Big Sur

Big Sur

by Jack Kerouac, Aram Saroyan

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"Each book by Jack Kerouac is unique, a telepathic diamond. With prose set in the middle of his mind, he reveals consciousness itself in all its syntatic elaboration, detailing the luminous emptiness of his own paranoiac confusion. Such rich natural writing is nonpareil in later half XX century, a synthesis of Proust, Céline, Thomas Wolfe, Hemingway, Genet, Thelonius Monk, Basho, Charlie Parker, and Kerouac's own athletic sacred insight.

"Big Sur's humane, precise account of the extraordinary ravages of alcohol delirium tremens on Kerouac, a suerior novelist who had strength to complete his poetic narrative, a task few scribes so afflicted have accomplished—others crack up. Here we meet San Francisco's poets & recognize hero Dean Moriarty ten years after On the Road. Jack Kerouac was a 'writer,' as his great peer W.S. Burroughs says, and here at the peak of his suffering humorous genius he wrote through his misery to end with 'Sea,' a brilliant poem appended, on the hallucinatory Sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur." —Allen Ginsberg

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101548813
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/26/2011
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 668,012
File size: 367 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jack Kerouac(1922-1969), the central figure of the Beat Generation, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922 and died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969. Among his many novels are On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, and Visions of Cody.

Jack Kerouac(1922-1969), the central figure of the Beat Generation, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922 and died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969. Among his many novels are On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, and Visions of Cody.

