The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
Reviewed by Steve Rudd


“He doesn’t need any money… all he needs is his rucksack.”

There really was no end to Jack’s writing talents after all! This is the tenth book of his that I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and it is by far and away my favourite.

“When you get to the top of a mountain, keep climbing.”

Packed with all the excitement of his classic masterpiece On The Road, this follows Jack on the road in a similarly enthralling manner that makes the reader want more than ever to join him on his journeys of self-discovery.

The Dharma Bums has Jack closely chronicle yet more travelling adventures, closely focusing on a prolonged stretch of solitary confinement that he put himself through atop Desolation Peak when he worked up in the mountains as a fire lookout, scouting for sparks of blazes that had the potential to rip through the forests below. He also makes mention to such a time in his Lonesome Traveller collection of short stories.

“I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution, thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier.”

Much of this book also focuses on how he got hooked on being a spiritual man as he brazenly indulges in meditation and the like, all in the name of chilling out. In his best poetic voice, Jack excites the senses with his unabashed enthusiasm for living life to the full without fail. His writing style quite simply is utterly spellbinding.

“Sociability is just a big smile,” he quipped. That may be. But one thing that’s for sure is the fact that Jack Kerouac really was one of the most incredible writers of the 20th Century.

ISBN 0-14-004252-0

First published in 1958.

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