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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 16 November 2003
For someone unused to the Beat style of Kerouac or Ginsberg, this book came out of nowhere and is now the book I would recommend to all who have loved, who have lost, and who desire love in the loneliness of their lives. This incredibly elegant and beautifully written tale of love lost through mistrust and jealousy is a work of poetic genius, weaving the Beat streets of 40's and 50's San Francisco around you as you delve into the life of the Subterraneans. A love story, a race story, a story for all,it climaxes in an incredible paragraph that speaks volumes on the subject of love and loss. This is the one of the few books i would recommend to anyone. Shockingly unjustly treated in the recent BBC top 100 books poll.
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on 7 December 2010
The Subterraneans is a fairly bland effort in comparison to alot of Kerouac's other works. It is, although deliberately so, a disappointingly single-issue novel. It tackles the declining relationship of Jack and his lover brilliantly, but with much less of the deviation, endearing insights and poetry-in-prose that a fan of the author will have come to expect. I would urge any fan of Kerouac, and any potential reader who has not yet done so, to pick up a copy of Dharma Bums, Big Sur or Desolation Angels instead.

Nevertheless, this novel still deserves 4 stars because it suffers only by comparison to the author's other works.
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on 16 January 2010
If I can get beyond the first paragraph of a book, I might consider buying it. I had read the first three pages of The Subterraneans before I decided that, if I bought nothing else that day, I was going home with this.

It is possible to become lost in Kerouac's prose, a phonetic stream-of-conciousness speach that occasionally gives you a chance to come up for air. Rare is the author who can maintain that in a normal book with chapters and a set-in-stone narrative. Kerouac is a rarer breed still; one that can do away with chapters and structure and keep up a good head of steam, whilst continually drawing the reader in with prose so rhythmical, I found myself tapping my foot as I read.

The Subterraneans is unlike anything by anyone else. The characters (all based on Kerouac and his associates of the time) emerge fully-formed and, in a short space of time, feel like old friends. The language is saturated with the slang of the time, but does not feel dated in any way. Kerouac's first-person narrative goes into enormous detail over seemingly trivial objects and subjects before doing a complete 180 without missing a beat or losing the thread.

There are people who would kill to be able to write half as well as Kerouac...
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on 27 July 2005
short and sprawling with some of the most beautiful prose ever written - and kerouac wrote it in 3 nights, filled with 1950s amphetamine. better and more wildly written than the chopped-down, straightlaced "on the road," though the story doesn't have the same grip. the fellow who was expecting a "big poetic book" (it's only a small one, after all) and who's complaining about page-long parenthesis must have a different idea to kerouac than most people, since these page-long parenthesis are often full of some of his most affecting, free-flowing prose. "and i go home having lost her love. and write this book." buy it, if you want.
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on 22 December 2015
This isn’t just one novel – it’s two, both penned by Jack Kerouac and featuring his typical idiosyncratic writing style. And yet, they’re both a little bit different from his other work in some ways, too. Pic, for example, has a lot of the same themes as On the Road, but it’s seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy from North Carolina. Meanwhile, the Subterraneans takes a look at love and life in a way that none of Kerouac’s other books have managed.

Overall, both of the short novels are essential reading for any serious Kerouac fan, and while they might not be the best place to start if you’re new to his work, you still can’t go wrong with them. The combination of the two makes for a gripping read, and my only gripe is that even with both novels in there, it still doesn’t feel long enough to satisfy you. It’s pretty damn impressive, really!
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VINE VOICEon 18 June 2004
Being a fan of Kerouac's dreamy style, I bought the subterraneans hoping for a great poetic account of the life of Jack and his fellow beats. However this was not to be the case. A short read that seems to last a lifetime, it is just tooo involved. Epic (100-page) love stories are not Kerouacs forte, and it is seen here as he drifts aimlessly from his classic style of combining concise with fantastical. Here he opts for uninteresting events and horrific amounts of detail (page long brakets anyone? Or perhaps the most unreadable parenthesis in commentary ever?).
Of course its not all bad, its Jack...
The Subterraneans does, for all its boring elaboration on stagnant relationships, have some decent imagery to picture the uneventfulness in. Another very nice touch in this editon is where in the foreword the 'true identities' of the subterraneans is revealed and reading about what Ginsberg, Burroughs and even the orginal Dean Moriarty got up to is a pleasant distraction.
For anyone who has been in love, you may enjoy this book. For the adventurers of 'On The Road' or the dreamers of 'Doctor Sax', I suggest you look elsewhere.
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on 2 September 2013
Having only read one Kerouac novel prior to this I was unsure of what to expect of his other works. I found it challenging to place the narrative at first, but that only made me more intrigued and soon I was enveloped in the fast-paced, vivid and fluid prose. The additional travelogue -Pic- also included in the book was a real hidden gem. A great buy.
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on 18 December 2012
I haven`t read any of Kerouacs works before so I just picked this up off the cuff. It is painful. Maybe I`m not used to his style but it seems at the moment to be almost unreadable. I haven`t started on Pic yet but I`m hoping it can save this purchase from being a complete dissapointment.
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on 10 July 2013
I really feel that I know Jack Kerouak and what he wanted to accomplish with his writing. He never wavered from his plan and I respect this. He could have been a wealthy mean in his lifetime if he had written as the establishment expected him to
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on 1 December 2011
after reading a bunch of his other works this is a really nice change of pace, very introspective, very rhythmical, same fluid prose and energetic writing but somehow it feels more alive and drags you in to his world in a way i didn't experience since the last few pages of dharma bums.
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