2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, sprawling novel that sprawls and sprawls and sprawls ad nauseum
I hold a great deal of interest in the beat writers and have read a variety of novels from the likes of Burroughs and have read a few books from Ginsberg. Kerouac is undoubtedly the most talented of the three big guns of the Beats.
Kerouac's writing is poetry. The simultaneous amalgam of vivid and surreal scenes gives literally every sentence a touch of beauty...
Published on Sep 1 2008 by Benjamin Anderson
3.0 out of 5 stars Zen Man On a Mountain
Westerners tend to have under-adjusted encounters with Buddhism, because they are usually attached to the 'idea' of their being detached-- a fallacy because Buddhism asserts the 'end of self' altogether. Thus, it is difficult to write about Buddhism in a western context, especially in a first person narrative, which is what Kerouac rather successfully has done. Kerouac is...
Published on Dec 5 2003 by Jimmy Chen
Most Helpful First | Newest First
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, sprawling novel that sprawls and sprawls and sprawls ad nauseum,
This review is from: The Dharma Bums: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (Paperback)I hold a great deal of interest in the beat writers and have read a variety of novels from the likes of Burroughs and have read a few books from Ginsberg. Kerouac is undoubtedly the most talented of the three big guns of the Beats.
Kerouac's writing is poetry. The simultaneous amalgam of vivid and surreal scenes gives literally every sentence a touch of beauty. I can not get over how well written this book was. Kerouac could not have crafted better sentences and rambled sections.
The one problem I had with this book was that, really, not a lot happened. It is essentially 200 pages of Ray and Japhy walking through woods, climbing mountains and waxing philosophical and Buddhist. I love nature, trees, woods, forests and lakes, and have a deep rooted connection to the rural lifestyle having come from a town noted only for its scenery and natural beauty, and my own grandfather literally lived in the woods for a large portion of his life and we still visit the place of his home now, years after the house burnt down and the government swindled the land from him. I love this sort of thing. However, it does get tedious to read over 200 pages. I actually put the book down for 6 months.
Also, I find the book a little self-congratulatory. Kerouac spends a great deal of time essentially saying how awesome it is to be a dharma bum like he and his companions. Sure, it does seem like a life-altering experience, but it does become grating after a while.
Still, a classic beautiful novel that has one of the greatest endings I've ever read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny!,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)Man, I don't know where to start. "The Dharma Bums" is a masterpiece of the Beat Generation and a novel I will not soon forget. After The Loser's Club by Richard Perez, this is the best book I've read all year.
Jack Kerouac wrote this story about his days as a Zen Buddhist and rucksack wanderer. His alias in the book is Raymond Smith, and he is living in Berkley with his good buddy Alvah Goldbook(Allen Ginsburg). Ray meets a Zen Lunatic named Japhy Ryder(Gary Snyder), and together they travel the mountains and pastures of Central California trying to find themselves and find the true meaning of life. Ray also journies to Desolation Peak in Washington and lives there alone for the summer, which is just another chapter to this amazing piece of literature.
Another part of this book that impressed me was the beginning, when Kerouac wrote about his experience at the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance, and spoke of Alvah Goldbook's first reading of his poem "Wail", which in reality was Allen Ginsburg's legendary first reading of "Howl", which to this day is a Beat Literature classic.
While reading this book, I was constantly marking lines and passages, because some of the descriptions and poetry Kerouac included in this novel are simply amazing. "The Dharma Bums" is one of those books I will treasure forever and read over and over again.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Shape,
This review is from: The Dharma Bums: 50th Anniversary Edition (Hardcover)Although it took way longer than the estimated ship date to arrive, the book was in great shape.
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Phenomenal,
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)Kerouac and Snyder were way ahead of their time, and this book details some of the reasons why. Zen Buddhism is old hat these days, but that these guys were wandering around America in the 50's trying to 'spin the wheel of the Dharma' is fantastic and laudable.
As for the people who gave this book 1 star: notice that neither of them can even spell Kerouac's name! Don't listen to them. This is a sensational book that was very important to me at a critical time in my life (just a few months ago, as a matter of fact).
