high school of reading and living
to be really loved!....

>>By theodoramaffat   (Wednesday, 5 Nov 2003 12:57)

Kerouac, the living embodiment of "if you are a young republican you have no heart; if you are an old democrat you have no mind." Of course I exempt Ted Kennedy, who is somehow a bitter, passionate idealistic drunk. Go figure.
Its tough to reconcile Jack's beautiful passion youth with his bitter drunk middle age. Even tougher to recommend that freewheeling jazz rootlessness as a tenet for belief. If Jack couldn't hack it, what luck will y'all have? Unless you pronounce chowder with an 'ah' and have two assassinated idealized younger brothers, it might be tough. Not to get Chappaquiddick on your asses.

>>By Ortho Stice   (Friday, 19 Dec 2003 22:17)

Don't get me wrong, JK has a place in my heart, but pound for pound,
Go by John Clellon Holmes I thought was a much better book. Read 'em
both, then you be the judge. JK undisputably had more staying power,

>>By Faun   (Thursday, 5 Feb 2004 05:15)

On the road is still one of the most amazing books i ever read! I read the book at least once a year, it's cool to read books that are about freedom, friendship and getting kicks out of the adventures you are in, even though these adventures are really just hart to hart conversations while being drunk ans stoned and all that! I dont see JK as pure literature, but as a feeling an experience i have to have once a year at the least!

>>By Mig29wrd   (Sunday, 23 May 2004 20:36)

Good writer or not, Im really not concerned...But I can't stand the imitation Kerouacs. people take the inspiration that his work provides and move it in the wrong direction. Instead of finding themselves, they try to change who they are natrually and be perceived how they see jack. Its sort of like trying to be jesus because you read the bible. Well, you wont make it because the reality of what actually happened doesn't always correspond to what has been put into words. And even when a piece of literature is factual and honest, we the readers can never fully become our heros. Besides, why is it so hip to emulate when nobody can succeed and not just create an original self which is absolutely possible for everyone alive? Insecurities? Blah

>>By Hume Ungus   (Tuesday, 25 May 2004 00:40)

Quite an interresting fellow, me and my crew here in sweden have dug him for some time now. I've read "on the road" and "Dharma Bums", and Dharma Bums appeals alot more to me. Dharma Bums has a more mature touch to it, than the everlasting search for kicks in On the road. Can't wait 'til my friend finishes Big Sur so I can borrow it from him

>>By Loyror   (Sunday, 13 Jun 2004 23:47)

I honestly do like jack a great repenstation of the beat eara The motive and spontitunity to just take off when you want our culture is to thrivant on the making of evry thing better that often we forget about what is great about the now and what is around us this consept is almost essentaial to making the future better in its self may I you like jack look into neal cassidy , alan greensburg and lawrance firlingetti as well as gary snyder

>>By sarahmiceala   (Saturday, 24 Jul 2004 17:23)

I was rather taken with Kerouac in my late teens. My first read was Desolation Angels which I picked up in a newsgents in an Irish seaside town where I working as 'pearl diver' (dishwasher) in a hotel. Kerouac seemed terribly exotic at the time. An American hobo with Buddhist leanings, hitching rides on trains, working odd jobs ( a forest fire-watch in Desolation Angels if I recall correctly). The lifestyle, the stream of consciousness rambles, promised a lazy, ill-disciplined freedom of sorts. There was the drink and the drugs. It ruined poor Jack, though.

>>By colleen   (Thursday, 27 Jan 2005 13:48)

art is hard.

>>By styles   (Saturday, 5 Feb 2005 05:18)

I would like that those who argue that Jack Kerouac is such a great writer could explain me why in the world do they say that???? Are people mad about sex, drugs and rock and roll? Unfortunately I have to read "On the road" to write an essay for college and I am simply hating the book. There is no moral, no values, no sense at all, for the characters simply travell... for nothing! I know that it is supose to show the second post war deception, but still I don't think that it should go on like that.

>>By moonflower   (Friday, 20 May 2005 10:55)

< the characters simply travell... for nothing>

(sigh) yup I'd much rather a neat little script on a guy who goes to school, gets a job, works his whole life and then dies. But learns a neatly packaged and presented moral lesson on the way. Now that's writing.

>>By docjay   (Wednesday, 25 May 2005 15:38)

So I supose that smoking drugs, getting drunk and having sex with whores is the dream of every guy, right? For that is what the book is all about. A peculiar taste for books, especially for a med student, but each person has its own taste...

