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Big Sur (Duluoz Legend)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  23,066 Ratings  ·  859 Reviews
'Big Sur' is a moving account of a man coming to terms with his own myth, his own talent and his uncontrollable, unrelenting, self-destructive life. Now approaching middle-age, Jack Duluoz retreats to California to escape the pressures of his fame."
Paperback, 188 pages
Published February 1st 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 1962)
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(showing 1-30)
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Joshua Boydstun
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
Oct 15, 2016 Elyse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was in Saint Petersburg, Florida this past spring...( I'm going for a week again this coming December)...I noticed that in every book store I visited...Jack Kerouac's books were on display. He died in Saint Petersburg in 1969....yet his presence is still felt today in 2106 in Saint Pete.

So, when I discovered "Big Sur", was a $1.99 Kindle special recently --( having not read it) --I bought it. The writing is intimate from the start.

Now -- since reading "Big Sur", I want to rent the movie
Leile Brittan
May 02, 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
Sep 21, 2012 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 17, 2014 Angela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2013 Sonja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rebecca Matson
Jul 14, 2011 Rebecca Matson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 19, 2012 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
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
Dec 04, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 13, 2014 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Joel Lacivita
Jul 25, 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
Sep 05, 2011 Jodi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
A world weary Kerouac seeks a physical and spiritual retreat...I so wish he would have found both and stayed with us a little longer.
Mar 12, 2011 Richard rated it liked it
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
Mar 22, 2012 Liam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alcoholics and/or writers
Recommended to Liam by: My dad
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 salvati ...more
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
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Aug 21, 2008 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 01, 2015 Bert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 18, 2008 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 09, 2016 Larissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 03, 2017 Marina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: _fiction, usa, lost-2017
I had already read this book as a teen, let's say 15 to 20 years ago. It went straight to my favorites at the time - not so this time around. First, let me clarify: as a teen I read most of the books written by Kerouac, all of them in Italian because my English at the time was basically non-existent, I was still studying it in school. Now I've read this book in English - it was a gift from a dear friend, she gave it to me many years ago but I only read it now, because at the time I found Kerouac ...more
Nov 30, 2012 Jonathon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 22, 2012 Mel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first time I read this I thought I would also have a three week bender when my cat died. But now I've quit drinking instead I decided to re-read this and see Kerouac's grief about loosing his cat. This time the horror of the bender didn't seem as terrifying as the awfulness of the people he ended up on it with. It really was a desperate look at how awful alcoholism is. It makes it extra sad that he could articulate that so clearly, and yet still die from it a few years later. I think it safe ...more
Josh Woods
Nov 17, 2009 Josh Woods rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 24, 2008 Nathan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 02, 2015 Bloodorange rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 04, 2017 lydia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
“An awful realization that I have been fooling myself all my life thinking there was a next thing to do to keep the show going and actually I'm just a sick clown and so is everybody else.”

I have been avoiding writing this review for a long time. Jack Kerouac is an author I will always hold dear; his free spirit, his unquenched thirst for life and adventure, along with his unique writing style set him apart from any other author I’ve come across.

Kerouac was born on March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Mass
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • First Third & Other Writings - Revised & Expanded Edition Together With A New Prologue
  • 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)
Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac 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.

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

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“It always makes me proud to love the world somehow- hate's so easy compared.” 555 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.” 437 likes
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