The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder Practice of the Wild

When someone comes up with a fresh and startling way of looking at our world, you can bet that it is drawn from a combination of sources, fields, and disciplines. Gary Snyder has done just this with The Practice of the Wild, joining his backgrounds in mythology, history, religion, literature, anthropology, language, and natural history. The result is a series of interlocking … [Read more...]

Review – Time Adjusters & Other Stories
by Bill Ectric

The modern fables that make up Bill Ectric's new collection of stories, Time Adjusters, are difficult to classify, in the best way possible. They seem a comic-book mishmash of science fiction and magical realism, one turn of the screw toward another world. At first, the author paints a suburban landscape where pet baboons chase children through the streets, and we are not … [Read more...]

A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

A Coney Island of the Mind - Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I first found Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island of the Mind while an undergraduate, finding the wry attacks on the established order refreshing and invigorating. Ferlinghetti protests and rages against the madness of the nuclear age, against the misuse of religion and politics to enslave humanity, and against the colossal indifference that allows all this to happen. He … [Read more...]

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road - Beyond Baroque / Flickr

"I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had gotten over a serious illness that I won't bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead." This central character of Kerouac's On the Road, Dean Moriarty, based on Kerouac's friend Neal Cassady, embodies America, its criminal … [Read more...]

The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

Kerouac Dharma Bums - VincentX - Flickr

I encountered The Dharma Bums for the first time in college, on a classmate's shelf. She gushed about the book, but I was more interested in her roommate and didn't pay enough attention. Many years later, I finally read it on a lonely road trip through New Hampshire during an unusually cold May. Snow drenched the higher elevations and my camping experience became … [Read more...]

Big Sur by Jack Kerouac

Kerouac - Big Sur

Big Sur is often ignored by critics and Kerouac fans alike. We all want the freedom of On the Road, the craziness of The Dharma Bums — the celebration of the Beat lifestyle. We want young Jack living his American Dream of the road. But Big Sur shows what happens to Kerouac as fame and age taint that dream. "I'm just plumb sick and tired...of the whole nerve-wracking … [Read more...]

Tristessa by Jack Kerouac

tristessa

Jack Kerouac is primarily lauded for his keen understanding of male friendship. The female characters of On the Road or The Dharma Bums never really achieve the reader's interest the way the males do. But Kerouac is also a writer of exquisitely sad love stories, with complex and fully realized women: The Subterraneans, Maggie Cassidy, and Tristessa. In these tales we find to … [Read more...]

Visions of Cody by Jack Kerouac

Visions of Cody by Jack Kerouac

Like a weird, mutated ogre muttering to himself by the roadside, Jack Kerouac's Visions of Cody stands apart. As the author states in his short introduction, "I wanted a vertical metaphysical study of Cody's character and its relationship to the general 'America'." He has done this and more, erecting teetering thousand-foot sculptures of brilliant scrap metal by the macadam … [Read more...]

Vanity of Duluoz by Jack Kerouac

Vanity of Duluoz - erikorama / flikr

When Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46 was written in 1967, an overweight and severely alcoholic Jack Kerouac had only two years to live. Chronicling the years just before his adventures with Neal Cassady, his last complete volume takes Jack from the football fields of high school, to the dangerous seas of World War II, and finally to a New York City brimming … [Read more...]

Dr. Sax by Jack Kerouac

Dr. Sax by Jack Kerouac

Dr. Sax is one of Jack Kerouac's most troubling books for readers, peering behind the curtain of his childhood rather than exploring those later years of Beats and bodhisattvas. Nevertheless, it remains a startling achievement, unique not only among Kerouac's works, but among those books that it seems to mirror. It is primarily a book about growing up, similar to such … [Read more...]