Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I have a confession to make: I didn't enjoy On the Road quite as much as everyone else seemed to enjoy On the Road. I'm not sure whether it's because people had forever been telling me how oh-my-god-amazing it is, and thus I went into it with really high expectations--too high, in fact--or if it's because I'm just not a fan of Kerouac's style. Either way, I'm sure it makes me a terrible person, but there it is.
So it begs the question why I didn't simply pass on by when I spotted Book of Dreams on the shelf while raiding my local library. The thing is, I love the idea of other people's dreams. They fascinate me. Myself, I dream almost exclusively about people who never were and places that don't exist, or places to which I've never been (which amounts to about the same, in the end), whereas other people tend to dream about those around them, their loved ones, about the things going on in their lives. They dream about their hopes and their fears and their desires. To experience another person's dream is like having a window into their soul.
Book of Dreams does indeed offer the reader a window into the very private world inside the mind of Jack Kerouac. (Or not so private, perhaps, all things considered.) But that's about all the book can boast, unfortunately. One would expect someone's dreams to be written in stream-of-consciousness or similar style, naturally, but this goes right past SOC into a poorly punctuated, run-on, rambling mess that is extremely hard to follow. Reading it actually gave me headaches until I realized that the trick is to skim through the lines really quickly and just get the gist of the material. Focus on the shape of things, the feeling of it, not the finer details.
Because of this, however, I only really learned two things from this book:
1) Jack had a lot of dreams about failed or abortive trysts with women.
2) Jack had a lot of dreams about queers. (His word, not mine.)
Paging Dr. Freud...
So anyway. Unless you're a dedicated Kerouac fan, or really into dreams and dream interpretation--even more so than I am, that is--I would recommend leaving this one on the shelf. If you must, read On the Road instead; it's about basically the same exact stuff, except it makes more sense, is marginally less rambling, and is easier to follow.
Kobra Kid, signing off.
[You can't stop the signal.]
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