I started this blog with Jack Kerouac, read The Dharma Bums in 2013, and then left Kerouac alone for a while—at times seeking inspiration from his haikus with blues, but otherwise favoring other writers.
Then in October, the New York Times mentioned a new audio release of Big Sur, narrated by Ethan Hawke (!). With my love for him not having faded in the least—expanding maybe—this felt like a good way to re-engage with Kerouac.
There's a raspy—sometimes weary + wistful, sometimes charged + energetic—characteristic to Ethan's voice that serves as the perfect conduit for Kerouac's spontaneous prose, and for this heartrending autobiographical novel in particular. Ethan's telling carried me through this reading. There are such moments, especially, where the slightest shift in his tone during a sentence, or a word even, made all the difference to the language and deepened its punch.“Ah, life is a gate, a way, a path to Paradise anyway, why not live for fun and joy and love or some sort of girl by a fireside, why not go to your desire and LAUGH . . . but I ran away from that seashore and never came back again without that secret knowledge: that it didn't want me there, that I was a fool to sit there in the first place, the sea has its waves, the man has his fireside, period.”