Tristessa

Tristessa

by Jack Kerouac

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Overview

In 1955 novelist Jack Kerouac detoured from his cross-country American travels to Mexico City where a group of junkie expatriates he had known from the New York City post-War scene had gone for the cheap and plentiful supply of heroin and morphine. Fellow Beat writer William S. Burroughs, who had been a part of the Mexican expatriate community, had introduced Kerouac to Bill Garver (named Old Bull Gaines in the novel), a much-older long-term addict who had in turn introduced Kerouac to Esperanza Villanueva, whom Kerouac named Tristessa in the novel. Kerouac fell under the spell of Esperanza’s dark allure and exotic surroundings and hoped to re-experience the “fellaheen nights” of his joyous adventures with Mexicans in his past.



Esperanza/Tristessa, however, proved to be a far more troubled and contentious companion than Kerouac had bargained for. Kerouac had entered a particularly contemplative time in his life—he had discovered an inner peace through Zen Buddhism and was practicing an ascetic lifestyle that included celibacy—a choice he later regretted. Although Kerouac managed to control his alcoholic tendencies much of the time in Mexico, Tristessa sank deeper and deeper into the belly of morphine addiction.



Kerouac returned to Mexico City a year later (1956) hoping to resume his platonic friendship with Tristessa and perhaps even pursuing a physical relationship with her only to find a desperately junk-sick, emaciated Tristessa who could barely function. Shocked, disappointed, and largely ignored by his brown-skinned goddess, Kerouac left Tristessa trembling and barely coherent, taking only his notebooks and memories from the unpleasant experience.



Blending his incandescent, highly-evocative, careening prose with alternately blissful and rueful meditations based on his Zen and Catholic teachings, Jack Kerouac in Tristessa documents a painful episode in the beatest of his Beat style. Tristessa remains a Kerouac classic—an iconic work emblematic of the world that existed far outside the living rooms of 1950s America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781942531210
Publisher: The Devault-Graves Agency
Publication date: 05/26/2017
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.27(d)

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.

