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Big Sur (Duluoz Legend)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  20,776 Ratings  ·  759 Reviews
"Each book by Jack Kerouac is unique, a telepathic diamond. With prose set in the middle of his mind, he reveals consciousness itself in all its syntactic elaboration, detailing the luminous emptiness of his own paranoiac confusion. Such rich natural writing is nonpareil in later half XX century, a synthesis of Proust, Céline, Thomas Wolfe, Hemingway, Genet, Thelonius Monk ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published 1992 by Penguin Books (first published 1962)
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On the Road by Jack KerouacThe Dharma Bums by Jack KerouacBig Sur by Jack KerouacThe Subterraneans by Jack KerouacDesolation Angels by Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac's Best
3rd out of 19 books — 88 voters
On the Road by Jack KerouacHowl and Other Poems by Allen GinsbergThe Dharma Bums by Jack KerouacNaked Lunch by William S. BurroughsJunky by William S. Burroughs
Beat Lit
8th out of 165 books — 143 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Joshua Boydstun
Mar 24, 2011 Joshua Boydstun rated it really liked it
Kerouac is a paradox. He's simultaneously over-rated and under-rated. His worst books (particularly On the Road) are iconic and uncritically adored by teenagers and hippy-dippy morons, while his best works are overlooked.

Big Sur ranks among his best. It's Kerouac at his lowest, having been devoured by fame and digested by the vast chasm that lies between the saint he's imagined to be and the bitter, depressed, exiled, alcoholic that he really is.

Kerouac is astoundingly frank in describing his de
Leile Brittan
May 16, 2007 Leile Brittan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kerouac's last stand, for all intents and purposes. The Beat Legend is in top form here, as he describes as best as we could ask him to the sickness and insanity that plagued his final years, shortly after the publication of On the Road. We watch in horror and sometimes sick fascination as his mind and body deteriorate under the pressures of the bottle, the sudden fame, and the sadness of existence which took his life just a few years after the novel's publication. I couldn't help but feel guilt ...more
Apr 01, 2016 Mark rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
Should you read this book? Well, to quote Jack Kerouac himself, “I don't know, I don't care, and it doesn't make any difference."

What inspired me to read Big Sur, which I somehow skipped in all earlier Kerouac stints, was Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar's 2009 LP: One Fast Move Or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur. If you've not heard about the album, its genesis was Kerouac’s nephew Jim Sampas requesting songwriter Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt) to compose some songs based on the Big Sur text for the
Jeff Mirabilis
Jan 07, 2008 Jeff Mirabilis rated it it was amazing
I think this is Kerouac's most honest work. On the Road is awesome and I love it's exuberance for life and experience, but it's ultimately a book of youth- all go go go without a thought or consideration of others or consequences. that's fine when you're 25, 26, 27... but as I've gotten older, I've come to regard On the Road as somewhat "blind" exuberance... and Big Sur is the cliff that Kerouac jumps right off full speed with his eyes open. Big Sur is a crack-up book and it shows how Kerouac lo ...more
Mar 19, 2014 Angela rated it it was amazing
Grabbed Big Sur after avoiding it for sometime. Grabbed Big Sur as I walked out the door for my third solo trip to Big Sur. Because I had had enough. Enough of everything. As I said to someone on my way out, "I just need to not talk to anybody for a little bit."

So I grabbed Big Sur, not knowing exactly what it was about.

I bombed the curves of Big Sur, passing people I shouldn't have passed.

Got to my campsite, and set up camp. After people told me I shouldn't, no, I *couldn't* camp alone. I'm a
Jan 22, 2014 Sonja rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Jack Kerouac is not for everyone. "It's not writing, it's typing." said Truman Capote. I have read a good amount of Kerouac and his contemporaries' works. Usually I would rank him 3 to 4 stars.

Big Sur is different. The book stays with me. It's bittersweet. It follows the same character line-up, the people in Kerouac's novel, are people from his real life, Neal Cassady, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, etc. It is very helpful to know which characters refer to specific people.
The focus is
Aug 24, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A te, che sei rimasto con Jack fino proprio alla fine.

