Monday, March 6, 2017

Lonesome Traveler by Jack Kerouac -- A Review

Jack Kerouac was on the cusp of becoming one of the best known of the Beat poets and writers when this book was written.

Cover image for Lonesome Traveler, by Jack Kerouac

Lonesome Traveler

When Jack wrote Lonesome Traveler, he was working at various jobs while he tried to get On The Road published. He observed, lived through and recorded a time period of change in the USA. It was a time of questioning, a time of epic road trips and the introduction of variety in American literature style.

In this autobiographical work, Jack Kerouac writes about the years of his wandering, when he worked as a railway brakeman in California, a steward on a tramp steamer, and a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Lonesome Traveler includes San Francisco stories, New York scenes (the clubs, the parties), and a saved-for big trip to Europe. Jack was getting his culture education and wasn't afraid of working to achieve his goals. This generation was restless, curious, and a forerunner of the social movements to come. No longer content to sit and grow old in the same place as their parents, the young adults of this time period (the 50s) wanted to see the USA and the world'.

Kerouac also reveals more about himself in this book, as he talks about his goals, his work and how he writes. His personal life is always a bit 'in limbo' as his relationships don't tend to survive. He does remain in touch with the other members of the Beat group, albeit sporadically. A bit different from his stream of consciousness rambling, Lonesome Traveler is an enjoyable read with a lot of detail packed into the narrative.  I recommend this book for those who like the historical detail of the Beat poets and writers, or those who like to read about the man, Jack Kerouac. 

An Alley in 'Frisco

In recognition of his literary contributions, Jack Kerouac has an alley behind City Lights Bookstore named for him. 'If you're going to San Francisco' as the song goes, be sure to stop by and drop in at the City Lights Bookstore. Ferlinghetti, the longtime owner-poet-writer, ensured many of the Beat authors were represented there, along with poets and other authors.

Kerouac Alley in San Francisco, CA. by AC, prop DG Hudson

Have you ever read any of the Beat writers? Are you a fan of Kerouac's novels? Ever seen Kerouac Alley?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by! I'll soon be reading and reviewing several more recent books, one by Jessica Bell, and several by other current indie writers. 


American poet, painter, liberal activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

A to Z post on Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac, American writer