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1alkali-feldspar Primeira Mensagem
Out 10, 2006, 9:43pm

I haven't had a brilliant "really? that's incredible!" discussion about a book in a too-long time. Grad school kind of killed off the life-changing seminar discussion for me and I've missed it terribly. Anyone want to help me remember what it's like to be dazzled by a literary discussion? Takers? ;) I'll join in post-haste, I just need a starting point.

2fleurdiabolique Primeira Mensagem
Out 12, 2006, 1:26am

Heh. I've been trying to think of a good conversation-starter for, like, a week. ;) How about just this to begin with: What's everyone reading at the moment, and what do you think of it? I'm currently about halfway through On the Road -- first time ever reading Kerouac, and I'm really liking it. There's something about his writing style that just sucks me in. Most of the time he's talking about these really trivial little details that don't seem to matter at all, and yet it's fascinating reading, at least to me. And I still haven't quite managed to figure out how he's doing it.

I'm probably going to end up writing a paper on the book in the next week, so maybe I'll post a little more as I get going on that.

3Hera
Out 12, 2006, 9:24am

Good grief: my English degree rarely had an epiphanal moment; in one memorable seminar I denounced my fellow students as being 'stuffed' due to their complete bovine lack of interest in literature. The best conversations I have about literature are with teenagers; they bring a fresh eye to everything, have no pretentions to literary theory and will enthuse for hours when they've read something 'life-changing'.

I could rattle on for hours about James Ellroy's style, though he's hardly what you'd call 'of the Canon'. As for 'the Canon', I have been re-reading the 'classics' ever since I got my teaching qualification. I have to say, the first read of the likes of Tolstoy, Turgenev, Hardy, Dickens, Shakespeare et al provided plentiful 'eureka' moments. I rarely get that now, although I've started my fifth re-read of David Copperfield and it's making me feel all cosy and happy, rather than stimulated enough for a debate...

4alkali-feldspar
Out 12, 2006, 11:13am

I was a little in love with Kerouac before I even read On the Road, and then when I did, I was hooked for life. I'm very quickly becoming equally as obsessed with his poetry and even more so, with his letters and diaries. There is so much buried within them that speak to the creation of a full person, not just the words on a page.

I read On the Road for the first time as a study abroad student (as well as The Subterraneans and The Dharma Bums), so the feelings of angst, loneliness, magic, and grandeur were impeccably timed. Are you at any special point where it means something significant?

5fleurdiabolique
Out 12, 2006, 2:36pm

I read On the Road for the first time as a study abroad student (as well as The Subterraneans and The Dharma Bums), so the feelings of angst, loneliness, magic, and grandeur were impeccably timed. Are you at any special point where it means something significant?

Not particularly. There's just something about his language and the way the prose flows that captivates me. The occasional line really resonates on a personal level, but that usually happens to me with any book I'm reading. Hmm... let's see if I can go back through my 70 dogeared pages and find an example or two... Nah, can't find any on a quick skim-through, and I'm supposed to be working on this paper so I can't spend a lot of time looking right now. Sorry.

6slindy
Out 18, 2006, 7:19pm

Hey, I don't know if this is open to all English majors, but I thought I'd mention that if you liked Dharma Bums especially, you should definately make an effort to visit City Lights in San Francisco: http://www.citylights.com/
as well as Vesuvios and Cafe Trieste!

7fleurdiabolique
Out 18, 2006, 11:41pm

Hee. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "HOWL if you like City Lights."

I wouldn't have gotten it at all if I hadn't sat through a lecture on Beat literature two days before. ;)

I've never been, though I'm in the area a good part of the year. Mebbe next time I have a free day or two I'll make the effort.

8slindy
Out 19, 2006, 2:31am

I'd highly reccomend it. Definately worth the visit!!!

9petescisco
Nov 27, 2006, 9:21pm

I second the statement about teenagers. The ones I know, the ones who read anyway, are great with enthusiasm. Makes you feel like literature is worthwhile after all!

And second also to City Lights. Spent a long afternoon there last month.

10bennui Primeira Mensagem
Dez 1, 2006, 5:08pm

I think a lot of people start exploring Kerouac with On the Road, then maybe continue on to Dharma Bums. At that point most people, especially young males, are hooked. I can definitely identify with alkali-feldspar's comment.

But then you start reading deeper into Kerouac's work and you discover that despite all his life-affirming, free-spiritedness, he was a wretched and sad person. As I get older, this paradox in his life and work is what keeps me coming back to him.

Perhaps nothing exemplifies this better than the footage of Jack drunk, slurring, and passing out on TV - you can see this in the documentary, What Happened to Kerouac?

I went to City Lights last year. Great little place. I also managed to make a trip to Vegas to seeing the touring On the Road scroll at a local library there. I highly recommend seeing that!

11alkali-feldspar
Dez 4, 2006, 11:44am

Re: bennui's post--

On the Road really hooked me in that I was desperate for escape when I read it for the first (and second) time, but I'm definitely entranced by the darkness that underlies even the idealism of that particular novel.

That he holds onto such wonder while struggling face-to-sidewalk with issues of faith, psychology, interpersonal relationships, substance (ab)use, and general disappointment absolutely entrances me.

12mrsradcliffe
Jan 30, 2007, 9:32am

Plath's The Bell Jar really chnged my life. I read it when I was 17 and thinking about going away from home for the first time, worried about being different and not having the same outlook as other people. It really moved me too how inside her head I was, so much that I could only see that she needed help towards the end of the novel.

13andyray
Jun 20, 2007, 11:35am

i agree with two words in #2's assessment of Jack Kerouac's work, but I'd have to take them out of context, comme ca:

"Kerouac . . . sucks."

The Bell Jar is excellent. If you like "delicious" English prose, you must return to those days of yesteryear when the English novels and epistolary novels were written, e.g.,

Pamela
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Wuthering Heights
Emma
Sense and Sensibility
Gulliver's traqvels and absolutely anything you can find published from 1500-1780.

The language flows and actually demands a sensuous caressing of the midn's palate.

14firstcitybook Primeira Mensagem
Ago 5, 2007, 4:36am

Kerouac is quite good and deserves a place in the canon of American literature (along with Henry Miller and Edward Abbey, all of whom are often overlooked). My favorite Kerouac novels are On the Road and The Dharma Bums. One anecdote most often shared about On the Road is that Kerouac wrote the novel nonstop, as though he were a jazz musician, over a period of three days while high on the equivalent of amphetamines. He also used a roll of teletype paper and created one continuous paragraph, which he later cut up. One of his later critics referred to the novel as typing instead of writing.