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Lonesome Traveler Paperback – January 14, 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack Kerouac was born in 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. The best-known of his many works, On the Road, published in 1957, was an international bestseller. He died in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the age of forty-seven.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reissue edition (January 14, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802130747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802130747
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
Though it has been a while since I have read this book, I found it distressing that there were no reviews of it in this area.
I know very many of you love Kerouac's works and styles, so I hope that this book will be given it's due attention. Its contents are five short stories or sketches that move around the central theme of travel. A sketch about the "railroad earth" written in spontaneous style is quite riveting, and here you will have a chance to read what seems to be an early sketch of the fire tower section from "Dharma Bums".
I hope these suggestions will have you picking up a copy of this wonderful book
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Format: Paperback
"Creative non-fiction" is a come lately term but it fits Jack Kerouac's 1960 account of his real life travels and experiences. The spontaneous, experimental style that marks his fiction is in high use in Lonesome Traveler, particularly in the chapter devoted to the railroad. In that piece, language becomes a mimic of the sounds and rhythms of the environment in which he works, the Southern Pacific runs between San Francisco and San Jose in the early 1950's. Forget words and structure as you know it, but don't worry about getting lost in the prose. If you trust Kerouac, he won't let you get lost, he brings you home in the end. As he visits Mexico, the shipping lanes, the streets of New York, a lone fire look-out on Desolation Peak in Washington State, and Europe, he speaks openly of what drives him. The last chapter is an ode to the vanishing hobo whose ethic he has embraced; as this was written, our changing society was transforming hobos into vagrant criminals and the homeless problem, extinguishing their culture with suspicion and policing. Kerouac is both Thoreau and the hobo, the fine or wide line depending upon how you look at it being his education and pursuit of spirituality.
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Format: Paperback
I recently bought this book as a present for my daughter
to read and that prompted me to fish out my old road worn
copy which I carried around religiously during the days her
mother and I bummed around the western US & Mexico.
Kerouac always had the ability to spiritualize the
experience for me. This book exemplifies his respect
and admiration for those individuals who have forsworn the
luxuries of a normal life for the intrisically demanding
rigors of the spiritual quest. Rereading this book had
me aching to be back on the road once again. Want to do
Mexico again, Angela?
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Format: Paperback
Kerouac's "Lonesome Traveler" (1960)is a collection of eight travel essays, several of which had been published earlier. Kerouac offers insights 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.
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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.
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