Book reviews

Archive for the ‘Kerouac – Jack’ Category

The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac


Seriously, was Jack Kerouac taking a lend of the reading public when he wrote The Dharma Bums?

I love ‘Beatnik’ art, so I expected to love The Dharma Bums, but instead found the characters and the story to be irritatingly self-indulgent. The narrator’s long rambling sentences, which started somewhere, then took meandering detours before ending someplace entirely different, also annoyed me enormously.

Actually travelling with Ray Smith, the Zen Buddhist narrator of The Dharma Bums, would probably ‘do my head in’, as my husband says when other people’s less than rational behaviour annoys him. Let’s hope I never have to attend a poetry jam session with Ray and his peers, or have a sexual relationship where everyone shares themselves with everyone else (!) I’m not going mountain climbing with one pair of good walking shoes shared between two people either, or eating bulgar, even with bacon. Ray Smith’s life is definitely not for me.

I honestly can’t decide if Jack Kerouac was making fun of his characters and the ‘beat’ generation, or if he was sincere. I have read that his books are based on his own experiences, but still…

I read On The Road years ago, so was already familiar with Jack Kerouac’s distinctive style. I wish I understood what makes other people think his writing so good, because I just don’t get it. I admit his name is very cool though. Jack Kerouak. Say it aloud and see what I mean, the three ‘ck’ sounds are cool.

Obviously my own world-view is influencing me to the point where I just don’t get this lifestyle, this author or this book. Jack Kerouak is very hard on the middle class, and that is what I am. I work full time, and run my household and family with military-like precision in order to find ten precious minutes to read each day. Possibly I’m jealous. The main character did get to spend a whole summer on top of a mountain doing fire watch alone. Sounds like heaven. If ever I get to spend a summer doing the same, I won’t be reading any more Jack Kerouac books though. Not my style. I’m too judgemental.




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