Mi perdoni J.K.Rowling se mi permetto di parafrasare il più famoso slogan legato ai suoi libri, peraltro reso orrendamente in italiano.

Big Sur non è l’ultimo romanzo di Kerouac in ordine di tempo (ne seguiranno ancora tre), ma è qui che comincia il lento suicidio dello scrittore “profeta” spaccato in eterno tra le rassicurazioni della vita familiare e l’inquieta brama di gloria, tra la città e la metropoli, ecc. La vicenda si apre con l’ennes
Rebecca Matson
Jul 14, 2011 Rebecca Matson rated it it was amazing
Big Sur is the second Jack Kerouac work that I've committed myself to reading. The first was On The Road, which I left about a third of the way in. I was unable to connect to it at the time. I feel that reading Big Sur at this specific time in my life was an excellent choice being that many of the topics Kerouac touches on in this work are the same as those I've been mentally wrestling with in the past several months, i.e. human interconnectedness, role of love in the chaos of life, relationship ...more
Mar 12, 2011 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I read this book today to celebrate Ti Jean's eighty-ninth birthday and to say "thank you" to the first guy who really inspired me to write.

"Big Sur" is a roman a clef, an all-too-true story of a man haunted by the wrong kind of fame. Our tale opens in 1960. "On the Road" has hit disenfranchised post-war American youth like a tsunami of lava and all of a sudden newspaper reporters and misguided opportunists want to pigeonhole its author, our hero, as a long-haired twenty-year old king beatnik. B
Jul 10, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
The most harrowing account of alooholism I have ever read. As a recovering alcoholic myself, I found I could relate to his story, as I can also to Kerouac's life. This was a well written book, (some of his quite frankly are not). As he descended into alcoholism he could no longer write with any real coherence, and became an obnoxious fool who was no longer taken seriously anywhere, and was no longer wanted anywhere, not even in his hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts. The kind hearted and softspok ...more
Oct 05, 2009 Tamarasoo rated it it was ok
ok i still have a few pages left of jack's drunken manic breakdown, but i have to say that i am just not impressed with kerouac, at least not based on what i've read. i read on the road years ago, and all i really remember is that i wasn't significantly impressed with it, and i couldn't get past his misogyny. And now, 20 years later, I feel the same way. I respect kerouac for what he was at the time, the new kind of literature he helped create, the irreverence for convention, the love of art and ...more
Jul 15, 2009 Rob rated it liked it
Shelves: reread
the delerium tremens after the party - bleak, despairing, claustrophobic, and frightening, the yin to "on the road"'s yang. this is the aesthetic line in the sand where the lantern-jawed, photogenic, exultant kerouac of the 40s and 50s meets the boozy reactionary mama's boy shut-in of the 60s.

in short, the other side of the coin.
Mar 14, 2015 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, the-west, cool
No one, and I mean no one, writes alcoholic horror better than Jack. This book is powerful for those of us who have fought the demon. Jack, of course, succumbed to it and this savagely beautiful work was simply a precursor.
Jonathan LaPoma
Nov 26, 2015 Jonathan LaPoma rated it it was amazing
Jack Kerouac was already one of my favorite authors before I started on Big Sur, but now he's even higher up my list. I'd fallen in love with his prose in The Dharma Bums and On The Road, but the writing in Big Sur is on another level. I'm aware that Kerouac is a controversial author and is often criticized for his exuberant naiveté, but I've always found something pure, beautiful, and--more importantly--useful in his ideals, no matter how romantic or ill-advised. But here, those ideals are a li ...more
Jul 03, 2014 Jonathon rated it it was ok
So far, too flowery/romancticy language (the sea can't talk to you asshole, it's water; put down the bottle...). What a drunk pussy...Whining about bats getting stuck in his hair? Jesus, be a man for Chrissake... (never mind that moth that made me scream like a little girl last night when I tried to swat it out of my bedroom)...

