by Jack Kerouac
Analysis: Writing Style
Free, Startling, Raw
Kerouac's fame has a lot to do with his unique writing style, and Big Sur is a great example of what makes his writing unique. Kerouac had no problem breaking all the rules, whether speeding on the highway, taking illegal substances, or breaking the laws of English grammar. As a result, his prose is loose and phonetically indulgent. He sacrifices correctness for sound and rhythm that well reflects the tone and mood of his subject matter. Let's take a look at a few examples.
You might notice number of made-up words in Big Sur. These may be words that sound like what they mean, such as:
- "…big elbows of Rock rising everywhere, sea caves within them, seas plollocking all around inside them…" (4.2)
- "…facing all the Pacific fury flashing on the rocks that rise like gloomy sea shroud towers out of the cove, the bingbang cove with its seas booming inside caves and slapping out…" (5.5)
- Or words intuitively adapted from others: "…those big gooky rainforest ferns among lightningstruck conifers…" (5.1)
- "…clear rushing unstagnated bugless drinking water…" (6.6)
Lastly, we should take a moment to appreciate the poetic nature of Kerouac's prose. Before you move on, read this passage out loud: "I go out on that porch and sit in the old canvas chair and turn my face up to all that mooching going on up there, all those stars crying with happy sadness, all that ream and cream of mocky ways with alleyways of lightyears old" (22.6).