Memory Babe
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Steve Hayes
2013-10-30 06:17:12 UTC
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The first book of Kerouac's I read was "The Dharma bums". I was turned on to
him by an Anglican monk - you can read about him and what he said about
It was a marvellously romantic story, and I've since reread it several times.
At the time I first read it it was banned in South Africa.
Why's that?
Just a note to say that the link above has changed, and is now:

I then tried to read "On the road", and was disappointed. The first time I got
about halfway through and gave up. I only read it properly many years later,
and read it at the same tome as "Off the road", which helped me to make sense
of it.
Wow, thats too bad. If I'd have read "Off the Road" before or during
OTR, Id have never read anymore Beat Literature. Sorry, but "Off the
Road", realistic or not, is *not* Beat [which is a *literary* move-
ment above all else] & is a false representation of the spirit &
intensity of the personalities & passions involved. If you need "Off
the Road" to make "sense of" OTR, then youre missing something. Youre
not getting "IT".
I suppose that in part it was because Gary Snyder was a much more interesting
role model to me than Neal Cassady, and seems to have had a better influence
on Jack Kerouac, who seems to have been very dependent on such role models.
I fail to see how you could propose that Snyder was a "better" in-
fluence than Cassady. They both inspired him. Its absurd to attempt
to discern which was "better", IMO. Also, I do see Kerouac as an
observer, but I think thats only because hes the one recording the
events that Ive read. A more removed perspective would put him very
much in the middle of the Happenings, & very much an active partici-
As an aside, do you think that you find Snyder a more "interesting
role model" because you are predisposed to religious thought? I only
ask because Ive been to your website, & I couldnt help but to notice
the overwhelming Xtian overtones.
And it was reading "Off the road" that made me realise that a lot of the
romance was not really there.
& you arrived at that realisation from reading the tale written by
Cassady's wife? Im sorry, I just dont think her interpretation of
events is important to the Beats in general. She was obviously going
to suffer the negative aspects of their involvement, & by that fact
only, is *not* a reliable witness.
It was just humdrum ordinary stuff written in an
axciting way.
You say that like the writing is no big deal; like its an aside.
IMO, the writing is of the greatest importance.
In some ways I've had more interesting travels, not in a brand
new Hudson, but in a beat-up 1936 Austin 10, or a 1961 Peugeot 403 station
wagon all over rust.
When is your novel coming out?
Until I read "Off the road" I thought I was a superannuated wannabe beatnik.
After reading it I upgraded myself to a superannuated hasbeen beatnik.
Lots of people have "interesting travels". I guess I just dont see
the interest that you have in the Beats if you feel that they are
the sum total of nothing but what youve already experienced, seen,
accomplished, etc.
Steve Hayes
Web: http://www.khanya.org.za/stevesig.htm
Will Dockery
2013-11-12 14:28:13 UTC
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Post by Steve Hayes
The first book of Kerouac's I read was "The Dharma bums". I was turned on to
him by an Anglican monk - you can read about him and what he said about
Thanks, Steve!
Will Dockery
2015-03-17 10:45:17 UTC
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All of them adapt that world to their own interests. The Beats were no
different. They are telling you what they wanted you to hear. It doesn't
mean that what they wrote isn't worth reading; on the contrary, the
pleasure of reading them is in their inventions and their beliefs, their
enthusiasms. But you can look behind what they wrote at what they actually
I must strenuously disagree. I don't think that sort of enthusiasm
can be faked. I don't think the soulfulness of Kerouac's writing, for
instance, can be created out of nothing. I do not believe that the
primary Beat figures were staged characters fitted w/false person-
Kerouac is often most enthusiastic in his expectations of what will happen
when he gets to a place or meets some people he has heard about. To travel
hopefully is better than to arrive, as someone said, and in a sense that is
what a lot of his books are about. The arrival is often a let-down, and that
is what Carolyn Cassady's book was often about.
Fiction is about staged characters, and invented personalities. Most authors
of fiction say that their characters don't resemble living persons, but they
often do. Any author's characterization depends on people they have met, but
they just mix and mingle characteristics. Kerouac doesn't do this so much. His
characters are often closer to people he has met, but he writes about his
personal view of them, somewhat idealistically. It is not so much the world
that is that he writes about, as the world he wants to be.
Agreed, novels using "Key Characters" and so on were being produced long before On The Road and Go.