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Big Sur | [Jack Kerouac]

Big Sur

"Big Sur's a humane, precise account of the extraordinary ravages of alcohol delirium tremens on Kerouac, a superior novelist who had strength to complete his poetic narrative, a task few scribes so afflicted have accomplished...others crack up. Here we meet San Francisco's poets and recognize hero Dean Moriarty 10 years after On the Road. Jack Kerouac was a 'writer,' as his great peer W.S. Burroughs says, and here at the peak of his suffering humorous genius he wrote through his misery to end with 'Sea,' a brilliant poem appended, on the hallucinatory sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur." - Allen Ginsberg
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Publisher's Summary

"Big Sur's a humane, precise account of the extraordinary ravages of alcohol delirium tremens on Kerouac, a superior novelist who had strength to complete his poetic narrative, a task few scribes so afflicted have accomplished...others crack up. Here we meet San Francisco's poets and recognize hero Dean Moriarty 10 years after On the Road. Jack Kerouac was a 'writer,' as his great peer W.S. Burroughs says, and here at the peak of his suffering humorous genius he wrote through his misery to end with 'Sea,' a brilliant poem appended, on the hallucinatory sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur." - Allen Ginsberg

©1962 by Jack Kerouac; (P)1998 by Blackstone Audiobooks

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (119 )
5 star
 (43)
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4.1 (46 )
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4.1 (44 )
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  •  
    SHAWN MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, United States 10-29-05
    SHAWN MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, United States 10-29-05 Member Since 2002
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    "A great listen"

    Parker is an excellent reader.
    Big Sur is a monologue, a descent into Kerouac's alcoholic Inferno. Kerouac could only write this having come out of it--for a time--but while I listened to Parker speaking to me in Kerouac's voice, I too felt the need for some stability, some sense of permanence in this all too hectic world.
    And while Robinson Jeffers is the better Big Sur poet ("Continent's End" et. al.), this novel elicits the state of mind of an unstable man coming into this landscape to be nearly wholly worn down by the rhythms of the sea, the landscape, humanity and his own disease.
    There is humor here too, but I responded strongly to the tragic elements in Parker's evocative reading of this powerful book.
    (Parker really gets Cody's voice, just like he got McMurphy's in Kesey's novel--they're similar characters. I can't wait for him to record Visions of Cody.)

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doing-fine-in-FLA Florida United States 09-28-05
    Doing-fine-in-FLA Florida United States 09-28-05 Listener Since 2003
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    "Arguably one of Kerouacs best novels"

    Jack Kerouacs prose, like that of James Joyce, gets into your head and races over the reticulations and slaloms down the grooves kicking up powder everywhere. Once you have tasted his best work there is no going back to the safety of the restrained and structured prose of Dostoyevsky, Faulkner, and Hemingway. Big Sur is arguably one of Kerouacs best novels. It documents the personal crests and troughs between his initial fame that catapults him into the limelight and a downhill slide to what eventually becomes a self-destructive, terminal binge. It takes a much brighter look at his experience tower sitting on Desolation Peak than does Desolation Angels. Tom Parkers narration does justice to both the pace and tone of Kerouacs voice. Leave your slippers and smoking jacket at home and put on your walking shoes. Big Sur is waiting just over the edge of the Pacific bluffs.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Sacramento, CA, USA 12-31-04
    Andrew Sacramento, CA, USA 12-31-04
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    "Brilliant"

    Great writing (as usual) interesting to hear it read aloud, but
    it seems that the nararator was drinking the sweet port wine himself.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Seeley Tulsa, Oklahoma 03-11-13
    Richard Seeley Tulsa, Oklahoma 03-11-13 Member Since 2009

    Rich Seeley

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    "Insightful View of the Dark Sides of the Beats"

    This novel is sometimes mistakenly viewed as a drunkalogue by a practicing alcoholic on the verge of insanity. But while Jack Kerouac was a sometime crazy booze hound, he was also a very insightful writer. And yes, when he was living through this particular bad San Francisco trip, he was a sometimes drunk and full-time crackup. However. When he got back home to his mother's house on the East Coast and wrote this book in the solitude that protected his gift, he was clear-eyed. In the hours and days of his lucidity, he detailed his alcoholism, he unflinchingly recorded the flaws in his character that brought on his nervous breakdown. So here we have the Beat Generation not as the Disney characters of nostalgia but as the good, bad and ugly people they were when a very introverted Catholic/Buddhist writer with a ton of talent hung out with them and hung in with them to the point of his own self-destruction.

    Tom Parker, as always, does a great job bringing these mostly long-dead voices back to life.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harry Levinson Boston, MA United States 01-26-14
    Harry Levinson Boston, MA United States 01-26-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Great book, annoying narrator"
    Would you listen to Big Sur again? Why?

    I might listen to it again because Kerouac is my favorite writer... BUT Tom Parker's nasally voice is really hard to take.

    I don't know anything about Parker's audiobook resume, but he sounds like he probably is a former sports announcer or something. Nothing against him personally, but how he was selected to read a classic novel such as "Big Sur" is beyond me. He certainly has the dramatic skill, but I found the sound of his voice to be almost unbearable.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Big Sur?

    There is a part in the middle of the story where he describes the waves of twenty-something hipsters who find him, expecting to see the young Kerouac of yore, but instead meet this ailing, alcoholic middle-aged guy. The emotional impact of this was very strong for me -- Jack's sadness and despair, telling the story from the standpoint of the downward arc of his career, after the peak of his fame during his lifetime. As Natalie Merchant & Rob Buck wrote in the song "Hey Jack Kerouac", he "chose his words from mouths of babes got lost in the wood", and there he was himself wandering around the dark woods near Big Sur.


    What aspect of Tom Parker’s performance would you have changed?

    Replace him with another narrator.


    If you could take any character from Big Sur out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Jack Duluoz, Kerouac's alter ego character, of course.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm hoping this is not a trend regarding books on Audible.com, narrators with annoying voices.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura G. Mcinerney LaPorte, IN 04-01-14
    Laura G. Mcinerney LaPorte, IN 04-01-14 Member Since 2012

    Laura

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    "Good insight into the 50's 60's"
    Would you listen to Big Sur again? Why?

    No but I'm glad I did. It gives insight into a tortured soul. It reminds you that people never really change in spite of time


    What other book might you compare Big Sur to and why?

    None


    What about Tom Parker’s performance did you like?

    All


    If you could take any character from Big Sur out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Jack Kerouac of course.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samuel Albany, OR, USA 05-24-10
    Samuel Albany, OR, USA 05-24-10
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    "Horrible Book"

    It was boring. I hated it. A stupid drunk writer writes about crap.

    2 of 27 people found this review helpful
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