I hope this is a story of a 40 year old man-child coming to age and becoming a man at 40. That is what I really want...Maybe Kerouac isn't drinking enough? I cant tell if
Jan 24, 2008 Nathan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: enthusiastic bathers
This is Jack Kerouac's novel where he was basically catatonic and spending his time drinking in the bathtub. But I still liked this, although I don't remember it very well. It also got me into the habit of reading in the bathtub, (he reads a lot in the bathtub in the novel itself, when he isn't drinking) which is something I still do from time to time. No, I'm not afraid of dropping the book in the water. I'm willing to take that chance.
Joel Lacivita
Aug 02, 2015 Joel Lacivita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book about the demons of Jack Kerouac. If the reader doesn’t know anything about Kerouac and/or had never read any of this books, this novel will not have the same meaning. Having personally read some of his books, especially the Dharma Bums, If found this book to very interesting, and like nothing else I had read. It’s basically about Jack, in 1960, trying to deal with his fame being known as the most famous beatnik. As we know now, he really looked at himself as more of an author than ...more
Jun 15, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it
Read from my 1962 reading list, this is the third Kerouac novel I have read. (The Road, Dharma Bums are the others.) I am even more impressed.

Don't get me wrong, it is not a happy book. In fact, it is the most disturbing of the three. But his power to describe: the natural world, the intricacies of friendship, the inner life. And the sheer propulsive energy of the writing. Finally, he captured in all these books a lost era, the Beat generation, an important, if under-the-radar, element of Amer
Oct 15, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
I did not think I would like Jack Kerouac after having been away from him for so long -- oh, say, half a century. But then I read David Halberstam's The Fifties; and I thought I was missing something in my knowledge of that time, a time which I lived through only comprehending a small part of what I saw.

Big Sur is like a triptych consisting of three trips that Jack takes, alone or with friends, to the Raton Canyon cabin of Lorenzo Monsanto (whom I think is none other than Lawrence Ferlinghetti,
Josh Woods
Nov 23, 2009 Josh Woods rated it it was amazing
Big Sur may be Kerouac's most intrusive work. As "autobiographical" as his other works may be, Big Sur gives the reader a glimpse into the darkest recesses of Kerouac's mind. His expression of paranoia, depression, and the wrecking effects of alcohol abuse are among his most insightful. His ever present consciousness combined with his crippling Catholic guilt and irrepressible delirium tremens portray the hopeless entrapment he feels as his mind is swallowed up by alcohol and the 'madness' that ...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Aug 28, 2008 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: my 15 year old self
My ratings for several books are based on how I felt about them when I read them. Several books that I loved/"really liked" I don't feel similarly about any longer, to put as simply and as fairly as possible. Kerouac is probably a perfect example of this. I loved reading about the melancholy psychological and geographical wanderings of Mr. Kerouac and his friends when I was 15 years old. It spoke to me in that way that people will describe books like On The Road and Catcher in the Rye as speak ...more
Nov 07, 2011 Jodi rated it it was amazing
Big Sur is a gem plain and simple. Anyone familiar with Kerouac's style will sink into the friendly embrace of his stream-of-consciousness style, while at the same time be stunned by it's blunt honesty. This is Kerouac at his sincerest and most human. In this book, we encounter Jack Kerouac reflecting on his success from On the Road, and desperate for an escape from the lifestyle that he's created for himself. Unwittingly, Kerouac provides his readers precisely what he himself is seeking: an esc ...more
Feb 10, 2016 Larissa rated it really liked it
I had to give it four stars because
1) the shitty translation I read was shitty (and I blame L&PM Pocket in Brazil for that)
2) Kerouac's maturity is awfully scary
Mar 21, 2014 Rand marked it as to-read
Just as I never made it to Point Reyes or Big Sur during my time in Cali, i somehow I never finished reading this book during my teen Beat phase. Or maybe I did go there and had also finished reading this book? Fuck if I know.

Funny how the page count is not as high as I recall. Maybe I was afraid of the lack of paragraph breaks? Maybe a raccoon stole my glasses?

