skye's Reviews > Big Sur

Big Sur by Jack Kerouac
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U 50x66
's review
Dec 27, 2010

really liked it
Read in November, 2010

** spoiler alert ** It had been a while since I read Kerouac, and I had been let down by "Dharma Bums" after "On the Road"... but after we biked through Big Sur (SF to LA) this summer, I thought I could get into this. I do love reading books about places I've been. (Or going to places from books: Desolation Peak, Crater Peak, Hozomeen: here I come!)

This book was a great addition to the Road/Dharma series, and I thought it had Road's zing that Dharma kind of lacked... It had absolutely great descriptions of the land & sea & weather.

And it is a profoundly incredible telling of psyche breakdown, utter crack snap... recovery. Chilling, but rare to really get inside the head of a breakdown. Ginsberg called it a description of delirium tremens (from alcohol), but the way it happens felt more like a straight-up existential breakdown.

On Big Sur, Kerouac came face to face with mortality. Face to face, it destroyed his happy Buddhist notions of peace & harmony & death-being-OK. (This is like how the painting of the dead Christ affected the characters in "The Idiot" by Dostoevsky...) Mortality wins. That's enough to shake the psyche off its rocker...
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