A little bit of light refreshment was understandably needed following the epic war drama I had just battled through, and this is where the achingly cool and undeniably handsome Jack Kerouac has come in. (Ladies, please see photo inset and be very impressed.)
Most of you will be familiar French-Canadian Kerouac, often lauded as the father of the post WWII Beat Generation, and this short snippet of his life, hurtling around Northern France in search of ancestors is a real reflection of that particular style. It is short, snappy, cool and poetic.
I was pretty sure this was one for the TBR pile, but as I picked it up at the bf’s insistence I realised that I had read this gem before, albeit it during rather headier days of my own, perhaps the reason for my forgetting. After a quick type into Wikipedia it seems that ‘Satori’ is a Zen Buddhist term for enlightenment, an area of spirituality that many of you may know came hand in hand with this generation of writers’ interests and something often reflected in their prose. As the title suggests, Kerouac experiences his Satori at the hands of a simple taxi driver in Paris, yet is nevertheless keen to point out several poignant moments throughout his whirlwind trip in search of his ancestry that may have occasioned a further moment of enlightenment for him. This is not a straightforward short story and the idea, I feel, is to simply enjoy the rhythm of his language (French included) the characters he meets and the atmosphere he creates. My personal interest in all matters etymological also gave this book an extra je ne sais quoi. It does take a few pages to become accustomed to his odd turn of phrase but, once you’ve ‘got it’, its well worth hanging in for the ride. This is an amusing little book, full of personality and excitement that left me wanting more. Beyond that, the only way to really understand this story is to read it for yourselves: