Alyce from At Home With Books features one of her favorite reads each Thursday and this week my pick is mostly an old memory.
The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.
Since I can’t find the book on my shelf, I’m using the Amazon summary (Amazon.com): First published in 1958, a year after On the Road had put the Beat generation on the map, The Dharma Bums stands as one of Jack Kerouac’s most powerful, influential, and bestselling novels. The story focuses on two untrammeled young Americans—mountaineer, poet, and Zen Buddhist Japhy Ryder and Ray Smith, a zestful, innocent writer—whose quest for Truth leads them on a heroic odyssey, from marathon parties and poetry jam sessions in San Francisco’s Bohemia to solitude and mountain climbing in the High Sierras to Ray’s sixty-day vigil by himself atop Desolation Peak in Washington State. Primary to this evocative and soulful novel is an honest, exuberant search for an affirmative way of life in the midst of the atomic age. In many ways, The Dharma Bums also presaged the environmental, back-to-the-land, and American Buddhist movements of the 1960s and beyond.
I read this so long ago, I think it may have been my freshman year in college, and was fascinated by it. The idea of walking away from life and living simply was so interesting, but not necessarily appealing to me (city girl :-)), that I remember thinking about this book months after I read it. I know I re-read it several times just wanting to understand what made a person want to run out of their own skin. It’s too bad that I can’t find it on my shelf now because I wonder if I would have a different opinion of it today. Oh, to know if the fascination still holds…