20 July, 2011

redemption.


While on our honeymoon in Italy (can I please go back, now?) we ducked into a library to find some train-ride literature before we took off for Florence. There was a small English literature section and I was surprised to see very little that I recognized. I picked up the first title that seemed familiar and walked out with my first Jack Kerouac novel, On the Road. It was an American classic, bound to be a winner. Wrong. It took me about 4 months to finish. I just was so disgusted by the "free and easy living" lifestyle these guys promoted and the fact that the book seriously didn't have a point. Kerouac was officially a hack, at least in my book (and that's the only book that matters, right?). 
Unfortunately, Kerouac and I would meet again in the form of The Dharma Bums. My history professor decided that the Beat Generation was something worth noting in our glance at American history so I begrudgingly bought the book and loathed the day that I would have to read it. In order to get different perspectives on what popular thought was at the time of publication we read this review of Kerouac's previous works, On the Road as well as The Subterraneans (it's a bit long but it seriously states exactly how I feel about On the Road, Norman and I are two peas in a pod). I was all geared up to hate Dharma Bums. But, as I read it I saw this great evolution from a bohemian movement based on sex and alcohol to a bohemian movement, somewhat grounded in Zen Buddhism, that focused primarily on nature and connection with people*. I may not want to completely reject the "dumb white machinery in the kitchen" but I have a better understanding and respect for the movement as a whole. So thanks, Kerouac, for continuing to write as you grew in your ideology.

*The latter bohemian movement as portrayed in Dharma Bums still contained quite a bit of sex but not as much alcohol but that wasn't its sole focus ;)

4 comments:

  1. okay so I have ADD [not really] and the only thing I read this whole post was, "I WENT ON MY HONEYMOON TO ITALY" over and over a billion times. Words could not even express the envy I feel. I told my husband after he proposed that if he really wanted to marry me he was going to have to promise to take me to Ital at some point in our lives. I hope that comes sooner, ratherthan later :)

    http://alexislaughs.com

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  2. Mary-Claire MorrowJuly 21, 2011 at 12:02 AM

    I felt the same exact way about On the Road.  I was completely shocked because On the Road is probably his most well known novel and after reading it I wasn't really interested in continuing to read his work.  I might keep trying though after reading your post!  Thanks!  Also... a honeymoon in Italy sounds like heaven...

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  3. LOL Ya, it was a fabulous trip. I love Europe and would do anything (seriously, anything) to go back, like, yesterday. You will love Italy when you go!

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  4. Oh, I am so glad I have found someone who agrees. I come across either those who have never read it (the majority) or those who think it's  the bible (what??) I like Dharma Bums a lot more. It's still not my cup of tea for life in general but it has some good moments :)

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