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The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions Paperback – September 13, 2008
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About the Author
Rick Dale has a D.Ed. in Educational Administration from Pennsylvania State University, and is a professor in the Special Education Department at a state university in Maine. He is a Jack Kerouac enthusiast who plays bluegrass music semi-professionally and enjoys a multitude of outdoor sports. Rick lives with his partner and her two sons—and two cats—on a lake in Maine. This is his first book.
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Top Customer Reviews
Then Rick Dale’s The Beat Handbook, 100 days of Kerouactions is for you.
Rick is an unabashed advocate for Jack Kerouac and all things Kerouac. Kerouac, of course, was a leader in the “beat” generation of the mid-1950s and forward. And Rick Dale, a former professional colleague of mine, has “mined” the life of the first real hippie in America.
So, Rick’s book is organized around the writings and actions of Kerouac, short extrapolations of Jack Kerouac’s travels and actions. Without pretense or affectation, Dale reports “What Jack did or would do in myriad situations,” and briefly, comments on them.
That is all well and good. But Dale cannot escape his own educational background. For educators, a story, an example, an episode, is really an opportunity to hone in on “that teachable moment.” In each short chapter, Rick uses “a Kerouaction” to lead readers to possible activities, each intended to be more beatific than the social norm. In essence, Rick says, “If you like Jack Kerouac, try something he might do.”
That makes for an interesting read all by itself. An easy admission is that Kerouac is truly an interesting focus for a book. But Dale’s analysis and application of “Kerouactions” provides the reader with interactive, focused, and poignant suggestions. A perfect example is on P. 117. While Kerouac advocates drinking over work, Dale simply asks the reader this: Of your list of current priorities, set side by side with “beat” ones, what changes in one’s life are possible?
Most ironically, I find that the mysteries that are Kerouac and the suggestions by Rick Dale are perhaps best revealed in a very “non-beat” poet on Page 109: John Greenleaf Whittier. “For all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been.”
I enjoyed The Beat Handbook. It set off self-reflection and live journey possibilities that few other books have stirred. I recommend it to others.
Enter The Beat Handbook by Rick Dale. Subtitled 100 Days of Kerouactions, the author reminds us that even in these times of political showdowns with lots of folks worried about losing their rights and freedoms or complaining that they've never had any, freedom is right out your back door.
Designed as a free-living companion book, Dale asks the daily question "What would Jack do? (That is, Jack Kerouac, for you Beat novices.) His advice, drawn mainly from Kerouac's signature novels, On the Road and Dharma Bums, and sprinkled with Zen-Buddhist mysticism and references to other mystics, pivots from the practical to the spiritual and back again.
One day the author recommends following what some of us call our gut instincts and others call our true selves, quieting those inner voices that hold us back from action. A few days later he advises making "slumgullion," a mixture of home fries and scrambled eggs. (Oh yes I tried it! Throw some green pepper in there for a little kick!)
Advice follows on hitchhiking, food to take with you on the road, gift-giving from the heart, breaking the law from time to time, meditation on the go, taking chances, and freeing oneself from the consumerist impulse. The list goes on.
My personal favorite is the advice to drive over the speed limit enough that a whole trip averages an illegal speed -- I AM a lead-foot, after all, and nothing recalls Kerouac's writing to my mind more than to picture Dean Moriarty at the wheel with his foot to the floor weaving around slow-poke half-dead travelers on a mountain road. No mountains in Michigan, but I can approximate!
Which brings us to another of the main elements in the Beat Handbook. This is, throughout, a tribute to Jack Kerouac and a corresponding call to imagine a more free existence than the ones most of us live. Some folks will object to many of the suggestions found inside, but they'll also be missing the point. It's a point Rick Dale makes admirably, even crucially, for our time.
I see it like this: Even Sal (who is really Jack) walks away from Dean and the road life. This walking away is a necessary element, a balance to Dean's complete inability to act as a responsible adult. But Sal brings with him the memory of those wild rides and with those memories something vital, something our safety-first culture tends to miss.
My advice: pick up a copy and build some of your own Beat memories to live on before it's too late. Pick up a copy of On the Road while you're at it. And don't forget to "go go go!"
Ever wonder What Kerouac would do Today if.............?
Rick Dale guides you through a fantastic maze of excerpts from 2 of Kerouacs' classic books, The Road and Dharma Bums. Rick offers up wonderful, and in some cases life changing, activities (or as Rick calls them "Kerouactivities")to participate in!
Take my advice, read the book once, take a few notes along the way, then on your second read do as many of the Kerouactivities you can!
You may find yourself doing something as fulfilling as making a list of places you need to visit, listing your life priorities, giving away your favorite material possession or doing something as fun and liberating as peeing in your backyard or eating a homemade piece of apple pie and ice cream at a great roadside diner you have never been to before!
This book is for everyone not just Kerouac Fans.
Buy this book, read it at least twice, do at least half of the Kerouactivities, and pass the book on to someone else to enjoy..Recycle this book, or do what I do and carry it with you in your new used canvas rucksack (read the book and you will know what I mean!)