Book Review: "The Sea is My Brother: The Lost Novel" by Jack Kerouac

Friday, June 21, 2013

 “What wrong was there in treating his own life, within the bounds of moral conscience, as he chose and as he freely wished? Youth was still his, the world might yet open its portals.”
Before Millennials coined the term "Fear of Missing Out" or "FOMO" (please shoot me, I can't believe I'm even using those terms) Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation felt it. The yearning for freedom, the need to transcend boundaries and be your own person, to explore the world - these were all things that the Beats felt and wrote about in their works. The Sea Is My Brother delves into the need to live your life, to run away from the predictable in search of the sea - the wildest, most unpredictable thing on Earth.

A precursor of Kerouac's more impressive works, On The Road, and my personal favorite, The Dharma Bums, The Sea Is My Brother tells the tale of two men whose lives intersect with the Merchant Marine. Each character is somewhat biographical, with one representing Kerouac as a university student and scholar, and another representing the blue-collar, don't give a damn mentality.

Those who are fans of Kerouac's writing will find a lot to love in this novel. The hitchhiking, womanizing, philosophizing...those are all there, and fully fleshed out by his stream-of-consciousness yet always coherent style. Still, you feel like there is a lot of growing for Kerouac to do. This is idealistic yet jaded Kerouac, spewing out alcoholic rants and insights while dreaming of a better future.
“Does this mean that frontiers from now on are to be in the imagination?” 
I highly recommend this book to Kerouac fans looking to complete their collections. It was an enjoyable read, and I loved reading about the Cold War and life in the merchant marine. My verdict? Pour yourself a few fingers of whiskey, kick your feet up, and pretend you're a rough-shod sailor who can't turn off your brain. I have a feeling you'll enjoy it. I did.

To see my nautical fashion take on The Sea Is My Brother, check out Off The Book's new section, Fashion Meets Fiction.