Liam's Reviews > Big Sur

Big Sur by Jack Kerouac
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's review
Jun 11, 2012

really liked it
Recommended to Liam by: My dad
Recommended for: Alcoholics and/or writers
Read from March 22 to June 10, 2012 — I own a copy

Christ jesus, Jack Kerouac. You made me sit on an overturned newspaper box on the corner of 14th and 8th at 10:30 PM on a Sunday night and race to finish your book before my eyes, unglasses'd, lost their focus. It's not writing. Nor is it typing. Instead, Big Sur is the hangover to On The Road's glorious golden binge. In it, Jack Duluoz is stuck in an endless cycle of slugging down cheap wine and drifting from party to adventure to mistake in San Francisco. He achieves a kind of peaceful salvation in his buddy's wilderness cabin along the roaring coast of Big Sur, scribbling free verse by the nighttime sea cliffs and chopping wood and feeding a mouse. But it's the early 60's and his book On The Road has gotten him crowned King Of The Beats; naturally, this does not solve problems as much as it creates them. Dean Moriarty, aka Cody Pomeray, enters the picture, but whereas in OTR Dean was the sparking mainspring that spurred Sal Paradise onward and upward (with a little help from his auntie, of course), here he's pushing 40 just like Jack, trying to maintain his family despite his continued foibles and flaws. Dark, booze-damaged sex and an ever-dominating sense of unease begin to creep into the usual talking jags and uncaring wackiness of the Beats. Never quite unable to outrun the DT's, Jack makes one last trip to Big Sur with his companions, and there, as he puts it, "sees the Cross". Harrowing. As. Shit.

My father, who gave me this book on my 21st birthday saying "read this after your first pub crawl" (too late) describes this as the penultimate book in what could have been Kerouac's great narrative of life, the final volume being his ultimately finding sobriety. Which, of course, he never did; he died choking on unclotted blood fountaining from a liver too exhausted to save itself. Looking forward to seeing the movie of this; wait a few months and maybe I can double-bill it with the similarly upcoming On The Road movie. Should be interesting.
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03/22/2012 page 68
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message 1: by Joel (new)

Joel Liam, I love your writing, man.

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