So I'm thirty-five pages from the end of Point Doom, the serial-killer novel I had to step back from, and twenty-six pages from the end of The Dharma Bums, the Kerouac does Zen and backpacking I sought safety in, and I just remembered that the two have also intersected within the text, and this could be another reason Fante drove me back to Kerouac.
Early on the gritty SoCal AA mystery, Fante's protagonist notes:
Jack Kerouac once wrote that "the only people for me are the mad ones. . . who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn burn burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."
That's crap, but thanks, Jack. For the last few years in New York I'd tried to be one of Jack's people. In my spare time I wrote a book of poems and, before he died, I had even worked with my dad, Jimmy Fiorella, and coauthored a couple of screenplays, but eventually I discovered the truth about Kerouac, that crap, and those people: most of them wind up in the bughouse or with a mouthful of broken teeth and a jar of Xanax. Or worse. They wind up OD'd and dead. (13)
Fante has a point about romanticizing alcoholism, drug abuse, unemployment, homelessness, and the rest of gritty reality that sets in when the candles burn down and away, but Kerouac of The Dharma Bums seems much more "chill" than this famous quotation suggests.
At this point, I must confess I took a break from "typing" this blog (et tu, Capote), and returned to the Kerouac, and so I'm now within twenty pages of the end.
Alas, I took two breaks, and now I'm finished the book. For the most part, I liked the mood of the book and the descriptions of nature, and even the wild, all-night party sections were okay although I'd recommend Pynchon's V for that kind of party scene.
Okay, back to Fante and then maybe Norman Rush, Philip Roth, or David Lodge comes next. These slightly higher-brow writers are ones I've also enjoyed reading in 2013, and this summer, I also read and liked very much the afore-dissed Truman Capote's "Children on their Birthdays."
Sorry I meander and weave and provide so little detail.
PS--I finished Fante's Point Doom; the final torture scenes were not nearly as harrowing as I'd anticipated (why I'd moved away from the book a few times toward the end). The ending includes the perfect set up for a sequel, but I hope Dan gets us another memoir or Bruno Dante novel. Chump Change and Fante: A Family's Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving remain my favorites.
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