The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

Ah, the Dharma Bums – this is Jack Kerouac’s consideration on Buddhism from 1958. At the risk of coming across as idiotic Hipsters, we’ve decided to cover Jack Kerouac this week. We’ve been reading his books since 2004, we’ll have you know, far preceding any Hipster beard growth and skinny jean led popularity. Indeed.

The ironic thing about it all is, of course, Kerouac would have detested Hipsters for their spurious overtones and for conforming to a corporate identity. How do we know this? As he hated the Hippy movement in the 1960s, rather tellingly, and Hipsters are bordering this popular movement. Not that we despise Hipsters here at Professional Moron, we simply urge individuality. And stop wearing those goddamn skinny jeans, fools!

The Dharma Bums

Kerouac was The King of the Beats – a beat generation writer of terrific prose, intelligence, and insight. We’ve gone for Dharma Bums as On The Road is too obvious, and this is a good starting point if you’ve never delved into the fast-paced world of Beat Generation writing.

Other works, such as Satori in Paris and Big Sur, use an unusual writing style, but Dharma Bums is more traditional in its approach. It’s still a freeform style of stream of consciousness writing which is loosely based on Kerouac’s antics and considerations of Buddhism.

After meeting poet Gary Snyder, he became deeply involved in the whole spiritual malarkey, which he appears to have lost interest in later in his life, although Snyder claimed he never fully understood it. Regardless, Kerouac embodied youthful verve above anything else, and this is here in fine form.

Dharma Bums is a charming non-fiction (of sorts) book which deals with jazz clubs, drinking, smoking, and mountaineering. Indeed, there’s a glorious chapter where Jack climbs the Matterhorn Peak in California and you can positively feel yourself soaring above the clouds. After this, Kerouac returns to socialising, poetry readings, youth, partying, and the search for meaning through Buddhism.

It’s great fun to read, madcap, offbeat (as you’d expect), and really a glorious example of Beat writing at its best. Get a cigar ready, stick on some jazz, and read the thing like Kerouac meant it to be readed!


  1. Agreed. Best Kerouac book. On the Road also has that super awkward and long section where rich-kid Kerouac romanticizes dirt-poor lives of cotton-pickers because impoverished folk have it as swell as anybody!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, sir! You’re absolutely spot on, On The Road’s been warped slightly. Big Sur laments its success in many ways, and I think he possibly grew to resent the book. Regardless, it is good writing but he did far better.


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