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Big Sur: (Penguin Ink) Paperback – Deckle Edge, April 26, 2011
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Much of the book was written in the afterglow of hangovers, or the buzz of the day's first drink. There is weariness here, a sedated fatalism. His spirituality struggles with morbidity. Still, Kerouac's sensual, sensitive poetic prose might have reached its most sublime character in 'Big Sur', even in its fevered sparks of delirium tremens. It drifts, as Kerouac was drifting, in the disillusionment of the post-Beat rancor, then swirls into eddies of luminous energy. The flow of consciousness is viewed as if through a prism which gives experience a subjective, surreal semblance of order. It seems so tantalizingly close to grasping some illusive meaning, that talisman Kerouac had followed through friendships, terrestrial and spiritual wandering, hardscrabble existence, inebriation, all his life.Read more ›
Given the opportunity to seclude himself from his friends, fame, and drinking to excess in the cabin of a friend, Kerouac sinks into a sort of paranoia and anxiety, and finally gives in to his impulse to return to 'civilization'....and then proceeds to invite a group back to the cabin, leading him to realize that his most recent affair was with a girl he didn't actually love.
The most fascinating aspect of this novel, to me, is not the horrific volume of drinking Kerouac does at this stage of his life, but in the fact that though he was put off by his fame, and being dubbed 'the King of the Beats', and at being hounded by ardent fans who wanted to merely be in his presence...he couldn't stand the isolation.
Also of interest to me was the 'honesty' he put into his feelings about the actions of his fans...they say 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery', but Kerouac seemed to think just the opposite...and all but told his fans/readers to 'get a life' in several passages of the book. Those in his industry, who rely so heavily on fan-support rarely ever are so vocal about their distaste for those same fans, without a severely negative impact on their sales.
An excellent read, though if you are looking for 'uplifting', spiritually awakening wisdom from the 'king of the beats', look elsewhere. This book is a downward spiral into the darker recesses of Kerouac's alcohol-induced delirium.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Kerouac's writing is easy to read. The book is best for those readers who are interested in the Beat Generation writers. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Mike R.
Sorry, Jack. I can't accept your place as an American Man of Letters. You may have been the King of the Beats for many, but I think I'll stick to Ginsberg and Burroughs. Read morePublished 1 month ago by C. M. Newland
Classic Kerouac, with some sadly insightful experiences by and of him.Published 2 months ago by Zach
Harrowing, disembodied, visceral. Not pretty. Not admirable. Should have been called Delerium Tremens. Read morePublished 2 months ago by isolotus
An entertaining read about a man's journey through life as well as some metaphorical antecedents.Published 3 months ago by Skywalker70
I never read much when I was younger, so I put off Jack Kerouac until now. I've enjoyed a few of his books for their adventure and thought provoking subjects, and this one didn't... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dane Holloway
A whirling, fast-paced, first-person descent into the madness of delirium tremens, addiction, and hopeless subjective despair. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Brett
A strange first person narrative from Jack K: at a friend's cabin at Big Sur (California) the first half of the book describes how he and his friends came to be there, most of the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Petter Thorson