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Publisher's Summary

Jack Kerouac’s classic novel about friendship, the search for meaning, and the allure of nature

First published in 1958, a year after On the Road put the Beat Generation on the map, The Dharma Bums stands as one of Jack Kerouac's most powerful and influential novels. The story focuses on two ebullient 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.

©1958 Jack Kerouac (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"In [On the Road] Kerouac's heroes were sensation seekers; now they are seekers after truth...the novel often attains a beautiful dignity, and builds towards a moving climax." (The Chicago Tribune)

"In his often brilliant descriptions of nature one is aware of exhilarating power and originality...the entire cast of characters is presented with that not unrefreshing blend of naivete and sophistication that seems to be this author's forte." (The New York Times Book Review

"Full of sparkling descritions of landscape and weather, light falling through trees, the smell of snow, the motion of animals...Jack Kerouac is a writer who cannot be charged with dullness." (The Atlantic

What listeners say about The Dharma Bums

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Lyrical Rendition

I had read Dharma Bums and many other of Kerouac's books years ago and would say that they influenced me greatly. I thought it would be interesting to see how they translated to audio. I really didn't think they would because of Kerouac's rambling freestyle writing. I was wrong. The narrator had me in a joyful trance and brought back the emotions I had when I first read the novel. This is one of Kerouac's less frantic pieces and highly recommended to both fans and those who have not read or listened to him before. It was fun to listen to.

5 people found this helpful

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Stupendous narration!

The narrator brought so much dimension and liveliness to Kerouac's writing, making voices for the various characters (in a very non-annoying way) and giving Kerouac the same emphatic tone with which he writes. Highly recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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A beautiful performance of an amazing novel

It was an absolute delight to listen to this book. It’s long been a favorite of mine. Ethan Hawke truly embodies the spirit and soul that is Kerouac and brings each amazing character to life in this beautiful story of self discovery, friendship, exploitation, wilderness, and soulful
wonder.

2 people found this helpful

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Sublime

Hawke does Kerouac a words justice
Perfect message for all times especially the ones we are in now

1 person found this helpful

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Just amazing

Exquisitely written novel full of vitality and peace, real testimony to some true human souls living their journey of self discovery and playing with life. The reading is super and adds a layer of personality to keruak's unique writing style

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Loved most of it.

Too bohemic and mystical, not right up my alley, but I loved it. And great job Mr. Hawke.

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Enjoyed the "journey"!

Narrative was great, kept me going. Had trouble reading the book as Kerouac can sometimes loose me in his musings, audible kept my interest and was my constant companion for my morning walks. Loved it.

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A winding swirling journey to Buddhahood

I loved the language and the journey and the characters, and the locations.
Oh yes, the narration made the story alive a Jack would have liked.
Blah!

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loved it

I loved the story; made me want to go off the grid for a while. Ethan Hawke's voice made the book even better; his performance gave the book its whole vibe.

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Amazing Novel

I first read "Dharma Bums" in 1991. This performance by Ethan Hawke is first rate, amazing, with just the right inflections.