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Desolation Angels Mass Market Paperback – November 4, 1987


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade (November 4, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399503854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399503856
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,007,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'One of the most true, comic and grizzly journeys in American literature.' Time 'The Beats drug, hop freight trains, live on the road and contemplate Buddha. A nerve-jangling, sometimes sentimental, always sincere and funny book.' Sunday Times 'A beatific glow turns Ginsberg into a great poet, not a hairy rhymester selling his Vaseline jars as fake holy relics. Burroughs becomes an all-American folk hero, swinging and swaggering down the Calle Larache, rebuking his companions for walking too slow. All in a prose-poetry out of Whitman and Wolfe and Dylan Thomas.' Observer

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.

More 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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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This book, just as all Kerouac novels, describes life with a wide-eyed vivacity unlike anything I've ever read, if only in a less sunny way.
L. Estep
This book will be of greatest interest to readers with a strong passion for Kerouac who have read, for example, "On the Road", "The Dharma Bums" and "Tristessa".
Robin Friedman
Very moving, sad, beautiful, profound, funny, poetic- a treasure from a real man at the start of his turn into a caricature by the mass media.
Spunk Monkey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

202 of 205 people found the following review helpful By Jon Penney on December 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
There are usually two types of Kerouac readers. There are the "On the Roaders", as I call them. The ones that enjoy his style, his way of placing his friends' lives into the context of their own troubles, their loneliness their love-- all the while with a literary pace likened to a old pickup speeding across the straightaways of the vacant Montana backroads. And then there are the others, who like the former, enjoy the style-- but they also look for the sadness in Kerouac's writing. His ability to deconstruct people with one look (in Desolation Angels he watches a waitress in a bar and tells her entire life story in snapshot events that underlie the sad look in her eyes), to find the hidden sentiments in people's actions-- whether he's right or wrong we really don't care.

Desolation Angels is the book for the second group of people. It is tortuous at times-- like his solitude atop the mountain staring Hozomeen in the face every morning which reveals Kerouac's own struggle to deal with himself and his past. But I believe among all of his novels it is the most rewarding. The book takes us to all of his major haunts- London, New York, San Fran, Paris, the Mediterranean- with many of his closest friends - Neal, Allen, Williams S. Burroughs, Joyce. There's even a small part where Kerouac is face to face with Salvador Dali.

If you are looking for Kerouac-the-humanist at his best- this is the novel for you. Where the novel lacks in adventure (On the Road) and joyous affirmation (Dharma Bums) it makes up in sheer descriptive character study and sad observation, of a man trying to grapple with what he sees as the emptiness of all things, and the reality of his own personal struggles with life, love, and death.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Spunk Monkey on August 15, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book may come as a real shock to those whom have a preconcieved notion about what the "Beats" were all about, and it may also be a shock for those more familiar with the jubilant ecstatic life affirmations of On The Road or even The Dharma Bums.

In this book Jack goes on the road (with Mom), has sex with a fourteen year old mexican prostitute, meets up with a Neal (Cody) whom is a far fly from his On the Road days and is tied down with a wife + three kids and a job, meets Salidore Dali + William Carlos WIlliams + Carl Sandburg, gets his book published, is constantly compulsively depressed, has a paradigmatic consciousness flip after a huge dose of opium, meets up with junkie Burroughs in Tangiers (whom is lovelorn over Ginsburg), and kicks Buddhism down a notch for a more hardcore return to Christianity.

As others have noted, this book follows directly after the Dharma Bums and that book should be read first. What follows is Jack's experiences on the mountain which, contrary to his expectations in Dharma Bums, is almost like a nightmare prison sentence.

After he leaves the mountain, we enter into the first half of the book (his return to California), which is a bit ponderous and slow (but never boring). We are treated to a tortureous description of his day of betting at a race track with Neal and Corso.

The book picks up speed bigtime when he goes back on the road and then travels internationally.

His prose is brilliant and poetic and his observations remarkable and I think this book is brilliant; but it is also tremendously sad, deeply frusterated and lost, spiritually drained and destitute, and there is little ecstacy to be had.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By "deadkerouac" on March 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Wonderful novel by Jack Kerouac. We sense his deep loneliness and reevaluation of his life during his 63-day stay atop Desolation Peak in Mt. Baker National Forest in Washington State. Once down from the mountain, he sees how much life has changed once his novel "On the Road" is published. For those of you who loved "On the Road," "Desolation Angels" is a book you definitely must read--it's by far Kerouac's best and most personal novel.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jonathon on December 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Somewhere in the 409 pages of this book you'll find buried a truly great work of American literature. It is hard to fault Kerouac for his devotion to spontaneous and unedited writing; though these methods imposed limitations on what he could accomplish as a writer, they also contributed to what makes his books so fascinating. If Jack had lived in Hemingway's time, he would have submitted Desolation Angels to the publisher and would have been handed back a 300 page masterpiece.

The most problematic section is the first one, "Desolation in Solitude." I understand that Kerouac wanted to convey the sheer insanity of his isolation as a lookout, but considering that he already devoted about 30 pages to this in Dharma Bums, he essentially retreads the same mystic nonsense for another 70 pages without giving much new insight into his experience. The one interesting bit that comes out of the whole ordeal is the gradual dissatisfaction that Kerouac feels for Buddhism (which, through his interpretation, seems to fall a bit close to nihilism) and his reacceptance of Christianity.

But after this first section, things pick up and Kerouac delivers one painfully sad and and transcendentally beautiful insight after another (one of my favorites: his frustration at receiving a $3 jaywalking ticket on the way to a job, costing him half his day's pay-- but you have to read the way he puts it to understand, of couse). It is worth noting that Desolation Angels really is two different books written almost 5 years apart. The first half he wrote while in Mexico City (during events he describes in the second half, Passing Through), while the second half was written in Florida (I think) while he lived with his mother.
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