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Jack Kerouac: Road Novels 1957-1960
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Jack Kerouac: Road Novels 1957-1960

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  212 ratings  ·  15 reviews
The raucous, exuberant, often wildly funny account of a journey through America and Mexico, Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" instantly defined a generation upon its publication in 1957: it was, in the words of a "New York Times" reviewer, "the clearest and most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as 'beat.'" Written in the mode of ecs ...more
Hardcover, 900 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Library of America
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James Murphy
I'm rereading Kerouac this year, through this LOA volume and a separate copy of Visions of Cody. The 2 stars are for The Dharma Bums. I believe On the Road to be a good novel. I remember thinking the travel essays collected as Lonesome Traveler to be the finest prose Kerouac ever wrote. But revisiting The Dharma Bums after 50 years or so I see only high, grand sophomoric. It's a long gush. We can consider On the Road to be an extended hosanna to Neal Cassady. Similarly, The Dharma Bums is a jubi ...more
Came across this collection when I was looking for copies of Tristessa and The Subterraneans. I'd already read On the Road several times, and Dharma Bums once a few years ago, but read them both again, and it strikes me that Kerouac's work gets better with the re-reading: I find the "spontaneous bop prosody" (or whatever Ginsberg referred to it as) difficult to read at times, I find myself getting lost in it, and losing the sense of it, and eventually sitting there thinking: this is ridiculous, ...more
Mad Russian the Traveller
08/17/2011 Update:
I liked "Lonesome Traveler" as much as "On the Road", and in fact the last section of Lonesome Traveler, "The Vanishing American Hobo", portrays the tightening noose of anti-liberty in America starting at the fringes. Today the noose is so tight that we are starting to choke. You couldn't have Walt Whitman today (he'd be arrested) unless he was on a government grant and had papers to prove it. Anyway the collection is worth reading for completeness.


08/12/2011 Post:
I'm final
Feb 27, 2008 Simon marked it as to-read
Reading for Robin’s book club, sometime in 2008. Read The Dharma Bums (and Visions of Gerard) long ago in high school. My old mass market paperback is nestled in a box in the basement, which is beginning to resemble the government facility (Smithsonian? National Archives?) to which the Ark of the Covenant is taken in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Or, are the book boxes really just a California King size bed for the resident felines? (Is all ‘bout tha kittehs, ya dig?)

(Books and kittehs go together li
{This review applies only to On The Road. I did not read all the novels in this volume, but wanted to accurately show which edition I had read.}

I had always felt a bit of hesitation about reading On The Road because I thought it was about debauchery and drugs and recklessness. Then I found out that Kerouac had dabbled in Buddhism and thought perhaps I had always just confused OTR with Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and decided I should give it a shot. Of course, when I init
Kerouac’s freeform novels are brilliant poetic allegories of the psychosis in the American Dream, and his road novels (four of which are included here, with essay collection Lonesome Traveler) reveal this conflict between individuality and conformity in their stark thematic contrasts – independence & alliance (On the Road), isolation & assimilation (The Dharma Bums), iconoclast & outcast (The Subterraneans), singularity & dependence (Tristessa) – and stylistic extremes – the crea ...more
GK Stritch
Happy Birthday, Jack! (March 12, 1922)

The only Jack for me are the mad Jacks,
the Jacks who are Jack to live,
mad to Jack,
mad to be Jacked,
desirous of everything at the same Jack,
the Jacks who never yawn or say a commonplace thing,
but burn, Jack, burn,
like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding
like Jacks across the stars

poem "Jean-Louis Wept"
Ken French
Just re-read The Dharma Bums, which first introduced me to Zen Buddhism back in my early 20s. Disappointed, now that I've studied and practiced Zen, to see how loose Kerouac's interpretation was. His characters are often judgmental drunks; neither quality is very Zen.
John Orman
With the classic "On the Road" are added 4 other books and some journal writings. "On the Road" is by far the best well known--I had never heard of the other books, though their titles are intriguing-- The Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans, etc. Most are not as entertaining as On the Road, though Lonesome Traveler was of interest for its description of time spent as a fire lookout in the Mt. Baker Forest in Washington. And the essay "The Vanishing American Hobo" is quite a paean to that hardy Ameri ...more
This collection has its highlights and its lowlights. This was my first time reading Kerouac, and this was a nice introduction to his style. While his "spontaneous prose" confused me horribly in some of his novels, it kept the pace quick and interesting in others. I liked that at the end of this particular collection, journal entries and a chronology were provided. The chronology, in particular, provided some helpful insight in better understanding the man behind the novels.
I'm only 50 pages into "On the Road," Kerouac's autobiographical account of his early journeyings across America, but so far it's great fun as he bounces from place to place seeking adventure. He's crazy and I wouldn't have wanted to run into his crowd, but it's sure fun to read about those days. Most of the characters are based on historical figures, including Allen Ginsburg.
Not surprising, my favorite novels in this collection are On the Road and Dharma Bums.
For a Beats book discussion series this summer...

Not my cup of tea.
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  • The Sheltering Sky, Let it Come Down, The Spider's House
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, A Death in the Family, and Shorter Fiction
  • Later Novels
  • Main Street / Babbitt
  • The House of Mirth / The Reef / The Custom of the Country / The Age of Innocence
  • Baldwin: Early Novels and Stories
  • Historical Romances
  • Novels, 1944-1953
  • Collected Essays and Poems
  • Novels, 1967-1972: When She Was Good / Portnoy's Complaint / Our Gang / The Breast
  • Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters
  • Complete Novels: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter / Reflections in a Golden Eye / The Ballad of the Sad Cafe / The Member of the Wedding / Clock Without Hands
  • Collected Novels
  • Novels, 1930-1935
  • Novels and Stories: The Call of the Wild/White Fang/The Sea-Wolf/Klondike and Other Stories
  • Collected Plays 1944-1961
  • Novels and Other Writings : The Dream Life of Balso Snell / Miss Lonelyhearts / A Cool Million / The Day of the Locust / Letters (Library of America)
  • Complete Novels: The Robber Bridegroom, Delta Wedding, The Ponder Heart, Losing Battles, The Optimist's Daughter
Born on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Jack Kerouac's writing career began in the 1940s, but didn't meet with commercial success until 1957, when On the Road was published. The book became an American classic that defined the Beat Generation. Kerouac died on October 21, 1969, from an abdominal hemorrhage, at age 47.
Early Life

Famed writer Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Keroua
More about Jack Kerouac...
On the Road The Dharma Bums Big Sur The Subterraneans Desolation Angels

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