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.


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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. 


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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


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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. 

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References:

American poet, painter, liberal activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Ferlinghetti

City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Lights_Bookstore

A to Z post on Jack Kerouac
https://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.ca/2016/04/k-kerouac-jack-author-z-blog-challenge.html

Jack Kerouac, American writer
https://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.ca/2012/07/jack-kerouac-american-writer.html

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22 comments:

  1. Don't. Call it. Frisco. lol And I have seen Kerouac Alley. I've read some of his stuff but I always found some of his writing so pretentious, esp in Dharma Bums. Even though my beloved 60s hippies was borne from the Beat Movement, I was never a fan of that era at all. To be honest, I was more a fan of his friend Neal Cassady than I was of Jack.

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    1. What's wrong with calling it Frisco? I have always called it that. I lived in the US in the first part of my life and went to school there for some time.Is it offensive to someone who has lived there? Jack was also always impressed by Neal Cassady, but he wrote a lot less than Jack. He was more of a big brother to Jack, if you've ever read Heartbeat by Neal's wife. I like the Beat movement because they had a bit more purpose than the later movements, and were the beginning of change to a staid culture that existed after the Fifties.

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  2. Back when it was safe to travel like that, although many young people still do it in Europe. Shame more people aren't that ambitious or curious about the world.

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    1. I agree, Alex, to see other countries or even other locations in one's own country is an educational experience. It broadens our image of the world and helps us understand different cultures. And yes, when traveling today, safety is indeed a concern. Travelers must be aware of the dangers when planning a trip (and don't rely on the travel groups for accuracy on this)

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  3. I imagine that kind of lifestyle wouldn't lend itself well to relationships.

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    1. Good point, L. Diane, following a wanderer could get tiring.

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  4. I have not read any of the Beat authors but I have been to San Francisco. I wonder if younger people don't travel as much because they can see everything on their phones. I would love to travel more, esp. outside the US.

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    1. Seeing it small scale on a phone is still secondhand traveling. I would love to see more countries, too! With all the jockeying for trade partners it might be good to wait and see if traveling gets easier. Many Canadians (of colour) have been turned back at the US border recently. . .

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  5. Hi D.G. I've not been to San Francisco, but I've read some of the Beat poets/writers. Love Kerouac's On the Road. This one I haven't read.

    Just saw you answer to the previous comment. Wow. Canadians of colour being turned back at the border. Wow. Krazeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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    1. That isn't the first one who has been turned away, Denise, when in doubt about their 'heritage', they refuse the Canadians who were born in Canada because of her obvious Indian heritage (from India not native).(this was in CBC news) Also heard of US Border guards not letting 3 guys across because one of them was from a south Asian country originally, but a citizen of Canada now. I know one of the men. The guard even said 'a f***ing *****(referring to the Asian's origin country.) Not a very nice way to treat one of the USA's biggest trading partners. . .This is a good story about the man Kerouac, and shows a bit of how he viewed the world. Hope it's not hard to find.

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  6. Hi DG - I think I might have tried Kerouac at some stage - but failed ... probably because I'm English and didn't know anything about writing, authors, or about the States and the lonesome traveller, who has usually 'interesting' views on life - that I didn't read him or about any of them. I probably need to do a course to get to grips with them - understand the thought processes ...

    I did look him up and so have a jot of knowledge about him now ...

    How terrible to see your note about 'coloured' Canadians being turned away at the USA border ... I'm not happy to read that, or many of the other things going on right now.

    Thanks for the post though - and looking forward to more ... cheers Hilary

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    1. It might have been the novel you chose, Hilary, as some of Kerouac's books are written almost as run-on poetry (stream of consciousness writing). They are harder to get through and aren't my favorite. See my reply to Denise. As a person born in the USA, I'm appalled at seeing the USA going back to McCarthy era tactics!
      "During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies"--Wikipedia

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  7. Sounds like he knew how to live life.
    And having a street named after him...he's arrived:)

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    1. In one way, yes he knew how to follow a dream of writing, but in another, I feel like Kerouac wandered through his own life, always the observer, always sampling.

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  8. In today's world, poor Jack would do poorly. Ah, he actually did do poorly in his world, didn't he?

    I was tempted to get this book on audio when Audible offered it at discount recently.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and staying to chat. It means a lot when you do.

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    1. A lot of writers would do poorly when everyone's grandma and her backcountry cousins has a book out now, regardless of whether they can write. . .oops did I say that. . .

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  9. I've always wanted to read this. I need to, if not for the sake of it being an American classic, then because I am very much not a wanderer, and seeing 'the other side of the fence' might be interesting.

    Fun fact: our first agent, who we fired long ago, is the holder of Jack Kerouac's estate. That would probably explain why he has no interest in actually working and trying to sell books.

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    1. You should give it a try at least, after all he was a writer and observer par excellence, IMO. Yes, that agent is living off Jack's life I suppose, good thing you fired him.

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  10. This sounds like my kind of book. The only work by Kerouac that I've read is On the Road and that was relatively recently. I liked it and it did leave me curious to read more.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. This is a good book for learning more about Jack, his yearnings and his sense of wonder. I enjoyed this one, Lee, as he describes a bit about each job and the people he encountered.

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  11. I've never read anything by Kerouac. This sounds like a good book to read.

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    1. This would be an excellent one to start with. If you want to know what was happening in literary circles (what was stirring them up) then read some of the Beat poets and writers. Kerouac is one of the more popular of the Beat writers.

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