Desolation Angels

Desolation Angels

by Jack Kerouac


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The classic autobiographical novel by Jack Kerouac featuring "one of the most true, comic, and grizzly journeys in American literature" (Time)—now in a new edition

Originally published in 1965, this autobiographical novel covers a key year in Jack Kerouac's life—the period that led up to the publication of On the Road in September of 1957. After spending two months in the summer of 1956 as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington, Kerouac's fictional self Jack Duluoz comes down from the isolated mountains to the wild excitement of the bars, jazz clubs, and parties of San Francisco, before traveling on to Mexico City, New York, Tangiers, Paris, and London. Duluoz attempts to extricate himself from the world but fails, for one must "live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry." Desolation Angels is quintessential Kerouac.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781573225052
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1995
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 122,721
Product dimensions: 7.94(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.16(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), the central figure of the Beat Generation, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922 and died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969. Among his many novels are On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, and Visions of Cody.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Kerouac was a breath of fresh air when he came on the literary scene. He was also a force, a tragedy, a triumph, and an ongoing influence, and that influence is still with us." —Norman Mailer "Kerouac ... defines the sensibilites of members of his own subgeneration: we knew them as wearing such guises as the Beat Generation, the Subterraneans, the Dharma Bums; now we see them as Desolation Angels, sadly pursuing their empty futilities..." —Nelson Algren "Each book by Kerouac is unique, a telepathic discord. Such rich natural writing is nonpareil in later 20th century, a synthesis of Proust, Celine, Thomas Wolfe, Hemingway, Genet, Thelonius Monk, Basho, Charlie Parker and Kerouac's own athletic sacred insight. Jack Kerouac was a 'writer' as his great peer William S. Burroughs says." —Allen Ginsberg

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Desolation Angels 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kerouac was more than just a road happy bum. Here is sketches the Spiritual life of the Beat Generation. Not an easy read, and not for everyone.
selfcallednowhere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As is often the case, Jack manages to talk about not doing a hell of a lot besides running around with his pals and still make it sensitive, spiritual, and entertaining.
gerg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first part of Desolation Angels (the book is split into three distinct parts) can be quite difficult. It took me several attempts to get through it. Much of it is verbatim excerpts from Kerouac's journals while he was serving a summer as a fire lookout, alone atop a mountain in the North Cascades. The prose is rambling and abstract, though containing some excellent observations on life, childhood, memory, and dreams. It also documents Kerouac's struggle with Buddhism. I say "struggle" in the best possible way, the adoption of any new faith is not, nor should it ever be, easy. After Kerouac finally descends from the mountain and heads toward his familiar haunts in San Francisco and on the road, the book becomes slightly more like "The Dharma Bums," the novel which chronologically precedes "Desolation Angels" in the grand Vanity of Duluoz arch. Even more than in any of his previous works, Kerouac appears to strain under the pressure of balancing his wine- and people-loving sides with his side that just wants to return to his contemplations in solitude. Solitude and desolation play great roles in this book, contrasting with Jack's sociability, rising fame, and excitement about the ascendancy of the Beat Generation.Altogether, not always Kerouac's most readable work, but well worth the effort.
derfla3101980 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
great work of the beat lit. generation Always come back to this after "on The Road"
EricaKline on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Poetic, lyrical, steam-of-consciousness...about being alone, traveling, and his friends.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Better than ON THE ROAD, this book should be more touted than any other for its beautiful prose and insight. Surely it paved the way for modern classics such as 'Bright Lights, Big City' and the ever-popular 'Katzenjammer' by McCrae---both with their wonderful twisted prose and weird look at life. DESOLATION ANGELS is, by far, Kerouac's best work. It follows him from Washington to his 'downfall' where he is forced to clean up his life, the journey and the words will stick with you long after you've closed the covers on this wonderful novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Desolation Angels' is a book that appraoches literary perfection. While 'On the Road' is the book that most people associate Jack Kerouac with, I actually liked 'Desolation Angels' better, simply because it vividly showed a major transitional period in Kerouac's life. Starting with him alone on a mountain top in Washington, and ending with his falling out with old friends and attempt to clean up his life, this book delves into Kerouac's psyche in an unforgettable way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Contrary to others' opinions I feel this book is true Kerouac. On the Road is great, yes, but life can't exist in such a continious burning state - Kerouac discovered that...he discovered solitude, loneliness, truth...this book is his real spiritual truth declared to the world. And his honesty will break your heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Boiling off testosterone induced hysteria of crazy road days Kerouac finds himself a shell of what he once touted to be. Beauty floats to the surface when Hercules finds disillusion beyond premature disillusion. Genius unravels on the page through the chronicled free thought of a beat Beat. Slow, reflective, and spontaneous while still maintaining paradox and acidic perception Kerouac's 'Desolation Angels' is the crown jewel of his risky literary history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some readers find 'Desolation Angels' a much more difficult 'read' than 'On The Road,' 'The Dharma Bums' or some of Kerouac's earlier works, and there's a good reason for that. He employed a different method here, a more meticulous one. His earlier works were written 'on the fly' and more or less off the top of his head. The idea was to achieve some sort of literary equivalent of a jazz saxophone solo. 'On The Road,' in fact, was famously created on a continuous roll of butcher paper, so that Kerouac wouldn't have to interrupt himself to change sheets of paper in the typewriter, and he wrote the whole thing in one continuous paragraph. 'Desolation Angels' was culled in large part directly from Kerouac's journals. He wasn't typing off the top of his head; he was deliberately recopying and refining thoughts and impressions that he had written down elsewhere. The prose is gnarlier and more dense as a result, and more difficult to read. I agree that there is a sad, burned-out quality to the book. One line that leapt out at me when I was reading it was, 'Sad understanding is what compassion means. I resign from the attempt to be happy.' Obviously Kerouac had something of a dark night of the soul up there on Desolation Peak that summer, but he came down off the mountain at summer's end and re-embraced life. 'Desolation Angels' may be less fun to read than Kerouac's breezier early works, but anyone seeking to understand the man should make the effort.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Published in the later years of Kerouac's life this novel has the feel of being written by a disillusioned man. A man who is at war with himself between the need for solitude and the need of companionship. Between being a wandering monk and a figure who longs for the comforts of home. In his language this novel has glimpses of the energy of his earlier work, but the novel seems tired and exhausted. Kerouac can no longer sustain the need to 'burn' as he did in On The Road. In this novel he seems to be flickering out. The true Kerouac can be found in the earlier books. The Kerouac contained in this work is simply a figure of disentigration, not of hope and adventure, but boredom of the world and a wish for death. Not for the happy go lucky roadtrippers.