Table of Contents


Author’s Note v

Big Sur 1

Character Key 178

Biographical Timeline 179

Customer Reviews

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Big Sur 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Maria73 More than 1 year ago
I loved this one. Much better than On the Road. This book will leave an impact. Kerouac does an amazing job of really expressing the fullness of the emotional crossroads that Kerouac was at when he went to Big Sur to try to get sober and his ultimate failures. The final page after he comes through his breakdown speaks such great volumes not only to him personally, but to the reader. Specifically, to anyone who has ever been through adversity. "Something good will come of all things yet." I highly recommend prior to reading this that you watch the documentary "One Fast Move or I'm Gone." This documentary will give you a great insight into the book. So far, this is my favorite Kerouac work. Highly recommend.
Filgasova More than 1 year ago
Readers will like Kerouacs trademark style and edgy introspection. However, this book is extraordinary also in that it provides a profound insight into the more serious side of Kerouacs alcoholism, and it's consequences. Sure to be a moving read for all, even those not otherwise interested in the "Beat" genre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was reminded more than once, while reading this book, of Burrough's 'Naked Lunch' with its disjointed sentence structure and dream-like paragraphs. But in Kerouac's hands, the material has a more seamless quality and the babble-speak becomes sheer poetry in places. With a 'form follows function' approach that Burroughs used, Tom Parker--the main character in this novel--indulges in free association because of his alcohol abuse and basic instability. Also reminded me of the writing of Martin Amis.
mikaela11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't love this as much as I loved On the Road, maybe because Big Sur truly reveals Kerouacs's serious affliction and has less of a youthful quality, obviously due to the fact that it was written in later years. Yet I love the dream-like approach of the rant, with disjointed sentence structure, brilliant characterization and his edgy signature style. His "free form" approach is to me, a combination of Hemingway and William Burroughs, with direct homage to the latter.In this revealing account written at the peak of his suffering, Kerouac shares with us the poets and beatniks of San Francisco, and of course, more Dean Moriarty. The seamless quality lets us drift along with profound insight into the more serious side of Kerouac's alcoholism. It's a very moving, introspective read.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A heart-breaking story and not for the first-time Kerouac reader. All of the elements of what make him great are here: honesty, kindness, a love of nature, and poetic philosophy -- but the backdrop is Kerouac's addiction to alcohol, which is killing him. As Aram Saroyan says at the end of the introduction, "Above all, he was a tender writer. It would be hard to find a mean-spirited word about anybody in all his writing." As Kerouac himself says in Big Sur: "It's hard to explain and best thing to do is not be false."While reading it it's hard not to wish that someone had saved Kerouac from himself. He suffers episodes of DT's and paranoia, and one of the lasting images is "trying to squeeze the last red drop out of the rancid port bottle" when there is no alcohol left. The people around him are good at heart (with the exception of a frightening pedophile), but they indulge Kerouac and in the full spirit of the 60s believe in things like making love in front of the kids. Kerouac is at his best and at peace when he's at one with nature in Big Sur; unfortunately he cannot resist returning to parties in the City and his self-destructive ways.Kerouac was a great spirit and it's a shame that he died in 1969 at age 47. I found myself thinking about him for weeks after reading this book, wishing he was still in this world, seeing what I was seeing, and writing more of The Duluoz Legend. It's a hard read and I don't know that I would recommend it to anyone other than a Kerouac fan, but I give it four stars for the emotional staying power it had with me.Quotes:On nature and man:"Even the first frightening night on the beach in the fog with my notebook and pencil, sitting there crosslegged in the sand facing all the Pacific fury flashing on rocks that rise like gloomy sea shroud towers out of the cove, the bingbang cove with its seas booming inside caves and slapping out, the cities of seaweed floating up and down you can even see their dark leer in the phosphorescent seabeach moonlight - That first night I sit there and all I know, as I look up, is the kitchen light is on, on the cliff, to the right, where somebody's just built a cabin overlooking all the horrible Sur...""...who cant sleep like a log in a solitary cabin in the woods, you wake up in the late morning so refreshed and realizing the universe namelessly: the universe is an Angel..."On being kind:"There's the poor little mouse eating her nightly supper in the humble corner where I've put out a little delight-plate full of cheese and chocolate candy (for my days of killing mice are over)...'On the important things in life:"On my deathbed I could be remembering that creek day and forgetting the day MGM bought my book, I could be remembering the old lost green dump T-shirt and forgetting the sapphired robes - Mebbe the best way to get into heaven."On the transience of life:"And as far as I can see the world is too old for us to talk about it with our new words - We will pass just as quietly through life (passing through, passing through) as the 10th century people of this valley only with a little more noise and a few bridges and dams and bombs that wont even last a million years..."On lamenting changes in what is now Silicon Valley:"Soon we're set straight and pointed head on down beautiful fourlane Bayshore Highway to that lovely Santa Clara Valley - But I'm amazed that after only a few years the damn thing no longer has prune fields and vast beet fields like at Lawrence when I was a brakeman on the Southern Pacific and even after, it's one long row of houses right down the line 50 miles to San Jose like a great monstrous Los Angeles beginning to grow south of Frisco."On driving the Pacific coast:"When Cody comes to a narrow tight curve with all our death staring us in the face down that hole he just swerves the curve saying 'The way to drive in the mountains is, boy, no fiddling around, these roads dont move, you're the one that moves' - And we come out on t
atram113 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got really in to Kerouac when I was 14. On the Road was the first Kerouac book I ever read, but this one remains my favorite. A scene that has always stuck with me was when Billie goes to dig a hole for the garbage and digs it so it would be the perfect grave to fit the kid with them. I've never been able to get that image out of my head. What I also loved is seeing the absolute destruction of Kerouac. In the beginning he talks about young kids coming to his mother's home trying to get him to take a road trip with them. But he wants them to know that On the Road was years ago, he's no longer that man. I love no story more than the one where the character is completely and totally beaten down. Depressing that he's not just a character.
wilsonknut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is Kerouac's darkest book. It is 196,0 and he is sick from drinking too much. The notoriety of On the Road is starting to get to him. He tries to dry out and get back to the basics in Ferlinghetti's cabin in the woods of Big Sur, but he just can't resist the bottle and the social scene that goes with it. He captures his nervous breakdown in this book, but it is an omen of what will become of the last few years of his life.
mayumikamon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Kerouac's weaker pieces. A self indulgent work towards the end of his life.
AndrewBlackman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jack Kerouac is tired. Tired of aspiring young beatniks knocking on his door in the middle of the night wanting to go on a road trip, tired of parties, tired of hitch-hiking, tired of drinking, tired of people, tired of being tired. He goes to a friend's cabin at Big Sur on the Californian coast to unwind, but finds himself back in San Francisco getting drunk in no time. The cycle of binge drinking followed by remorseful vows never to do it again followed by immediate binge drinking will be familiar to any alcoholic, but Kerouac's mesmerising writing style kept me following happily along all the way to the brutally unsatisfying, weakly abrupt cop-out of an ending.
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