>>By moonflower   (Friday, 27 May 2005 19:20)

errr, EXCUSE ME?
A peculiar taste for a med student? Are people supposed to have homogenised tastes depending upon their chosen walk of life? What would you like us to read then?
Is it the dream of every man to take drugs and sleep with whores? Well can't speak for every man but no that's not my dream and it's most certainly not what appealed to me about this book and it is CERTAINLY not what "this book is all about". What DOES appeal to me about this and all of Kerouac's writing is that he embraces every visceral and spirtual experience that comes his way in what were and still are increasingly vacuous times.
Try seeing past your own, poorly explored, moral objections to some of the minor details of this book and try thinking about what it meant to a generation of kids in the 50's to read about a young man who stepped off the path that had been set out for him. About what it means to live life, be it badly or well, but at least to live it fully. Not timidly or by halves.
Another 70 years on this planet. If you're very very lucky that is the about the absolute maximum that you'll have. Whatever makes you happy for god's sake (and your own) do it. That's what this book is about.

>>By docjay   (Tuesday, 21 Jun 2005 14:13)

I am currently reading Tristessa--which is an amazing piece of literature. So empathetic, so loud, so visible...And in response to a post of "JK wanna be's", I know one...it was the man I fell in love with... and all I can do is watch him ruin himself...

>>By Euphoric   (Monday, 19 Dec 2005 04:17)

I'm plodding my way through "On the Road" now . . . I have a kind of love/hate relationship with Kerouac at present. Reading him is definitely a departure from my ordinary reading fare . . .i.e. highly structured, very left-brained kind of things . . .James Joyce, Ezra Pound [bits and pieces . . .basically as catalyst for other writers], Richard Powers, Nabokov, Mann, Musil, Gaddis, Pynchon [although it might be hard to return to Pynchon with my earlier fervor]. Largely what I miss in Kerouac as writer of fictions is any psychological motivation in his novels . .. to PROTEST or be an OUTSIDER or representative of some kind of COUNTER CULTURE would seem to me to require some kind of motivational experiences . . . if there is ANGER [as in "angry young men"] what is its basis/foundation . . .perhaps some of that missing element might have been spelled out Kerouac's earlier novel "Town and Country" if I'm getting the title correctly here. Kerouac often seems to be an UNABASHED NARCISSIST in the most denigratory sense of the term . .. I'm trying to fill out some particulars of the above critique as I read through Lasch's "Culture of Narcissism" . . .perhaps another term that might apply is Post-Adolescence . . .not wanting to be rely on Freud too much in these opinions . . .it's possible that Freud's Narcissus complex [and its complicated evolution even in Freud's own thinking] has been grossly misrepresented by some of his followers e.g. Eric Fromm . .. but my opinions in this area are in a state of flux . . .so I'm sure things will permute a few times before I make up mind on Kerouac's Value/Significance as an author.

>>By satorotas   (Wednesday, 10 Jan 2007 18:03)

I think Jack was a bit overrated too, Sator. All those hippies were scrabbling around for summatt to latch on to. They needed their gods & mentors, didn't they.

>>By nonyeb   (Wednesday, 10 Jan 2007 19:25)

I started reading "On the Road" to get ready for a Book Discussion Group which will
have a meeting at the local library (where I now am) on January 20 . . .perhaps there'll
be some "cool" people there . . . literary types . . . I can't really "brag" on much about
Kerouac thus far . . .but I'm getting a bunch of other things transferred to this location
through other libraries . . ."Dharma Bums" and "Haiku" and a Creeley-edited book
of Jack's Poems and various things like that . . . other than a kind of "fresh" "breezy"
sometimes exhilerating slice-of-on-the-go-travelogue I don't see much at all in Kerouac
. . .as I summed it up in my former comments . . .Kerouac was some kind of Post-Post-
Adolescent . . . and that's too bad in a way . . . he occasionally has a "knack" with words
there is that Whitmanesque kind of BUZZ going on . . .but overall it kind of peters out . . .
it's like Peter Pan without the charm.

>>By satorotas   (Wednesday, 10 Jan 2007 21:08)

I'd agree with you.

>>By nonyeb   (Wednesday, 10 Jan 2007 22:45)

I figure a carefully selected excerpt from "On the Road" is better than a lot of back-and-forth
about Kerouac's merits or demerits as a writer . . .what follows is found on page 57 on the edition of the novel that I've been reading [it's promoted as the 40th Anniversary Edition]:

[ . . . ] She was a nice little girl, simple and true, and tremendously frightened of sex. I told her it was beautiful. I wanted to prove this to her. She let me prove it, but I was too impatient and proved nothing. She sighed in the dark. [ . . .]
[end of excerpt] I must retract an earlier comment that I made saying that Kerouac
is "Peter Pan without the charm" . . .that comment now seems to me to denigrate both Kerouac [its demonstrable intent of course] and J. M. Barrie. There are "lost boys" in
abundance in Kerouacs writings . . .and I certainly should not use a rather obvious Fantasy to evaluate something quite different.

