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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

The Dharma Bums

I had been itching to follow up On the Road for a while, not sure I really gave Jack Kerouac a fair shot with just one book. I mean, I liked On the Road alright all in all, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. There were a few things with the story, not so much the writing style, which bothered me. But I knew that couldn’t be all someone of Jack Kerouac’s reputation had to offer, so I gave him a second shot with The Dharma Bums.
The Dharma Bums is most specifically about author Jack Kerouac’s journey into Zen Buddhism – which largely takes place in San Francisco – with his friend Gary Snyder, otherwise known as Japhy Ryder in the story. Kerouac’s journey isn’t just spiritual, though, but instead another tale of him bouncing from one side of the United States to the other – just as he did in On the Road. So, while the story is most certainly a spiritual venture for Kerouac, it is also – on the most basic level – a story about traveling.
Unlike with On the Road, where I struggled with a lot of the material in the story, I really fell into The Dharma Bums. I related to Jack Kerouac’s journey and felt I was part of his growth through each turn of the page. It was really a different time of armchair travel story and overall quite refreshing from the normal tale of I went here and I did this; I love those stories, too, obviously enough, but The Dharma Bums had a much sweeter taste.
My one issue with The Dharma Bums is in the ending. I do not want to give away too much for those who have not read it yet, so I’ll just say that it felt disjointed from the rest of the story. It really hung out there on its own, not seeming to be solidly connected with the rest of the story. But, overall it did not get me down and I still loved reading Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums.
Jack Kerouac has, in essence, bought another chance with me through The Dharma Bums. I was going to give up on him after finishing On the Road, but thought it was in no way fair to judge anyone, especially someone of Kerouac’s reputation, on just one book. And so, in the wake of The Dharma Bums – a book which I wholeheartedly recommend – I’m now looking to expand my library with another couple of books by Jack Kerouac. He is truly one of the most spirited American writers in history and someone who I am planning to more thoroughly explore.

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