‘Big Sur’

Posted in Kerouac, Writers at 9:04 am by Marion

Found my copy of Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur — It was buried in the attic along with my original copy of On the Road.

Reading those first pages I remembered just why I loved this book so much. The time is after publication of “Road:”

the book that “made me famous” and in fact so much so I’ve been driven mad for three years by endless telegrams, phonecalls, requests, mail, visitors, reporters, snoopers… Drunken visitors puking in my study, stealing books and even pencils — Uninvited acquaintances staying for days because of the clean beds and good food my mother provided — Me drunk practically all the time…

Kerouac has been invited to spend three weeks in the deep solitude of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cottage at Big Sur, California, where Kerouac believes he can find peace, clarity and an end to the crazy boozed life that’s trapped him.

Instead, when he makes a “secret visit” to San Francisco, he gets totally drunk with several friends and isn’t there when Ferlinghetti comes to pick him up, awakening in a seedy hotel room with liquor bottles everywhere.

He does make it to the cottage in the dead of night, and his description of taking the dirt path that night takes you to the emotionally tangled state of mind he brought to Big Sur.

I’m only a few pages in as yet but already captured, as I was the first time I read “Big Sur.” I believe it’s one of literature’s greatest confessionals.


  1. Tessa said,

    July 21, 2008 at 10:08 am

    I loved this book too and have read it over and over again. It is the most honest piece of writing…funny, sad, genius and heartbreaking. I just came back from Big Sur, tracing Jack’s steps…it was emotional and powerful-as was Jack.

  2. marion said,

    July 21, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I can’t imagine his trip along the dirt path, in pitch-black dark, with that monstrous Pacific Ocean roar. It reads like a descent into hell … and sets up the fearful stay to come. Thanks for your comment. MB

  3. Alex said,

    July 22, 2008 at 6:14 am

    I never tire of Kerouac. I just keep going back to him, time and time again. His a real comfort read for me. Big Sur is a great book…also love Desolation Angels…two very great escapes for me.