Anyhoo, Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar have a new music thing which lifts words from this book.
May 25, 2015 Bloodorange rated it did not like it
Shelves: us, beat-generation
I really wanted to give it two stars out of some residual reverence for Kerouac I still have. But no. Just no. This is, to me, Kerouac at his worst; his novels usually are much more plot- and character-driven, and this book demonstrates how crucial these two things are to his prose. In Big Sur, he turns his mirror on himself, and boy, what a woeful spectacle this is. Ignore for your own good, unless you are a relentless completist.
Apr 19, 2016 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-owned
Here is Kerouac at his most vulnerable, a middle aged man grappling with a rapidly approaching old age that he would never live to experience, dealing with his demons, including deteriorating health, loss of virility, and fear of death. He also comes to terms with the emptiness of his adherence to Buddhism, and the loneliness and isolation of his fame. We even see Kerouac grappling with the death of his beloved cat, Tyke. It's dark and difficult to read at times, especially knowing how Kerouac's ...more
Jul 20, 2015 Yanper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ένα βιβλίο που έγραψε μέσα σε 10 ημέρες και που δεν ξέφυγε από τον τρόπο γραφής των προηγούμενων.
Ο Τόμας Πίντσον έγραψε για τον Κέρουακ "ήταν χωρίς αμφιβολία, μια γνήσια περίπτωση μεγαλοφυϊας: χωρίς ιδιαίτερη μόρφωση, με άστατες γνώσεις κι ακόμα πιο άστατο συναισθηματικό κόσμο, άλλαξε το πρόσωπο της λογοτεχνίας, έστω και μ' αυτές τις χιλιάδες φλύαρες και βαρετές πολλές φορές σελίδες. Ότι έκανε το έκανε με μόνο εφόδιο ένα στραπατσαρισμένο συναίσθημα. Περιθωριοποιημένος και μόνος, χωρίς συμπαραστ
Dec 06, 2015 Bert rated it it was amazing
Always a joy to pick up Kerouac after however many years, and to have it hit you bam in the kundalini again just like he always did - and am also grateful to have left Big Sur so late - so it didn't immediately sour the mad joy of his earlier novels, this being somewhat of a hangover novel, albeit a beautiful tormented hangover. Drunk old Kerouac here then, he's seriously all over the place, a mess, sick of the Beats 'The circle's closed in on the old heroes of the night' and suffering what he c ...more
Much of Kerouac's work has a preoccupation with death. Even at his most joyous zenith, there is always that shrouded stranger chasing young hipsters and dharma bums from place to place.

But in Big Sur the preoccupation becomes a mad man's obsession. Jack Dulouz (Kerouac's Surian alterego) ventures from country to city, from city to country, and back and forth a million times; and while the setting changes, he finds himself consistently heartbroken over the death of things--ottters, his youth, his
Sep 08, 2012 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012, yanks
Well, this book starts off quite interestingly, with Kerouac apparently aiming to write his own version of Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Quite intriguing, I thought. He is also funny and sardonic about the success of On the Road and the experience of becoming a cult figure among teenagers when he was actually approaching forty! However, at some point not too far into this book, he lapses back into his On the Road persona, interspersing accounts of car journeys with accounts of drinking bouts and ...more
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  • The First Third
  • Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg
  • Go
  • Jack Kerouac: Angelheaded Hipster
  • Kerouac: A Biography
  • Kaddish and Other Poems
  • The Wild Boys
  • Memoirs of a Beatnik
  • Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir
  • The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation
  • Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution
  • Gasoline & The Vestal Lady on Brattle
  • Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac
  • Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They're Not What You Think)
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
  • Dr. Sax
  • The Town and the City
  • Maggie Cassidy
  • Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46
  • On the Road
  • Visions of Cody
  • The Subterraneans
  • Tristessa

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“It always makes me proud to love the world somehow- hate's so easy compared.” 519 likes
“On soft Spring nights I'll stand in the yard under the stars - Something good will come out of all things yet - And it will be golden and eternal just like that - There's no need to say another word.” 414 likes
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