TC Jones's Reviews > The Subterraneans

The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac
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it was ok

I really wanted to like this book. I tried my hardest to understand its unique style, its flowing movements lacking punctuation, and the free-form stream of conciousness. The problem was, I just couldn't. The narrative itself wasn't all that exciting; a lot of getting drunk and scoring with women, but not anything substantial that makes a worthwhile story.

I had trouble identifying with the characters or even liking them. They were drunk all the time, driven for nothing in life except sex and sex alone. Nothing but a hedenistic band of eclectic "do-nothings."

Even the writing itself was not all that good. The language was dull and lacked description and for long periods at a time meandered off into drug-induced rants that made no real sense to the reader. I found it interesting in a way because I felt like that though these parts were hazy and often unintelligable, it did capture the feeling of being stoned or drunk or both.

After reading "On the Road", "The Dharma Bums", and "The Town and The City" I very much had high hopes for this book too. The only problem is that it didn't deliever the raw excitement and adventure of "On the Road" or the self reflective loneliness of "Dharma Bums", or the emotion of "Town and the City". Some people might enjoy it, and I do recommend it for its uniqueness of style, but as a story as a whole it lacks connectivity and direction.
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Reading Progress

June 29, 2010 – Started Reading
June 29, 2010 – Shelved
June 29, 2010 –
page 31
June 30, 2010 –
page 55
July 1, 2010 –
page 80
July 2, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Tom (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tom O’Connell You've perfectly summed up my thoughts on this one. I too tried to find something of merit after already reading his stronger works, but came off really disappointed. Stylistically it seemed completely overdone. I know that's part the parcel with Kerouac's charm, but some paragraphs dragged and spawned entire pages. It read clumsily and was occasionally unreadable.

It's the first time I've found Kerouac mildly unlikeable. Here he seems jealous, petty, and as you pointed out drunk out of his mind. I prefer the Kerouac that wrestles with his hedonism, and finds appreciation in the smallest of details. This one came across as an ill-spirited hack.

Perhaps we both came into it with the bar set too high?

message 2: by TC (new) - rated it 2 stars

TC Jones I agree Tom. You said it right when you say you prefer the Kerouac that wrestles with hedonism. This story was an all out hedonistic free-for-all.

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