As a writer, Kerouac is becoming more and more like the sad sack who missed the turn-off on the thruway and must now seemingly go on and on until he hits the next one. This, his latest "written on the run" remembrance, celebrates the short, sad, happy, holy life of Gerard, a brother who died from rheumatic fever at the age of 9 when Kerouac was 4. A sort of Alyosha-in-knickers, Gerard in his "little high crazycat voice" warned Jack to be kind to animals and took him "by the hand on forgotten little walks". Jack now draws "breath to tell his pain-tale for the world that needs his soft and loving like". Gerard plays with cats, birds, bubblegum cards; he goes on piggyback rides and to confession; once or twice he sees the Virgin. After the funeral, Jack concludes that life is a "vast ethereal movie, I'm an extra and Gerard is the hero and God is directing it from Heaven".... Well, what does it amount to? On one level, a book of boyhood beatitudes with a corner of Lowell, Massachusetts in the early '20's sorving as a backdrop. On another, some very contemporary concerns are represented: the search for and/or return to innocence (e.g. Salinger and his "brother" Seymour); the selfless ideal of Zen; and above all, an artistic credo. Ironically enough, nothing in Visions is as on-the-level and lovely as a comment Jack made a few years back: "After my brother died, when I was 4, they tell me I began to sit motionlessly in the parlor, pale and thin, and after a few months of sorrow began to play the old Victrola and act out movies to the music". At that time, Kerouac was the white hope of our world. May he become so again. And may he find the turn-off on the thruway.