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Desolation Angels [Paperback]

Jack Kerouac
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 11 2002
With the publication of On the Road in 1957, Jack Kerouac became at once the spokesman and hero of the Beat Generation. Along with such visionaries as William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac changed the face of American literature, igniting a counterculture revolution that even now, decades later, burns brighter than ever in Desolation Angels.

In one of the major cinematic events of 2012, Jack Kerouac's legendary Beat classic, On the Road, finally hits the big screen. Directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries; Paris, Je T'Aime) and with a cast of some of Hollywood's biggest young stars, including Kristen Stewart (The Twilight Saga), Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams (Julie & Julia, The Fighter), Tom Sturridge, and Viggo Mortensen (the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Road), the film will attract new fans who will be inspired by Kerouac's revolutionary writing.

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Review

"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

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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
THOSE AFTERNOONS, those lazy afternoons, when I used to sit, or lie down, on Desolation Peak, sometimes on the alpine grass, hundreds of miles of snowcovered rock all around, looming Mount Hozomeen on my north, vast snowy Jack to the south, Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Road to Ruin Jan. 17 2002
Format:Paperback
Let me tell you a story. I had just come down to
San Francisco after a couple of years of bumming
around the Great Northwest. It was a Monday morning
and I had picked up a newspaper; bound and determined
to scour the want ads until I found prospects for an
honest job, with the full intention of becoming more
respectful. I went to a cafe in North Beach and had a
seat at one of the outdoor tables. As I began to unfold
the newspaper, I noticed that someone had left a copy
of "Desolation Angels" on the chair. I picked it up and
started to read it. Several hours later I abandoned my
faint tries at redemption and walked over to Washington
Square to work on some poetry. The man can flat out write.
That's why they call him the King of the Beats.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The ghost of what could have been a great novel May 27 2008
Format:Paperback
Full of despairing, incoherent digressions, Kerouac charts the period following DHARMA BUMS, and ends with the publication of ON THE ROAD. True, there are some sections where Kerouac is able to bring the pages alive like few writers before or after him, but a lot of the time he's simply describing, in insistent, banal detail, the day-to-day wanderings of his alter-ego, Jack Duluoz: sitting in front of the tube with Ginsberg, Cassady and his wife, hooking up with a young, aspiring, naive New York writer, slumming around Mexico...all this is perfectly suitable material for a novel, except it's less a novel than a blown up journal, with really no unifying themes to drive the narrative forward.

I enjoy Kerouac as much as the next guy, but after reading through this one, I really just came away feeling depressed and sorry for Mr. Kerouac and sorry for all the rest of us. And that's, in my opinion, the greatest crime a novel can commit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A journey into the mind of a true madman!!! June 26 2004
By Rob
Format:Paperback
If you've read On the Road, then this is a must read. It is a true journey into the mind of a madman. A more intimate look into the man that defined a generation of our parents, parents. As a younger reader of the generation today it is beneficial for us to see how people lived in past generations and take with us their experiences that in a sense you could not experience today. If I've taken anything from this book its the showing of the need for insanity in the life of Kerouac. And the need for constinent movement, not just in the physical sense but also in the mental sense of having his mind in constient movement.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book like candy (read it with love) March 22 2002
Format:Paperback
Perfect, absolutly perfect. Just like Dharma Bums, I had to take my time reading this book because every WORD is so important. Kerouac is a god.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Jack's many lives converge in this book. Dec 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 friend's 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 Des. 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 Salvidore 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 sad reality of his own personal struggles with live, love, and death.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Further reflections of a lonesome traveler Dec 18 2000
Format:Paperback
I disagree with the 5-star consensus of the previous reviewers - Kerouac's writing is not 'faultless prose', as he characterizes it himself in this novel. But 'Desolation Angels' is another fascinating glimpse into the heart of this daring and nomadic - literally and spiritually - author. One star gets shaved from my review for the unfocused, enigmatic opening section of the book, 'Desolation in Solitude'. A rethinking of 'Alone on a Mountaintop' from 'Lonesome Traveler', this section only thickens the fog in both the reader and in the author, it seems. It's not that it rambles - all Kerouac's writing does, and to point it out as a flaw is like insisting that Bob Dylan's voice sucks. Of course it does, that's the point. But Kerouac characterized the Desolation Peak experience before and did it better in 'Lonesome Traveler'.
However, once Kerouac makes his descent and rejoins the world in the second half of Book One and through all of Book Two, the way that his mountaintop experience informs his perspective in places like New York, Mexico, and Europe is engrossing and surpisingly intelligent. Drawing from a wide variety of influences from St. Paul to Buddha to Hemingway, Kerouac revisits familiar places and people with a broadened and more cynical point of view. Desolation Angels is more candid, forthright, even explicit, than its predecessors about drug use and sex. But it also reveals a more exhaustive spiritual hunger in Kerouac, and leads the reader to conclude that the author, in his quest to meet God, realized he had indeed found Him.
By turns a thoughtful, pensive, funny and risk-taking novel, Desolation Angels is canonical Kerouac.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The picture of unmaking
This book has been described as the journal of Jack losing himself. Some critics state that when he came back down from his time of solitude on Desolation Mountain begins his... Read more
Published on May 16 2000 by S. Mcdaniel
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the best book's I've ever read!
Desolation Angels is by far my favorite Keruoac book. I own eight other Keruoac books, and this was one of the quickest reads, most emotional, spriritual, honest books you'll ever... Read more
Published on May 13 2000 by Neil S.
5.0 out of 5 stars "I am part of the beatific generation"
In an era where taking your backpack and your self out onto the open road is a non-existant practice Kerouac brings us right back there with this novel. Read more
Published on May 1 2000 by Lane2016@aol.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Kerouac's best novel
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. Read more
Published on March 19 2000 by "deadkerouac"
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book...
From Desolation Peak to the down trodden journey on a beat-up boxcar this book was fantastic. As far as one of his better books, it's not, but hey all of them are fantastic. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2000 by Sean A. Leischner
5.0 out of 5 stars My First Kerouac
This book actually made me dizzy: fast paced, crazy, emotional, funny, crude and touching. I've never read anything like it. Kerouac reels you into his life, mind and heart. Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars parched...
it takes me only two sentences to completely fall in love with kerouac whenever i read him...desolation angels is poetry...lonesome...and inspiring... Read more
Published on Sept. 24 1999
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