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Dr. Sax (Duluoz Legend)

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  2,107 ratings  ·  88 reviews
“Kerouac dreams of America in the authentic rolling rhythms of a Whitman or a Thomas Wolfe, drunk with eagerness for life.”—John K. Hutchens
Paperback, 245 pages
Published January 13th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1959)
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On the Road by Jack KerouacThe Dharma Bums by Jack KerouacBig Sur by Jack KerouacThe Subterraneans by Jack KerouacOn the Road by Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac's Best
14th out of 19 books — 80 voters
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Jeff Buckley's Bookshelf
35th out of 158 books — 35 voters

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Community Reviews

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Oh God--what a magnificent book with language so beautiful that I have to gasp between sentences. Kerouac himself said it was his personal favorite (while drunk during an interview for Italian tv). No one--I mean, no one--has ever captured the terrible magic and mystery of childhood lost better than Ti Jean.
Garrett Cook
Jun 30, 2008 Garrett Cook rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: surrealists, bizarro novelists, beatniks
Dr. Sax is a cool, surreal and proficient beat novel. The narrative dream logic glides through a world of magical realism surrounding the protagonist's life. Beautiful, sometimes profane, always interesting, I consider this Kerouac's best. A potent flight of the imagination.
The subtitle of the novel is “Faust Part Three”. The scene is Textile town - working class blue collar drudge-filled. Beyond the dark woods and the brown-ominous serpentine Merrimac River lies the Castle, near the corner of Bridge and 16th, including vampire Count Condu flown from Budapest, and mysterious green-faced creeping caped Doctor Sax from Butte, all haunting Jack Kerouac’s childhood and memories in Lowell.

This is an awesome read, filled alternately with sad incredibly effective nostalg
Jack Beltane
Thing is, most of Kerouac's work is not linear and neat and tidy. It's poorly punctuated stream-of-consciousness, skipping from image to image to emotion to sensation. So if you think you like Kerouac because you liked On the Road, you may not like this book. And if you only like Kerouac when he's writing traditionally crafted fiction, then maybe you just don't like Kerouac.

Not all of Kerouac's books deserve 4 or 5 stars, but this one earned it. The genius of it is that he recounts--as if he wer
Forget, for the moment, about On the Road: anyone about to read Kerouac should start here. Dr. Sax is the crystallization of Kerouac’s creative integrity and vision. Here, his style is unencumbered by the editorial “corrections” that helped make On the Road a best-seller, but compromised its thematic execution – and the imagination that produced the mythical Dr. Sax is the same that, in the guise of Sal Paradise, seeks redemption. Here, revealed in its purest realization, is the source of the lo ...more
This was a sad read for me, marking the time in my life when I definitively fell out of love with Kerouac. There are, to be sure, flashes of brilliance in Dr. Sax, but the overall meandering stream of consciousness (this time trying to recapture his adolescence) left me underwhelmed, without an authentic point of connection. Kerouac, for me, now becomes one of those authors that I like the idea of, more than the reality of reading their work.
It took me a couple of times to get through Dr. Sax. Kerouac is my favorite and I feel a crazy connection with him, but for heaven's sake...

You can tell that this was written when he was hanging out with stupid, trippy Burroughs. It has a lot of the Electric Kool-Aid test in it - as in disturbing imagery, nonsense alliteration, etc.

The times that I really started to enjoy it was when he left the Dr. Sax part (even though the imagery of the great snake, that might be made up of doves, is someth
This actually applies to the audio-play (best I can describe a screenplay turned into an audiobook).

