|Doctor Sax (1959) [Novel]|
by Jack Kerouac
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(From the publisher):
There is hardly another American writer who in the last decade has aroused so much excitement and controversy as Jack Kerouac. As the author of "The Subterraneans" and "On the Road," he has imprinted himself on the literature of our time as the authentic voice of the Beat Generation. Now, he offers another book, equally challenging, equally likely to make its mark on our literature.
DOCTOR SAX is a story of awakening youth in a grey, colorless New England mill town. It is the story of Jack Duluoz, like Kerouac himself a French-Canadian, growing up among the shadowy doorways and brown tenements of Lowell, Mass. Above all, it is the story of the mystery and terror of an intensely felt adolescence.
Like the Merrimac River whose ever-present roar mingles with the sounds of Lowell, Kerouac's prose sweeps along with the force of a torrent, washing away layer after layer of sense impression, until at last each fearful vision stands starkly vibrant. Always lurking behind the corner of Jack's mind is the shadow of Doctor Sax, his cape flowing, his slouch hat half concealing a malevolent leer. He is one of a host of ghosts, monsters and demons that inhabit his fantasy-ridden world. Memory and dream are intermixed in a mad universe which at last erupts in an apocalyptic vision that destroys the reincarnation of evil, and with it Jack's shadowy world.
Kerouac has prompted critics like J. Donald Adams to say that "he can describe the world of physical experience better than anyone since Hemingway." Here, descriptive passages magically bring alive the odors, sounds and sights of Lowell. They stand side by side with stretches of rollicking fantasy in which Kerouac displays an unending verbal inventiveness. Great lyrical tenderness at points gives way to a raw power which, as Luther Nichols says, "rushes along...burying all before it in one man's subjective impression."
Like the hero of his novel, Kerouac was born 36 years ago in Lowell. He spent most of his early years in the East, went to Columbia College in New York, later sailed to various Atlantic and Mediterranean ports as a merchant seaman. This is the fifth of his novels to be published.
Original title: Doctor Sax
Genre: Fiction→ General Fiction→ Literary Fiction/classics