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Lonesome Traveler by Jack Kerouac

Lonesome Traveler (1960)

by Jack Kerouac

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The early and later prose styles of Jack Kerouac are very different. Kerouac's earliest prose was written during the 1930s and 1940s. These early prose works are written in a fairly conventional prose style, although themes such as the search for freedom and detachment from convention can be found, besides the beginnings of an interest in experimentation with drugs.

In his later prose style, Kerouac's search for freedom and detachment from convention is pushed into his use of language. His late prose, written in a type of stream of consciousness is a wildly extatic outpour of verbiage, poetic at times, and often incoherent. Some of these prose texts were likely written while drunk or under the influence of drugs. They are not really enjoyable to read.

Lonesome traveler brings together various texts of Kerouac's travel writing, or short stories based on his travels. The first story, ""Piers of the Homeless Night" is stylistically the least accessible. It is a pain to read. There are better, more lyrical examples of Kerouac's stream of conscious style in some of the other stories.

Various members of the Beat Generation loved travelling to Mexico, as it is the nearest foreign country, which is very different from the American way of life. Besides, in Mexico they access to a native culture of using drugs, and were free to experiment. "Mexico Fellaheen" and "Railroad Earth" describe such journeys to Mexico, where Kerouac did not only find drugs, but also a much freer, more relaxed lifestyle, and he feels tempted to look at the suave, slender bodies of Mexican men. These two stories have strong elements of Kerouac's later prose style. "New York Scenes" is a lovely portrait of New York City.

While Kerouac found freedom on the road by hitch-hiking, for longer voyages he mustered on board ships. "Slobs of the Kitchen Sea" presents a story describing such a sea adventure.

"On a Mountain Top" describes Kerouac's longing for solitude, to work and to meditate. In describes his awakening interest into Buddhism. The story describes an experience of living in nature on Desolation Peak, close to Thoreau's Walden experience. (O lonesome traveler!)

"Big Trip to Europe" is a hilarious story, in which Kerouac describes his trip to Tangier, Marseille, Paris, and the most funny part of it, his attempt to convince British customs that he is not just a penniless bummer, but a renowned American author.

The last story, "The Vanishing American Hobo" is an endearing tribute, evoking the spirit of Benjamin Franklin and Walt Whitman as they traveled the open road. It describes how people's attitudes towards wanderers have changed, from sympathy to disgust, and how "hobos" are now seen as a nuisance and a danger.

Lonesome traveler is another form of writing about Kerouac's experience "on the road", and his quest to seek freedom in far off places. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Sep 4, 2015 |
Quite possibly the worst book I read in 2012.
At some point, I stuck pins in my eyes and poured bleach into my ears, just so I could experience a different sort of pain.

How thankful I am that I don't have any more Kerouac on my shelves ( )
  col2910 | Apr 17, 2014 |
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Fell, SimonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802130747, Paperback)

In his first frankly autobiographical work, Jack Kerouac tells the exhilarating story fo the years when he was writing th books that captivated and infuriated the public, restless years of wandering during which he worked as a railway brakeman in California, a steward on a tramp steamer, and a fire lookout on the crest of Desolation Peak in the Cascde Mountains.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:16 -0400)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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