Well, it was interesting. Not bad, and it's hard to complain too much about a work that's that short. It would have been a fairly good kid's fantasy story along the lines of something Neil Gaiman might have written, except Kerouac was deliberately messy with the narrative and added a lot of unnecessary strange language. Of course, the reason this is called "Dr. Sax" instead of "Dr. Violin" is that
Meghan Fidler
Doctor Sax is best read aloud. The style which Jack Kerouac writes in, a self proclaimed 'spontaneous prose,' makes the early portions of the novel frustrating (indeed, not until I was able to figure out that the story of Doctor Sax is a momentary residence within the imagination of a young boy, I thought Kerouac's 1-2 page chapter "style" was one created from smoking a joint and writing only as long as the high lasted)...(I tell you this, dear reader, so that you may sit back and enjoy the devi ...more
This is my first review for this site for any book I've listed. "Dr. Sax" was one of the last Kerouac books I had to read. I've been reading his work for the past sixteen years, studied Kerouac and his works in college as an undergrad, and I continue to read his books and love them. So, with that said, I had heard about "Dr. Sax" being one of the most unique books Kerouac had ever written; hell, even Carloyn Cassady urged him to write more books like "Dr. Sax" and mentions it in her memoir.

I bo
Jeff Suwak
I love Kerouac, and this is hands down my favorite Kerouac book ever.
Jason Bradshaw
This is certainly one of the stranger books I’ve read. I had (weirdly) only ever read Kerouac’s formative works, Orpheus Emerged as well as And the hippos were boiled in their tanks, up until this point and was totally unprepared for what I was getting myself into with this one. My initial reaction to the book was more towards its writing style, which is entirely in Kerouac’s signature “spontaneous prose” style, which seems to me to be characterized by a complete disregard for grammatical accura ...more
Doctor Sax is yet another one of Kerouac’s experiments with free-verse autobiographical writing, and it tells the story of his childhood in Lowell, Massachusetts. Yet while it might be about his younger years, it was actually written in 1952, when the author was thirty years old and living with William S. Burroughs in Mexico City.

You can tell he was living with Burroughs – the other great stalwart of the beat generation had clearly rubbed off on him, and much of his style can be seen in Kerouac’
Fascinating and dense. It takes time to fully immerse yourself into the flow, and even then its tenuous. There are some genuinely great moments, specifically the bits on the flood. It mostly reads like a fever dream. Try to lose yourself in the insanity of it. Having now read two of Kerouacs childhood reminiscences (this along with Vanity of Duluoz) I think I prefer his more straight-forward approach in Vanity. Still, this is worth a look. ...more
An unreadable book. It's the same several scenes over and over and over and over again in a rambling and rhythmless stream-of-conciousness 'style'. If you love love love Kerouac, maybe you can take this hazy alcoholic spluge-tome, and maybe you'll even convince yourself that you like it, but I really liked Jack Kerouc once, and this was the beginning of the end for me.
Awesome read. Reminiscent of those kid days when you desperately want to grow up but your imagination still wants a play date. This is one of Kerouac's best works simply because it was a book that made you think and reflect on your won life/childhood and reexamine what was lost and gained in the process of "growing up."
Warren Ellis
I remember this wobbling along uncertainly until the last chapter or two, where Kerouac finds his feet and cracks off some of those uniquely revelatory lines that I treasure him for.
Kerouac embellishes images from childhood dreams, interweaves with Depression-era Americana, and creates evil characters more sinister than any old horror movie.
Another book about Kerouac's haunted, dark, sad yet happy childhood. You really get a feel for the town of Lowell, MA.
French-Canadian mythology in the United States. Done in the style of Word-Jazz. It is rare to see a cultural autobiography such as this rare number from Jack Kerouac, who claimed to owe everything he did to his French-Canadian heritage. Brilliant balancing of Joual and English. Acadian flourish layered over Yank dialect. Poetry and fantasy interspliced. Darkness shining through the light. The story is cryptic. Dream and reality fluctuate without warning. Dr. Sax appears and disappears. Should yo ...more
My boyfriend lend me his copy of Doctor Sax, which is in French. Both admirers of Kerouac's works, I decided to write him a little review on an index card, and translated here is basically what is on there, excluding a few spoilers.

One of Kerouac's famed novels, though it cannot reach the popularity of On the Road, Doctor Sax is an interesting read with many flaws.

