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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potent poetic nostalgia
Note: Amazon's method for attaching reviews to their products occasionally defies understanding. Sometimes a review for an item might end up attached to a different book (or even a film!) with the same name that is otherwise entirely unrelated*. At others, a review of a specific edition of a book will also be affiliated with other editions of the same book when it...
Published 17 months ago by Sebastian Palmer

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3.0 out of 5 stars Jack Kerouac – Doctor Sax | Review
Doctor Sax is yet another one of Kerouac’s experiments with free-verse autobiographical writing, and it tells the story of his childhood in Lowell, Massachusetts. Yet while it might be about his younger years, it was actually written in 1952, when the author was thirty years old and living with William S. Burroughs in Mexico City.

You can tell he was...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potent poetic nostalgia, 29 Mar 2013
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Sebastian Palmer "sebuteo" (Cambridge, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Sax (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Note: Amazon's method for attaching reviews to their products occasionally defies understanding. Sometimes a review for an item might end up attached to a different book (or even a film!) with the same name that is otherwise entirely unrelated*. At others, a review of a specific edition of a book will also be affiliated with other editions of the same book when it shouldn't, as for example with numerous ordinary editions of The Hobbit vs. the 75th Anniversary Edition. In this latter instance there are significant differences between that specific edition and most others, with the result that not all reviews of The Hobbit can, per se, be associated with that particular anniversary edition. And then there will be the reverse; instances when different editions that are essentially exactly the same are not linked, such as here. So, for the time being I'm simply reproducing my review of the Flamingo edition of Dr Sax below.

My two favourite Kerouac novels are his debut The Town and the City, and this one, Doctor Sax. Whilst The Town and The City has many Kerouackian hallmarks - the attention to detailed settings; landscapes, people, food, all are minutely and lovingly drawn; a strangely joyful melancholy (his awareness of transience and loss making him ripe for later interest in Bhuddism, with it's concepts of 'mara'/illusion, and 'dhukka'/suffering) - it remains a more conventional novel, being quite large, well-structured, and formally 'correct' (compared to the more experimental writings of the times like Burroughs' 'cut-ups' and Kerouac's own more stream of consciousness writings - sometimes direct transcriptions of 'field-recordings' of conversation, goofing off, etc. - as exemplified by books like Visions of Cody).

Doctor Sax finds Kerouac covering similar territory in terms of plundering his own past, but by this stage his writing style is considerably more personal. I hesitate to use the word 'mature', because that's not the key-note to Kerouac's development as a person or a writer: his was an emotional as well as intellectual road, and Doctor Sax is a powerfully dream-like novel, in which the young Kerouac (as his Duluoz alter-ego) creates his own imaginary world, a world that blends fact and fantasy, and over which the bizarre Doctor Sax character hangs, like a jazzy vampire, both cool and disturbing. Indeed, a large part of Kerouac's charm might be said to arise from an inability to mature emotionally, although as a writer I think one can talk of his having matured over time.

One imagines that a room full of psychoanalysts could be employed from now 'til domesday interpreting Kerouac's romantically fevered inventions, but rather than entertain that rather odd possibility, why not read Doctor Sax, and see what you make of it? I think it's Kerouac at his best, in a concentrated and possibly dangerous dose!

* On one occasion when searching for 'Father And Son', looking for the Edmund Gosse novel, I was perplexed to find several of the reviews associated with the Gosse title were actually written about the Ivan Turgenev novel 'Fathers & Sons'; a quick look now shows that this error has subsequently been rectified.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Jack Kerouac – Doctor Sax | Review, 10 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Sax (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Doctor Sax is yet another one of Kerouac’s experiments with free-verse autobiographical writing, and it tells the story of his childhood in Lowell, Massachusetts. Yet while it might be about his younger years, it was actually written in 1952, when the author was thirty years old and living with William S. Burroughs in Mexico City.

You can tell he was living with Burroughs – the other great stalwart of the beat generation had clearly rubbed off on him, and much of his style can be seen in Kerouac’s words. Unfortunately, because of this, it feels like you’re reading a cheap combination of the two, a voice that belongs to neither Kerouac or Burroughs; there’s also less cohesion here than there is in other Kerouac works, although he can be forgiven for that because his work doesn’t really make much sense at the best of times.

Still, it’s interesting enough just to read about the enigmatic Doctor Sax, a character which haunted Kerouac as a child and which followed him in to adulthood. The author himself described him as “my ghost, personal angel, private shadow, secret lover” – you’ll understand that description if you read through the book and make it to the end.
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Doctor Sax (Penguin Modern Classics)
Doctor Sax (Penguin Modern Classics) by Jack Kerouac (Paperback - 3 May 2012)
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