Industrial-Sized Deals GG Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Indie for the Holidays egg_2015 Fire TV Stick Beauty Deals Gifts Under $50 Amazon Gift Card Offer minions minions minions  Amazon Echo Starting at $84.99 Kindle Black Friday Deals TheGoodDinosaur Outdoor Deals on HTL
Customer Review

71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In search of the eternal state of being, August 23, 2007
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (Paperback)
As Kerouac notes in the introductory chapter, he met Gary Snyder, a.k.a. Japhy Ryder in 1955, just before Snyder went off to Japan to immerse himself in Zen Buddhism. What follows is a free-wheeling account of their time together in perhaps Kerouac's most appealling and certainly most postive book. Dharma Bums is a celebration of American Buddhism, which was budding in San Francisco at the time, with a number of Beat poets reading their haikus and free-verse poems at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. Once again, Kerouac revels in changing names, but among the many prominent faces presented in this autobiographical novel are Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Rexroth and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Snyder was the rising star, a Buddhist scholar and translator of books of Japanese and Chinese poetry while studying at Berkley. Snyder, like Kerouac, had working class roots and the two hit it off from the start, exulting in each other's state of being.

Kerouac devotes Dharma Bums to Snyder in the same way he did On the Road to Neal Cassady. It was one of Kerouac's more happy times, as he was heavy into Buddhism, and sought out Snyder as a soulmate and mentor. Kerouac sets the stage wonderfully, coming across a hobo reading from St. Theresa on a train bound for LA, coming back from Mexico. He then hops the "Zipper" up to San Francisco, which whirled along at 80 miles an hour on the California coastline. Kerouac hangs out at Ginsberg's cabin in the Berkley hills, but it is Snyder's spartan cabin that draws his attention. Snyder had already chosen to live the life of an aesthete, giving up most of his worldly possessions, except for his famous rucksack and orange crates of books, mostly of poetry. Kerouac captures some wonderful moments as they all gathered around drinking wine and engaging in yab yum with a girl who went by the name of Princess.

The heart of the story revolves around Jack's and Gary's hike to the Matterhorn in the Sierra Nevada, in which the two form a strong bond that propells Kerouac on other adventures, including a summer at Desolation Peak in the northern Cascades that would become the subject of his next book, Desolation Angels. Kerouac's writing shines in this book, as he is able to maintain such an ecstatic high throughout the narrative, almost seeming to touch the sky. Of course, having such a positive person like Gary Snyder to wrap the book around gave Kerouac the impelling force he needed, as on his own Kerouac often sank into melancholy and despair, which characterized his later years. One marvels at the free and easy nature of this pair as they search out their respective enlightenment, drawing on nature and their sense of the eternal cosmos.

One doesn't have to be well versed in Buddhism to appreciate this book, although allusions and references are many and may confuse some readers. Just let yourself go and enjoy the free flow of the narrative, which is Kerouac at his best.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Tracked by 2 customers

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 26, 2008 4:10:45 PM PDT
Tome Raider says:
Excellent review, but I'm currently reading this book and I'm frequently astounded by the chaotic, rambling narrative and the over-the-top Buddhist cliches. On the Road was a life altering read, but with Dharma Bums I find myself regularly thinking of Truman Capote's quote: "This isn't writing, this is typing."

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2009 3:04:17 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 8, 2009 9:36:47 PM PDT
T. Baughman says:
Even as a teenager, I thought this book was really lame, as i did with evereything else Kerouac wrote.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2010 11:06:10 AM PST
J. Asam says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2010 5:32:14 AM PST
You're welcome.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 28, 2010 2:13:55 PM PDT
Mr. Ferguson, I think the previous poster (J. Asam) was aiming his/her comments to T. Baughman, not to you. Your review was excellent, and I thank you for it.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2010 6:07:28 AM PDT
Seems you are right and thank you for the kind comments. In many ways this is my favorite Kerouac book.

Posted on May 20, 2011 4:33:12 PM PDT
Conman1994 says:
hey. i was thumping around, and the book is supposed to be 435 pages or so, but the The Dharma Burns books i see on amazon (including this one) all say about 224 pages. is the 224 pages another EDITED VERSION such as the 307 page On the Road, or am i mistaken in it being 435 pages?
‹ Previous 1 Next ›