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In 1960 Jack Kerouac was near breaking point. Driven mad by constant press attention in the wake of the publication of On the Road, he needed to 'get away to solitude again or die', so he withdrew to a cabin in Big Sur on the Californian coast. The resulting novel, in which his autobiographical hero Jack Duluoz wrestles with doubt, alcohol dependency and his urge towards self-destruction, is one of Kerouac's most personal and searingly honest works. Ending with the poem "Sea: Sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur", it shows a man coming down from his hedonistic youth and trying to come to terms with fame, the world and himself.
Penguin Books Ltd
May 3, 2012
About the author
Jack Kerouac (1922-69) was an American novelist, poet, artist and part of the Beat Generation. Most of his life was spent in the vast landscapes of America or living with his mother. Kerouac's best known works are On the Road and The Dharma Bums.
ented horse-racing and baseball and football worlds' (as recorded in the novel Doctor Sax). He was educated by Jesuit brothers in Lowell. He said that he 'decided to become a writer at age seventeen under influence of Sebastian Sampas, local young poet, who later died on Anzio beach head; read the life of Jack London at eighteen and decided to also be a lonesome traveler; early literary influences Saroyan and Hemingway; later Wolfe (after I had broken leg in Freshman football at Columbia read Tom Wolfe and roamed his New York on crutches).'
Kerouac wished, however, to develop his own new prose style, which he called 'spontaneous prose.' He used this technique to record the life of the American 'traveler' and the experiences of the Beat generation of the 1950s. This may clearly be seen in his most famous novel On the Road, and also in The Subterraneans and The Dharma Bums. His first more orthodox published novel was The Town and the City. Jack Kerouac, who described himself as a 'strange solitary crazy Catholic mystic,' was working on his longest novel, a surrealistic study of the last ten years of his life when he died in 1969, aged forty-seven.
"Kerouac's grittiest novel... sensual and uninhibited" - The New York Times