JACK KEROUAC’S AVATAR ANGEL by Chuck Rosenthal

JACK KEROUAC’S AVATAR ANGEL

His Last Novel
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The zaniness of Beat-specialist Rosenthal continues into his fifth novel (Loop’s End, 1992, etc.), as Kerouac comes back from the dead to see what’s shaking in his old haunts.

Except that he’s not Kerouac: in this incarnation all the names have been changed. So “Jack Duluoz” comes back to himself in Mexico (in 1982, for reasons that remain obscure), but hotfoots it quickly to Boulder, home of the Beat-beneficiary Naropa Institute, which is hosting a Jack Duluoz Conference. He meets ex-wife Parker and gets thrown out of her hotel room, wanders into Ginsberg’s place and helps himself to the whiskey before being shown the door, heads out of town on the night wind with Corso, to end up in Disneyland (via Vegas), where they get off the boat and pester the fake gorillas before being arrested with their Mickey Mouse ears askew. Bailed out by Burroughs, they retreat to Venice, then Jack hops a bus to Frisco, but it’s all piano bars and cover charges, and Ferlinghetti has been co-opted by the Young Republicans, so he hops another bus to New York, has a layover in Davis with Snyder that turns into a pleasant interlude, largely because Snyder is able to accept that he’s Jack-back-from-the-dead. But the road beckons, and New York leads him to a poetry reading in the Village by his daughter, who’s changed her name, and to an epiphany in her poems that sends him on the last leg of his cross-country tour—to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he was born and died (the first time).

There’s hopped-up frenzy and plenty of wit here, but with a dead-Beat premise and more lampooning than plotting, this story hasn’t a ghost of a chance.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-9676003-2-4
Page count: 150pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2001