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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 Sept. 1 2008 by Benjamin Anderson

versus
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


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5.0 out of 5 stars The second best, about buddism, Jack when he's happy!!, May 24 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)
The Dharma Bums is possibly Kerouac's second best novel, it focuses on his discovery of Buddism as the Cassady character of dean Moriarty is replace by Gary Shyder's Japhy Ryder who helps and older Kerouac discover the mountains with its landscape and animal life, he teaches Kerouac about the simplicity of life which he hankered after.For those who like to see Kerouac happy with life rather thandepressed and looking back to better days this is the book you have to read
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eeeha! That dharmy-boy Jack shore can smith them words., April 25 1998
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This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)
Eeeha! That dharmy-boy Jack shore can smith them words.  They bounce and spin, leap and unfurl in a cacophony of tremulous abandon in your mind's ear.

The pleasure in reading Kerouac is that he is such a remarkably good, wonderful person and he is so joyous and full of zealotry and surprise.  And he loves everyone, unconditionally.  But there is not a hint of treacle; it is all vividly authentic but awash in kindness.

THE DHARMA BUMS was written in the late 50s, and was a quick follow up to Kerouac's ground-breaking best-seller ON THE ROAD.  Both are less experimental than others of Kerouac's works, but are jaunty displays of Kerouac's famed spontaneous prose.

As with most of Kerouac's work, the novel is written in first person and closely follows events in Kerouac's life, with the identities of his real-life beat friends disguised by pseudonyms (at the insistence of his publisher).

The book begins in southern California in 1955 with Ray Smith [Jack] struggling to hop a fast train to San Francisco.  He arrives in The City after overcoming some difficulties and meeting a good-hearted hobo.  Once in the city, there is a quick chapter--not calling much attention to itself--about Ray's attendance at a poetry reading, which is noteworthy in that it is a fictionalized account of the most famous poetry reading of all time:  when Allan Ginsberg first read "Howl."  [In the novel the poet is named Alvah Goodbook and his poem is titled "Wail."]

Quickly, though, Ray [and the reader] meets the central character of the book, Japhy Ryder.  [It is fun to know that Japhy is based on the Pulitzer-winning poet Gary Snyder and the project Japhy/Gary is up to at the beginning of the novel is to draft the first Chinese-to-English translation of Han Shan's "Cold Mountain." Shan's epic poem is the inspiration of the current best-selling novel of the same name, set during the Civil War.]  Ryder is the ultimate, ebullient frees!pirit who whisks Ray off on an adventure, a climb up the Matterhorn (a peak just outside the current-day borders of Yosemite National Monument).  At all times, Japhy and Ray engage in happy dharma banter, swapping tales and lessons learned.  And back at Japhy's shack of a home there are orgies, jazz and meditation, exceptionally tasty plates of beans and bottles of cheap ruby-red port.

The book continues with fascinating similar events, all written in a lusty, swashbuckling style, full of dharma and comradery.  At the novel's conclusion, a final mountain is climbed--both figuratively and literally--and the experience left me fully satisfied.

Unlike almost all other novels, DHARMA BUMS and others of Kerouac's tales are not driven by a careful, classic  plotline.  There is no achy tragedy that you read your way into the heart of and then hope for a nifty, surprising conclusion.  The book barrels forward from the lust-for-life of its characters and the supreme genius of Kerouac at his craft of threading words.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable, Inspirational Lyricism, March 8 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)
This was a truly astounding book. I have read "On the Road," and consider this to be the better one. Its beautiful, almost mythical descriptions of the California mountains gave me vivid pictures I will never forget, and the Buddhist philosophies Kerouac talks about really opened my eyes. This is a profound book that I consider one of the top five I have ever read. It's characters are intriguing, the journey is freedom itself, and it hits you in your soul.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional tale of awakening and new visions., Dec 4 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)
Perspective's of america,the west and a spiritual journey of sorts. Personal favorites of the story are the descriptions of Jack and his friend as they dance down a rock field and the advice of/don't worry if you fall,we are going down and you will still get where your'e going/let the waters flow and enjoy a beautiful tale with subtle catholic buddhist leanings.aza38
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kerouac no literary giant, an American treasure, Nov. 29 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)
Kerouac, while not a writer of of any profound depth, must be considered nevertheless a treasure in the annals of American letters. His novels provide a brilliant witness-lens of manifold perspective. The freshness of his expression, the early sallies into nascent american buddhism, and his disilllusioned, bemused and cynical observance of the turmoil and rebellion of midcentury culture are immutable and altogether without peer. Anyone interested in counterculture or our culture in general is recommended to this finest of Kerouac's titles.
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3.0 out of 5 stars "Easy Rider" meets "Bar Fly", meets "Into the Wild"...., Oct. 29 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)
A somewhat sad story...The protagonist, a dis-spirited, wistful, melancholy soul, who's "haddit" with middleclass, American society (who hasn't) and - with constant refills of his huge, bottomless wine goblet - hits the Highroad, full of Zen, Buddha, etc...I was just waiting for this guys liver to simply explode from his body...Reminded me a bit of "Catcher in the Rye" (odd), "Into the Wild", "Easy Rider" and, in a more odd way, Hongo's "Volcano"...This theme of restlessness, discontent, (self?) dissatisfaction...And never quite finding a Home. Never - even with the aid of horrific amounts of booze - not quite Settling In. I wonder about Kerouac's State of Being - minus the alcohol... Sad, not triumphant, story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Close to Real Matter!, Oct. 6 1997
By 
wgovier@adobe.com (Palo Alto, California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)
The sense of nature Kerouac captured in this book is an important message in this work-shop-consume world. And he conveys so much appetite for life! I especially enjoyed the Gary Snyder character: "The closer you get to real matter...(rocks, mountains, etc.) the more spiritual the world is." I"M READING IT AGAIN!
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5.0 out of 5 stars This Book's the Bomb, April 13 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)
This book was the most inspirational work I have ever read. No matter how silly it sounds, I want to go climb a mountain and become a Buddhist. I wish he was still alive, I'd have more to say to him than I do to most people
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kerouac grasps literature with his rebellious nature, Feb. 15 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)
To avoid the modern cliche of idolizing Kerouac and other writers and musicians, many whose lives are primarily concerned with the abuse of alchohol and drugs, Kerouac is truly and literary genius, and "The Dharma Bums" exemplifies this. Kerouac was all the things that were rebellious before rebellion became a dormant term, as it is today. Kerouac and "Japhy Rider" take you on a hike into the mountains that could inspire any soul to leave their materialsitic belongings behind for the life of a "Dharma Bum."
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful follow-up for anyone who enjoyed "On the Road", Nov. 15 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dharma Bums (Paperback)
Dharma Bums is truly Kerouac at his finest. The book
is about his "Zen Lunacy" and his wanderings on the west
coast with his mad friend Japhy. This book makes you want
to jump up throw together a rucksack and head for the
mountains to meditate.This book just takes the classic
On the Road philosophy and takes it a step further. If
liked On the Road I highly recommend this book for it
is a classic.
Further Reading:The Subterraneans, Big Sur
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The Dharma Bums
The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac (Paperback - Jan. 1 1971)
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