The first part is too confusing, and yet it is with it that one must enter the story. Kerouac might have never been told this, but e
I pulled a 1959 copy of Doctor Sax off my shelf for my two-day hot springs retreat - I don't remember how I ended up with it, but the spine looked like it had never been cracked, despite some water and sun damage on the ends of the pages. I tore through it in less than two days -- Kerouac's prose rushes on in a torrent, I can surf it in my brain as quickly as my eyes take it in. Reading aloud to the cat named Elvis, I enjoyed the rhythm and the cadence of Kerouac's words even more.

The stories of
this book really surprised me with the breadth of the author's talents; for me he can get a bit full of himself & intoxicated by his own ramblings & the details of his adventures, but as this book is chiefly recollections of his childhood in 1920s Lowell, those adventures have a pure, innocent quality untainted by later debauchery. prowling the fields & alleys w/his pals or playing elaborate games of marbles alone in his room, Kerouac communicates that magical feeling of youth with a ...more
A difficult book to like--confusing and non-sensical, though it does have some moments. I'm a Kerouac fan--I consider On the Road to be one of the best novels of the 20th century, but this one is a jumbled mess. Kerouac is reliving his childhood here and he as always has an amazing memory and eye for detail, but the narrative is almost impossible to get into. Usually, even if there is little to no plot, Kerouac's prose is so smooth and surprising that it will keep you engaged. That was not the c ...more
Kevin Cole
Why can't I rate a book no stars?
I don't hate Kerouac. I think he had potential. He proved that here and there.
But this....
Is this book written in English? I challenge anyone to force themselves to read the entire thing (like I did) and tell me what the hell they just read?
I've given this the same score as 'On the Road' but of the two i'd say this is better. Its 2/3's autobiography of Kerouac as a child and there's a lot of neat little stories and information in these parts.
However every so often it jumps to an abandoned house on a hill, where a host of B-Movie monsters are having a meeting. Its quite weird and there's significant references to 'Lair of the White Worm' and Lovecraft.
One other odd thing is that in 'On the Road' Dr. Sax is mentioned essentially as
A very interesting read quite different from what you have come to expect from Kerouac. This is closer to Naked Lunch than On the Road or Dharma Bums, which makes sense considering he wrote it while camping out in Burrough's bathroom in Mexico City. Incredibly surreal, with haunting nostalgia weaving together the lost memories of Kerouac's childhood in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Regarded by many as Kerouac's "finest novel," but I would say his most experimental. The energy and care that he put into t
Chris LaMay-West
Doctor Sax is a weirdly wonderful book, one of the most unusual, and best, of all of Kerouac's works. On one level, it's an account of boyhood daydreams, and a particular historical event (a great flood in his hometown). In this way, it's a natural continuation of the haunted childhood depicted in Visions of Gerard. On another, it mixes in himself as the present-day narrator, along with dreams from his contemporary life. And on a third, it's a mythic struggle between the mysterious Dr. Sax and a ...more
Unpolished, incomplete.

Looked into some scholarly/critical literature and found this:

"The Love of America that so distinguishes On the Road and Visions of Cody came from Kerouac's own double sense of himself as both American and French Canadian. This idea of Kerouac as a postcolonial writer is confirmed most particularly by his magic-realist novel Doctor Sax, in which Kerouac writes the French-Canadian experience into the American national narrative in a way similar to Salman Rushdie's inscripti
GK Stritch
adolescent Lowell Jack meets scary Dr. Wm S. Sax

poem "Doctor William S. Sax and Bird of Paradise"
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  • Jack's Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac
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  • You'll Be Okay: My Life with Jack Kerouac
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Duluoz Legend (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings
  • Visions of Gerard
  • The Town and the City
  • Maggie Cassidy
  • Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46
  • On the Road
  • Visions of Cody
  • The Subterraneans
  • Tristessa
  • The Dharma Bums
On the Road The Dharma Bums Big Sur The Subterraneans Desolation Angels

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“don't stop to think of the words when you do stop, just stop to think of the picture better-and let your mind off yourself in this work.” 18 likes
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