The Dharma Bums Part I

My senior year of high school (six years ago), I was enthralled with Jack Kerouac. I ate up his books. I'd skip my law class so I could wander to a nearby park and read Kerouac. I wanted so badly to be a wandering beatnik who delighted in simply existing. My favorite book of his is The Dhamra Bums--not one of his well known books--I came across it via a good friend's recommendation. At the time, the public library was my haven---we had no internet at home, so I paid a quarter an hour to send emails back and forth to my boyfriend who lived two hours away. I did my homework near the small art gallery that housed locals' artwork on the second floor and a few times a week, I'd check out new books: Steinbeck, Robbins, Kerouac, etc. I found The Dharma Bums tucked away in some odd place in the library. I loved this book. I considered stealing it, just not returning it...but I loved it so much that I returned it in hopes that some other dreamer like myself would come across it and fall in love with it as much as I did.

Once I finished reading it, I began my search for a used copy of the book. But it couldn't be a used copy from Amazon or Ebay...I had to buy it from a bookstore. So the hunt began. I searched high and low at any bookstore I wandered into, but could not find a copy...until last summer. One afternoon in July I wandered into Bluestem Books like I had so many times before, greeted the kind-faced old man of a storeowner and asked him if he gotten any copies of The Bums in. "Actually..." he started and then led me to the Kerouac section of the store. I found it there---it had just recently been marked down from $15 to $6. I also bought a book of Gary Snyder poetry that day. I had all intentions of sending The Dharma Bums to the friend who recommended the book to me....but, my selfish desires got the best of me, and I sent him the Snyder book instead (which...he probably enjoyed more anyway).

The book has been sitting on my bookshelf near other more obscure Kerouac books (Orpheous Emerged, Lonesome Traveler and his well known book On The Road) for just about a year. But a few weeks ago a friend and I got to talking books. I found through gentle prodding that he had not read The Dharma Bums. So I insisted that he take my copy and read it. He did...and he loved it...it's not surprising since it really is a literary masterpiece (more about that to come). After chatting with said friend about the book, I decided that I would read it again this summer. So---late Thursday night I started reading the book. I read a few hours yesterday and an hour today and am hoping to finish it today (if I can procrastinate my graduate homework any longer). I've been scribbling insights on my bookmark and found that I have ran out of room...so...this weekend I will post my insights/ramblings about the book where I have unlimited space :) If you're interested, be watching for another post on 'Da Bums!

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