>>By satorotas   (Thursday, 11 Jan 2007 20:58)

Even from the extract you've just given, Sator, he can seem rather artless. It takes all sorts to make a world, I guess.

>>By nonyeb   (Sunday, 14 Jan 2007 08:21)

nonyeb, my friend,,,hope your move went well!

I have to agree about Kerouac. I am a voracious reader and have a huge personal library. On those shelves sits lots of Kerouac. I can never muster enough spirit to stay the course and finish anything I start. I would say that the sense of artlessness might be the affect of his desired style and goal in transmission. I am struck the same way.

I also wonder if many of us open Kerouac's books with a very high expectation and romanticism about where the books might carry us. Possibly we hold our sense of what he represents too high and once we are there, we are subsequently let down.

I will say this...I now have a spark to try again one of his books to see if I can read with fewer ideas of what I should be getting from his work.


Al C

>>By Al C   (Sunday, 14 Jan 2007 13:13)

If Kerouac now seems a rather lesser talent, then maybe it's because his work's been overblown & talked-up too much especially since the late '60s hippy generation.
Through the haze of marijuana, patchouli, incense, etc it may've all looked more rosy & glorious then but here in 2007 the style just looks too plain & dry. Not enough meat on the bone!

>>By nonyeb   (Sunday, 14 Jan 2007 14:48)

Kind of like the old story of the girl who could not wait to bed Mick Jaggar. She finally sleeps with him and is convinced it was nothing like sleeping with Mick Jaggar!

You could be onto it, but I am going to give it another go.

>>By Al C   (Sunday, 14 Jan 2007 22:57)

Well, Al, a Kerouac fan might argue that despite the plain, unadorned prose, he does at least get to the point quickly. No shilly-shallying there!

>>By nonyeb   (Monday, 15 Jan 2007 03:11)

I've currently switched over to "The Kerouac Reader" which kind of condenses several novels . . . it's really almost an impossible task for me to build up any enthusiasm for this writer . . .coming from a Joyce/Proust/Nabokov/Beckett background . . . I just kind of
fall through all the "holes" in the writing . . .I am far far from the Merrie Fields of
Spontaneity . . .I think that's Kerouac's just fine for folks up to 22 or thereabouts . . .but Kerouac just doesn't come through for me at all. I agree with nonyeb about the Purple
Haze Conceit . . .one's critical faculties must be put entirely aside . . .[Off With Head!!!
vehemently yelled the Imperial Bitch!!!] . . .and even then the Hallucinagens [sp?]
must be of the Highest Order.

O well . . .Ho Hum'd de Ho.

>>By satorotas   (Tuesday, 16 Jan 2007 20:47)

I just feel that Kerouac might have allowed himself to exploit the English language a tad more.

>>By nonyeb   (Tuesday, 16 Jan 2007 23:06)

Of course I've gone on much too long already in this milieu . . .but it would appear that the truth of the matter [as far as my personal Kerouac Reception goes] is that I'm a bit envious of the fellow who got there before me . . .so there's anxiety of influence all over my face . . .Ha Ha Ha!
I pulled all the Kerouac stunts literarily as a young man . . . and very likely whenever I read any of JK's works I pulled away in revulsion . . .which is quite curious psychologically because I was doing exactly his kind of thing . . .the spontaneous outpourings . . . and freeform freewheeling angst etc.
So . . .now I am investigating some of JK's latter works where his Buddhist agendas become quite obvious . . .and kind of sizing him up that way . . . as gravitating towards that SATORI in Buddhist terms . . .and just kind of very very restless . . .full of ennui and restlessness until he arrived at the SATORI which was calling him all along . . .and Kerouac and I are alike in that regard . . .both of us wanting to pull away from this mortal particularity [individual personality] that we have been "saddled with" . . .that MOUNTED on our backs . . .and get into the HOLY HOLY HOLY where all the rest just falls away as trash.
Hopefully some of the above makes some sense.

>>By satorotas   (Friday, 19 Jan 2007 23:23)

An Update:
I'm still continuing along with "Dharma Bums" and have even been working on
"Some of the Dharma" . . .also have some Gary Synder books coming in via the
library system here. Enjoying this whole line of study immensely.

>>By satorotas   (Thursday, 25 Jan 2007 21:13)

I'm currently mapping Sal Paradise's first On the Road journey with Google Maps, and blogging my impressions about the book - though I'm not actually traveling the route. I've been to a few places on the route though.

You check it all out at http://littourature.blogspot.com. Or, if you want to skip my ramblings and just see the map so far, www.geocities.com/Athens/4209/maps/kerouac_map.htm

>>By Musegumbo   (Friday, 27 Apr 2007 23:14)

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