Thursday, 23 August 2012

Book Review: The Subterraneans -Jack Kerouac


In a few words, The Subterraneans; not what I was expecting.  Perhaps the title inherits an expectation of a more group involved focus, more of that party, smoke rooms and jazz meta-sex in spoken word, music and explosive ranting that he is so famous for.  Sure these moments ARE there, yet it just doesn’t register that the relationship he falls into is going to practically take up the entire 111 words.  Still, this ‘not expectedness’ was not exactly disheartening, it never is with the vibrant jammed packed Kerouac stream of conscious prose, even with such ‘downer’ subjects as paranoia, alcoholism and relationship jealousy that tears love limb from limb, it’s the way he writes that just brings the passion for life and dream philosophy alive. 


For it is a book about the heart. The most subterranean subject there is I suppose.  Some of it will grate on the nerves, the way that 15 pages will be expressing paranoia of his girlfriend supernova love flame, Madou Fox, just innocently playing around with other poets and then two or three about his depression on about how he fell into the paranoia in the first place.  Yet in the end between these Kerouac consciousness tedium’s, tedium’s that are very real to many men and women in the relationship sex-drug paranoia-underground wild-games anyway, there’s something so raw spirited and wild, a vein to the ocean that is the American-Indian/African aboriginality of this woman character in his life, a balance that supersedes his ego and comes at the feminine aspect of his prose life of love above the fields of prostitutes and groupies not present in any of his previous books.


For it is with moments such as explaining Madou fox’s ‘flip out’ running naked into the street and sitting on a fence “She was in the alley, wondering who she was, night, a thin drizzle of mist, … one slip in the wrong direction, endless space reaching out…cities in one wash of sad poetry, with honey lines of high shelved angels trumpet-blowing up above the orient-shroud Pacific huge songs of paradise” indeed, the traditional rant Kerouac fan will not be disappointed with this focus in this book, and the new fan might see his Zen-Buddhist metaphysical poetry closer to the theories of ‘the other’ so objectified previously.


For a deep romantic he really is behind all the wild superficial madness chauvinisms and alcoholism that sure, eventually brings him down, but damn, what I’m saying is that if you can read the flame of what he is saying behind it all, the sub texts of karma, life directions, dream life and fate life, then you can appreciate this immensity that he has put into words, the immensity that is ‘the ragamuffin dusts in the little kid’s corner and he’s asleep in his crib now and I love you, rain’ll fall on our eaves someday sweet heart” and the tragic… 

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