Read this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Kerouac again,
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)Like ON THE ROAD, this book is a bit of a time capsule. More "Zen-like" than ON THE ROAD, Kerouac's Ray Smith (the narrator of DHARMA BUMS) is a dead ringer for Mr. K. The prose is clear and everything is grounded, despite the flighty nature of the beat poets and the writers of this era. With typical insight into the human condition, Kerouac weaves a journey for us that seems on the surface to be flat and boring, but the reality is that you get out of book what you put into it. While seemingly spontaneous, this is really a well thought out and well crafted book. Must also recommend another Amazon pick: --Katzenjammer--by McCrae, as well as the novel "Me Talk Pretty" by Sedaris. Not beat writers, but great stuff.
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening,
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)Most likely the best Kerouac book other than On The Road, Kerouac is at his best, eloquant yet unafraid of using colloquialisms to establish a believable atmosphere. Everything about this novel is so innocent and free, and as Raymond and the other characters live their spiritual lives almost devoid of any worries, one cannot help but feel some sort of inspiration to let go of our own opressive existence. There is never any conflict in this novel, just a few dharma bums living off rice and beans, praying every morning and night to buddha, getting drunk and writing poetry. Don't expect a roller-coaster of emotion, or you'll be dissapointed. This is spirituality and inner-peace manifested in a rather short novel. Recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Road with The Dharma Bums,
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)I first met Kerouac in the early 70s, when I was finishing my sentence in college. He inspired me to actually go on the road and hitch hike across the country several times (something I would no longer recommend). I learned about America through Jack. Dharma Bums taught me that there was another side to thought and life than the ones I had been living. While he himself was self destructive, I have incorporated many of his philosophies thorughout my lfe, and continue to search for truth and beauty, even while amid lies and ugliness. Trying to explain Dharma Bums and its philosophies to my teenage daughter is a trip. She just looks at me as though I'd lost my mind, which I no doubt did years ago when I first ran in to the stories of Kerouac. It's sad to think that the ideas and lifestyles he enshrines are dying out, if not dead all ready. Anyone looking for a boost into the beat world, or an explanation for what made it so "in" 50 years ago would best be advised to read Dharma Bums, and On The Road. Nuff said.
5.0 out of 5 stars A cool drink,
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)DHARMA BUMS came out a year after ON THE ROAD. While the latter is the beat manifesto celebrating the peripatetic lifestyle, BUMS focuses on the beat romance with Buddhist enlightenment and the building of an inner life. ON THE ROAD was an instant, memorable success, and while BUMS no doubt fed a desire for more of the same, it stands apart, its own satisfying work of art, its own way of sending telegraphs from the heart of the beat movement. Many of the episodes are based on actual events and experiences that were still fresh memories as the book was written.
Ray Smith is the first person narrator of DHARMA BUMS, a look alike for Jack Kerouac. For most of the book, he slyly puts Japhy Ryder at the center of attention. Ryder is a stand-in for poet Gary Snyder who survives, who as a young man in his twenties was already a natural leader. Surrounding them are other familiar figures from the era, including Alvah Goldbook (translates to Allen Ginsberg). They all write poetry and love jazz, women, and a casual lifestyle. They seek spiritual enlightenment. They delight in trolling for clothes in the Good Will and Army and Navy stores, they savor the simplest meal over a campfire. They are the Dharma Bums, rejecting the paralyzed emptiness they ascribe to middle class life.
I really like this book. The prose is clear and concrete, even when sorting through abstract notions. It is often funny. Kerouac had extraordinary insight into individual nuances and desires, and plays them into the tension of the journey and the sorting out. He had a gift for seeing how outsiders might perceive him and his crowd and how history might come to interpret the present he was portraying. Though he is legendarily perceived as a spontaneous artist, there is extraordinary control and shape imposed on these pages. Only twice does he momentarily break his world: once, in my edition, he slips and refers to Japhy as Gary, and another time, slipping out of the immediacy of the action, he pays a compliment to a simple meal on the road, noting that even as a lionized young writer in New York, he had not had a better meal in an upscale restaurant. Those curious nanoseconds can be forgiven, however. This book is a joy.
5.0 out of 5 stars one of kerouac's finest,
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)I've heard it said that this is Kerouac's greatest novel. I still say that honor is held by On the Road, but this book is just as good. And it is his most spiritual novel. Kerouac combines his talent at writing with his philosophy of life and what you have is a powerful tool to enlightenment. This book should be read on at least two levels, as a work of great literature and as a theological tool. I can't recommend it enough.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac (Paperback - Jan 1 1971)
CDN$ 17.50 CDN$ 12.64