Title: The Sea Is My Brother
Author: Jack Kerouac
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Da Capo Press
In the spring of 1943, during a stint in the Merchant Marine, twenty-one-year old Jack Kerouac set out to write his first novel. Working diligently day and night to complete it by hand, he titled it The Sea Is My Brother. Now, nearly seventy years later, its long-awaited publication provides fascinating details and insight into the early life and development of an American literary icon.
Written seven years before The Town and The City officially launched his writing career, The Sea Is My Brother marks a pivotal point in which Kerouac began laying the foundations for his pioneering method and signature style. A clear precursor to such landmark works as On the Road, The Dharma Bums, and Visions of Cody, it is an important formative work that bears all the hallmarks of classic Kerouac: the search for spiritual meaning in a materialistic world, spontaneous travel as the true road to freedom, late nights in bars and apartments engaged in intense conversation, the desperate urge to escape from society, and the strange, terrible beauty of loneliness.
I’ve never read any Kerouac, so when this book was chosen for my book club I decided to give it a go.
I thought it was an interesting story, if a bit aimless. Its main purpose seems to be an exploration of two aspects of Kerouac’s own personality — the responsible, academic side, and the nomadic free spirit that’s more evident in his later works. Each aspect is depicted as a different character. There is also a lot of rhetoric surrounding communism and fascism and the Spanish Civil War. Those are the parts of the book that didn’t really appeal to me. I’m not a fan of reading long-winded conversations and/or monologues regarding people’s personal philosophies.
Having never read Kerouac before, I had no frame of reference when it came to his writing style. However, according to others in the club who have read his works, this one isn’t as well written as his later work, though you can see the beginnings of his style.
I’m generally of the opinion that “lost” works were probably lost for a reason. But, if you are a fan of Kerouac, I think there’s enough here to keep your interest. Otherwise, you may want to start with one of his more known works.
- “Would I recommend this book? To a Kerouac fan or lit geek, for sure.” — Thoughtful Edits