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Tristessa 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a classic story. Idealistic boy meets skank ho heroin addict girl.Boy idolizes girl.Girl uses boy.Boy figures its ok to go on booze and heroin benders, but evil temptation to touch girl.Boy leaves to ramble around for a year then returns for girl.Girl has deteriorated in mind and body, and rejects boy.Boy's spirit is unbroken.This book is painful at times to read. The depths to which Kerouac plumbed in Mexico are frightening. It's a filthy, unsanitary world of drug addicts whose entire lives revolve around getting their next fix, and who have few redeeming traits. Kerouac's own addiction is front and center as well and as with other books, one truly wishes it had been different. Ironically he likens a dry junkey cough to a protest yelling "Wake Up!" but doesn't wake up himself. Yet somehow in the midst of it all Kerouac, the eternal beautiful optimist, the madman dreamer who wrote straight and true and with an open heart, finds angelic beauty in Tristessa, an emaciated heroin addict. It's amazing and a testament to his own beauty that he would do so. He does not flinch in putting down the ugly truths in these people's lives and his own life. The honesty in his thoughts and feelings is always present.Unfortunately, Kerouac's writing at times slurs beyond stream of consciousness and into just bad writing in need of an editor; this is particularly true at the beginning of the book so if you do read it, hang in there until p. 38 ("I GO DOWN the Wild street of Redondas..."), where it picks up and is more consistently coherent.Quotes:"...that face so expressive of the pain and loveliness that went no doubt into the making of this fatal world, - a beautiful sunrise, that makes you stop on the sands and gaze out to sea hearing Wagner's Magic Fire Music in your thoughts - the fragile and holy countenance of poor Tristessa, the tremulous bravery of her little junk-racked body that a man could throw up in the air ten feet...""'A million pesos does not move - but when you got the friend, the friend give it to you in the bed' she says, legs spread a little, pumping with her loins at the air in the direction of my bed to indicate how much better a human being is than a million paper pesos - I think of the inexpressible tenderness of receiving this holy friendship from the sacrificial sick body of Tristessa and I almost feel crying or grabbing her and kissing her - A wave of loneliness passes over me...""'We are nothing. Tomorrar we may be die, and so we are nothing - " I agree with her, I feel the strangeness of that truth, I feel we are two empty phantoms of light or like ghosts in old haunted-house stories diaphanous and precious and white and not-there...""...so all I do is stare at her eyes and I have never seen such a girl - Her eyes seems to say 'I love my father even tho he takes narcoticas, but please dont come here, leave him alone'""Because Tristessa needs my help but wont take it and I wont give - yet, supposing everybody in the world devoted himself to helping others all day long, because of a dream or a vision of the freedom of eternity, then wouldnt the world be a garden?""I'll go to the South of Sicily in the winter, and paint memories of Arles - I'll buy a piano and Mozart me that - I'll write long sad tales about people in the legend of my life - This part is my part of the movie, let's hear yours"
campingmomma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, I'm kind of on the fence with this book. I'm trying to expand my literary horizons and have started to read some of the beat authors such as Kerouac and Burroughs. This book was like reading poetry, at first...then his improper and/or lack of punctuation started to make it difficult to read. I'm sure this was intentional, but it really started to get irritating. The story itself was a good story, I enjoyed it, though I was disappointed it didn't have the ending I felt the book needed. I really enjoyed William S. Burroughs style of writing better, but I have only read one book from each of the writers, so we'll see how I feel after some more 'research'.
the_terrible_trivium on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started reading On The Road once upon a time, but gave up 50 pages in because of how immensely boring it was, particularly the prose style. This one has more the sort of prose I hoped for from him- poetic, free flowing stream-of consciousness type stuff. And much shorter. Unfortunately, though, nothing at all happens.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book four years ago, and over time it has become one of my favorites. I¿m amazed that On the Road is so celebrated. I think this book is the one where Kerouac begins to see that the bohemian lifestyle has it¿s downside too. Tristessa is incredible in that it shows the story of a truly wasted life. Tristessa is smart, beautiful, and full of love. Yet her surroundings and the circumstances of her impoverished conspire to destroy her. Jack catches her right at that moment when she can turn it all around or sink forever into the abyss. She still has a chance. The significance of that fact is what the story is about. She has a chance, but it s most likely her last chance for salvation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like Burrough's 'Naked Lunch' many might think this book may ramble. But that's not really the case. Form follows function in this romantic tale of a Mexican prostitute and the main character's attempts to woo her. Autiobiographical, as is the case with most of Kerouac's books, 'Tristessa' is much more enjoyable than 'On the Road' or even his 'Desolation Angels.' Truly a remarkable look at life and writing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
it is absolutely unbelievable that a person can write a book like kerouac does, and people can read it, and understand it completely. written in a stream-of-conciousness manner, with little 'long length description,' Tristessa is a deeply poetic work - of compassion, love, lust, greed, and selflessness - an amazing description of the ravages of drug use in a down-and-out kinda town. Kerouac's book THE DARMA BUMS is the story that takes place between the first and second halves of Tristessa. Kerouac's enigmatic way of intertwining his literary works has impressed readers for nearly fifty years
Guest More than 1 year ago
"Tristessa" is a heart wrenching and beautifully written account of a point in Jack Kerouac's life when Buddhism was just starting to become an influence in the authors illustrious life. The compassion shown by the main character in this book conflicted by the cruel addiction endured by the Mexican prostitute he endears, along with the setting of the fellaheen slums of Mexico circa 1950 form a lugubrious love story told subjectively by Kerouac. This book is full of conflict, from the main character's own conflicts between longing and faith, the conflict between static and dynamic characters, to the schism between Buddhism and Christianity. The conflict in this short novel is the driving force behind the writter. Kerouac's use of symbolism and his renowned poetic prose enthrall the reader and make this book very hard to put down.