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by Jack Kerouac

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1965
ISBN: 1573225053
Publisher: Coward-McCann

Kerouac's Desolation Angels may be dealt with quickly. It's a long prose-poem in the form of a memoir-novel, in which the author (calling himself, as he's done elsewhere, Jack Duluoz) explores three phases of his life: the Zen-seeker bit (camping out on mountain tops, awaiting the joyful-sorrowful illumination); then the Frisco-New York prelude to fame; finally the after-effects of being immortalized by the Luce publications and further dizzy-dim wanderings through North Africa, Europe and America. There are Heideggerian sub-titles (Desolation in Solitude, Desolation in the World), lots of vaudeville lyricism ("I'm gonna take it all in. Incredible the things I saw"), any number of atmospheric underlinings ("'s a jazz-joint and beat generation madtrick"), and one frenetic, funny, free-associational scene after another. Its impact (and best-seller possibilities) lie elsewhere, however, for here Kerouac spills the beans about the sex life, psychological hang-ups, and publicity maneuverings of himself, Ginsberg, Corso, Burroughs and Peter Orlovsky. Angels is lit up with the glare of "scandal" and, in its exposure of the above members of the avant-beatnik world, may well wing its way to the wide audience the publisher anticipates.