My Review | The Dharma Bums

The Dharma BumsThe Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of a bunch of guys without jobs, drinking, hiking and writing poetry. The characters embrace a simpler and more spiritually-meaningful lifestyle and I’m certainly down with that. Set in the mid-1950s, the lead character, Ray Smith (Kerouac) is on the road to Buddhist enlightenment, with his good friend Japhy Ryder (who is based on the Zen poet Gary Snyder). I especially liked the sections set in the wilderness, the chapter where they climb Matterhorn Peak in California and at the end when Ray has taken a job for the summer as a lookout for forest fires on Desolation Peak in Washington. “In his often brilliant descriptions of nature one is aware of exhilarating power and originality,” wrote The New York Times. This isn’t much of a review, maybe I should have given the book three stars. Historical, biographical fiction. An influential book on the culture when published in 1958, putting the Beat Generation on the map. “In [On the Road] Kerouac’s heroes were sensation seekers; now they are seekers after truth.” — Chicago Tribune.

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