This autobiographical novel appeared just a year after the author's explosive On the Road put the Beat generation on the literary map and Kerouac on the best-seller lists. The same expansiveness, humor, and contagious zest for life that sparked the earlier novel ignites this one.
©1986 Jan Kerouac and Stella Kerouac; (P)2004 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A vivid evocation of a part of our time." (New York Post)
Ray meditates in the woods. Ray goes on a road trip. Ray sleeps in the train yard. Ray goes on a hike with his buddies. They talk a lot of pseudo eastern philosophy bull. They go back to a shack. Everyone gets drunk. Everyone gets laid. By the same Barbie nympho doll. Ray goes on a road trip. Ray sleeps in a train yard. Ray goes home and Momma cooks for him. Ray meditates in the woods. Ray goes on a road trip. Ray meets up with buddies. They talk a lot of pseudo eastern philosophy bull. They throw a party and get drunk. Several women show up and wish they could have sex with Ray's friend. Ray goes on a road trip. Then Ray climbs a mountain. More pseudo eastern philosophical BS. The end.
I get that this was very influential in 1958. That millions of young men thought this footloose lifestyle was some kind of statement about individualism and freedom. But boy, it just reads like BS today. And if you've read On the Road already, this is a pale duplicate only with eastern BS thrown in to try and make it mean something. Which it doesn't. It doesn't mean anything except Kerouac didn't like women or working.
Kerouac was a great writer. I wish he'd been a better man and given us better material. I am totally done with him now.
The narrator was great.
Sorry, but I struggled to get into this. I liked 'On the Road,' a lot, and this pretty much 'On The Road,' but with a Buddhist theme. You get a bunch of people talking about esoteric Buddist things that your average western would not know/care about. I think there are better Kerouak books out there unless you are already into Buddhism and understand some of this ahead of time. Narration was fine though.
I thought maybe there was something of substance to this book, but there was nothing of substance there.
I don't think so. The idea that he was some sort of guru or something is a sad notion that not even die hard aging hippies are likely to believe. He's just a guy who did some drugs and learned a little about an Eastern religion.
I'm not sure really. I suppose he did a decent job, but nothing jumps off the table and says "This is something special"
Just disappointment at wasting my time. It happens now and then, you pick a book off the "Must read before I die" list and find out it really actually sucks.
I can't imagine why this book shows up in certain "Must Read" lists. Obviously nobody who puts these lists together has actually suffered through this dull book.
A reminder of the excellent detail interwoven with contemplation by the Great Rememberer. Great to hear this having first read the follow up much earlier, Desolation Angels.
Desolation Angels apparently is sequentially after Dharma Bums, and the Zen themes run through out both.
This is a great story from the 1950’s when you could hitchhike all across the country and sleep out in public spaces. Now there are no public spaces you can do that in legally because most are ‘privately owned’. With that aside I do like the story where you have three different views on what the Dharma is and how different people see it. I would liked to have read at the end an epilogue of where everyone was ten years from when the story ended. After reading it I can see that like the Tao, you can’t speak the Tao and have it be the true Tao the Dharma is the same as in it has a different meaning to everyone that practices it.
Oh, and I do like the part where the woman talks about the ‘police’ watching everything you do just because they can and 50 years after this book was published congress gave the ‘police’ just that authority.
I love trees!
every thing!! the story, narrator and most of all.... the characters!! This book spoke to me mostly I think because there are a lot of parallels with my own life.
when ray comes to stay at Sean Monahan's
Loved Japhy Ryder!!
No I took my time and listen to it over a week or so. then I listened a couple more times. theres a lot being said.
any body who loves the outdoors,nature, free spirt lifestyle, buddhism will dig this book!
Musician and runner living on the island of Jeju in South Korea.
It's been almost a decade since I first picked up the Dharma Bums and this was the perfect format for revisiting one of Kerouac's finest novels. Tom Parker brings the story to life with the delivery of a stern newspaperman and manages to convey the novel's steady and sparkling excitement and the book stands up as one of Kerouac's best. From Matterhorn to Mexico to North Carolina, The Dharma Bums is one of the best travel books of all time. Kerouac could capture the spark of the open road like no other.
The friendship between Japhy Ryder (based on poet Gary Snyder) and narrator Ray Smith is the central storyline. Kerouac explores the admiration, lunacy, and love of friendship with a refreshing lack of hangups. He attaches himself to Ryder and serves as his scribe through mountainous adventures and all-night parties.
Along with Ryder comes the introduction of Eastern religions. The conversations about buddhism and mysticism aren't over-intellectualized and therefore sometimes dip into an a humorous innocence. From hobos to hippies, Kerouac manages to cram a lot of viewpoints into a few short pages.
One glaring absence from the novel are strong female characters. Kerouac's tendency to focus more on the men in his life speaks to the era, but also is neglectful for somebody who is taking in so many other details.
Kerouac is surprisingly open about his autobiographical details and this is a novel that strongly hints at his slip into the alcoholism that eventually killed him. The novel is full of Kerouac's stubborn brush-offs of friends saying he drinks too much, and for all of its lofty spirituality the narrator Ray Smith does seem overly focused on hooch. It's a sad aspect to a character with so much life enthusiasm.
The Dharma Bums is naive on many levels, but is saved by its sincerity. Kerouac doesn't seem interested in filtering many details, but still manages to move the story forward with the contained crazy form of a jazz song. The novel doesn't claim to make any major existential revelations but instead takes readers along for a ride in Kerouac's boxcar for an enjoyable 7 hours. This book will make you want to strap on your rucksack and hop the next midnight train to anywhere.
Buddhism, Hiking, and Wine drinking.. Topics I'm all too familiar with-- but in the reverse order. Did I learn anything new? Probably not. Did it answer any of those "life questions?" Nah, not any of mine at least, probably because I wasn't having an existential crisis to begin with. Were the tales told entertaining? I wouldn't go that far to describe it as such. At best, I was amused at some parts.
Although a bit dated, somewhat misogynistic, and rambly, I still found myself amused by the misadventures and tales entwined in a very "westernized" view of Buddhism. However, I think it's those very same qualities that give the book its charm.
"Ah Japhy you taught me the final lesson of them all, you can't fall off a mountain.”
But you can throw a book off one!
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.