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Extended Audio Sample Big Sur Audiobook, by Jack Kerouac Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (11,624 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jack Kerouac Narrator: Grover Gardner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9781455175147
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Big Sur was written some time after Kerouac’s best-known work, following a visit to northern California and the first ravages of midlife crisis. Kerouac stayed for several weeks in a cabin in Big Sur and with friends in San Francisco. Upon returning to Florida, he wrote this account in a two-week period.

Coming down from his carefree youth, Kerouac undertakes a mature confrontation of some of his most troubling emotional issues. The book reveals Kerouac’s burgeoning problem with alcoholism and the mental duress aggravated by his unwanted fame. Degenerating into addiction, fear, and insecurity, he dutifully records his ever-changing states of consciousness, which culminate in a powerful religious experience. Critic Richard Meltzer referred to Big Sur as Kerouac’s “masterpiece, and one of the great, great works of the English language.”

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Quotes & Awards

  • Big Sur is a humane, precise account of the extraordinary ravages of alcohol delirium tremens on Kerouac…At the peak of his suffering humorous genius, he wrote through his misery to end with ‘Sea,’ a brilliant poem appended on the hallucinatory sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur.”

    Allen Ginsberg

  • Big Sur is so devastatingly honest and painful and yet so beautifully written…He was sharing his pain and suffering with the reader in the same way Dostoyevsky did, with the idea of salvation through suffering.”

    David Amram 

  • “For a narrator [this book] contains extraordinary difficulties, for the writing flies off into inebriated, overly long sentences that reflect, describe, or just babble forward in a kind of free association. To keep such passages flowing while making sense out of them is no mean feat. [Grover Gardner] pulls it off…He even manages to sound as if he were enjoying himself.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Todd Johnson | 2/9/2014

    " Great piece of his later writings. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aaron | 2/4/2014

    " I was mad at myself for giving this a try. I had read both "On the Choad" and "Dharma Bums." Both books were an exquisite example of the style over substance phenomenon. Youths exclaiming that they really...wholly...totally experienced something new and fulfilling that those crappy oldies just wouldn't understand. while I probably wouldn't enjoy an evening with your average American family of the 50's (I'm imagining rampant racism and a good dose of casual sexism thrown around the dinner table) Jacky's crew seemed to inhabit a dangerous and extreme counter point (not to mention an uninteresting one, at least by literary standards). In "Big Sur" Kerouac's world is turned on his head and the hollow idealism transforms into a world inhabited by the loneliness of fame, the danger of "friends," and the monstrous effects of a constant desire to alter your reality through substance abuse. A work that is real, terrifying, and constantly intriguing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fiona | 12/24/2013

    " This is a classic - when I'm feeling like life is a little too proscribed, a short dip into the hundred mile and hour freakshow of Kerouac sets me on the right path again. I've read it before, but not as an adult. I do have to say though, that it is less compelling as an adult - the characters impress me less now. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 12/19/2013

    " Not as good as on the road but still very good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kyle | 12/17/2013

    " So enthused I had to 5-star it before crossing the finish line. Can hardly remember on the road. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trystan | 12/6/2013

    " There always seemed to be some underlying sadness in Kerouac's 'On The Road' and here it is in the form of his alcoholism. A very honest book about despair and drink. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Leslie | 12/1/2013

    " Like reading Kerouac's thoughts. His writing is not for me though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steven | 11/14/2013

    " Not that bad a read & pretty easy to get through (for a Kerouac book anyway). Decent read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amyshaft | 11/7/2013

    " Kerouac is spending a lot of time drunk in a bathtub. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 William Porter | 1/16/2013

    " Amazing religious zen activities that description will mesmerize the thought patterns and seem as if one was with Jack back in time! Beautiful! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Wildsmith | 5/24/2012

    " Unflinchingly honest, sensitive and tragic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Camille | 4/1/2012

    " Sombering look at a psychotic break. I liked this book better than On The Road, it was more genuine to me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patrick Santana | 1/5/2012

    " Full of honest pain and self criticism, even as Kerouac struggles to see beauty and meaning in the universe. If you've ever wondered what it feels like to be an alcoholic, this gives an intense insider's view. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cameron | 9/6/2011

    " This is Kerouac's letter from hell: an unsettling & poignant account of his descent into alcoholism and madness, set against the backdrop of Big Sur and San Francisco. In my opinion, easily his best and most affecting work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 J. Shimotake | 8/31/2011

    " I read this pressed up against a tuba...I taste brass when I think of this book... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nate Markham | 8/5/2011

    " My favorite Kerouac work. A beautiful poem. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clay | 5/12/2011

    " This is the best Kerouac I have read to date. It is a terrifying read, yet, it was incredibly poetic, real and oddly grounded. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joana | 5/1/2011

    " -'Whatever I say Ben, dont mind it, I'm just a fool' - 'You said in 1957 in the grass drunk on whiskey you were the greatest thinker in the world' - 'That was before I fell asleep and woke up: now I realize I'm no good at all and that makes me feel free' "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Angie | 4/7/2011

    " Wonderful delve into the horrors of alcoholism and the inner depths of Kerouac's mind. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan | 3/28/2011

    " One of the saddest books I've ever read. Kerouac breaks my heart in this. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 J | 3/5/2011

    " A very sad book about people giving up on you because you give up on your self. The prelude to the literary downfall of some guy/buddha, who eventually drank himself to death. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ryan | 2/23/2011

    " I love Jack Kerouac's narrative style. On The Road had a big influence on me and Big Sur is definitely one of his best. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jaza | 2/16/2011

    " It was one of the hardest books I've had to read. But this has to do just with me and how I was feeling at the time I read it. I liked how I felt finishing it though... relieved and happy. Don't read it if you're feeling down or paranoid... "

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About the Author
Author Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac (1922–1969) was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1922. He attended local Catholic schools and eventually Columbia University, becoming in the late 1940s and early 1950s a member of what was soon to be called “the beat generation.” His first novel appeared in 1950, but it was On the Road, published in 1957, that epitomized to the world the beat philosophy. This novel created a sensation by chronicling a spontaneous and wandering way of life in a style that seemed founded both on jazz and on drug-induced visions. Kerouac published several novels, and Mexico City Blues is a volume of his poetry. 

About the Narrator

Grover Gardner (a.k.a. Tom Parker) is an award-winning narrator with over eight hundred titles to his credit. Named one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, he has won three prestigious Audie Awards, was chosen Narrator of the Year for 2005 by Publishers Weekly, and has earned more than thirty Earphones Awards.