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Tristessa (Duluoz Legend)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  3,743 ratings  ·  175 reviews
Tristessa is a novella by Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac set in Mexico City. It is based on his relationship with a Mexican prostitute (the title character). The woman's real name was Esperanza ("hope" in Spanish); Kerouac changed her name to Tristessa ("tristeza" means sadness in Spanish and Portuguese).
Published (first published 1960)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Baiocco
Sep 28, 2007 Baiocco rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cynical Kerouac Haters
Shelves: fiction
I'll admit I wrote my college entrance essay on "On The Road" and at that time in my life I was, like everyone else, inspired by the wild, wide-eyed, ideas of travel and adventure in America. I've returned to "On The Road" via "Dharma Bums" and "The Subterraneans" and "Desolation Angels" over the years to mixed results. I found instead of an entire philosophy of living that I could (and at one point did) subscribe to, rather sparks and gems of literary minerals I could use for inspiration. I gue ...more
Evan
Tristessa, you wily little book flighty as a cat, I should practice Satyagraha and resist my sinister urges to hoo haa your ever-loving Holy graces and wonder in the traces of your manna, all manna of manna, all eat-table and unbeatable and good and thirst-slaking, forsaking my faculties and reveling in the alacrity of all things, like you Mr. K., chronicler of the haloed hollowed hollow-cheeked hollerers of Holiness.

Kerouac, you sing-song like sacred ping-pong, rhythmically and hymnally and hip
...more
Rand
Evidence of a great talent in slow decline, but still a fun read nonetheless. Reminiscent of his shorter works such as The Scripture of the Golden Eternity as well as Mexico City Poems and Pomes All Sizes. Kerouac’s at his painterly best here, portraying both the horrors of opiate dependence and the despondency of life in a country without a strong economic base wholly without commentary. It is up to the reader to draw their own conclusions from this slim novella.

This book’s place within the “Du
...more
Stuart Ayris
Tristessa. What a beautiful name - you can't say it aloud wwithout feeling a sense of wonder, a sense of peace, a feeling that things are slowing down in the most perfect of ways. Yet this book (not sure it's a novel as it's not even a hundred pages yet not sure still it's a book as it's more like a film, a faded, dream sodden broken breaking film) is far from wonderous, far from peaceful and if pain is perfection then it's perfect indeed. Tristessa is what it's called and Tristessa is the name ...more
Emily Seaman
I would actually rate this book a -1. Hated it. Read to page 20 TWICE (it's a 97 page book) and couldn't understand anything that was going on. Something about roosters. Call me crazy, but I require books with punctuation.
J.P.
Jack Kerouac is one of my all-time favorite writers, and a prime reason why I became a writer myself. The man wrote a slew of classic titles. However, Tristessa ain't one of them.

I feel like a heel for saying that, but it's only true. Tristessa is 96 pages of Jack Duluoz (Kerouac) mooning over a broken-down morphine junkie/whore who couldn't give a sh*t less about him. Kerouac compares this woman, who's based on a real-life fling he had down in Mexico City, to everyone from Ava Gardner and Grac
...more
Jesse Osborne
While it was morphine-addled and convoluted, all of it was breathtakingly beautiful. The way Tristessa loves everything, cares about nothing, wants so badly to understand but at the same time is addicted to not knowing. The way Jack worships her, her name becomes a deity, Tristessa. He loved her, but in the age-old "could never be with her" way. It was heartbreaking, a reflection of the impermanence of living/loving, the inevitability of loss, but also the effortless beauty of the "live fast, di ...more
Erik Rust
This little gem about love, lust, and junk amongst the slums in Mexico City reads like a free form journal entry slash jazz poem which sees our favorite beatnik chasing and pining over his spunky, drugged out muse (Tristessa) admist the haze of their strange romance.

The shorter span of this novella tends to work in Kerouac's favor, foregoing pure ramble for a more restrained, yet still rampant chronicle of the cloudy ecstacy of his doomed love-jaunt to Mexico. It all adds up to something like s
...more
Francesca
Avendo già letto e apprezzato "Sulla Strada", ero preparata alla scrittura particolare e - diciamolo - a volte estenuante di Kerouac, fatta di totale anarchia di pause, periodi lunghissimi, una tecnica che ti mette una certa fretta e urgenza e che proprio per questo rende benissimo lo spirito del libro. Mi è piaciuto per questo, anche se più volte mi sono ritrovata a pensare "Ma questo Jack Kerouac ha mai respirato profondamente, una volta nella vita?". Ok. Ma "Tristessa" non assomiglia a "Sulla ...more
Harish Venkatesan
This is maybe a little more rambling/unstructured than usual for Kerouac (!), but overall, it's quintessential kerouacian stream-of-consciousness prose that's worth a read for when he finally hits his stride mid-book.

"since beginningless time and into the never-ending future, men have loved women without telling them, and the Lord has loved them without telling, and the void is not the void because there's nothing to be empty of."
Robin Friedman
Many readers who love Kerouac consider "Tristessa" one of his finest novels. "Tristessa" has become the book of Kerouac that I return to most often. The book was initially rejected for publication, and it first appeared in paperback in 1960 following the success of "On the Road". The book initially may have been conceived as part of "On the Road." "Tristessa" is written in Kerouac's "spontaneous prose" style, with long rhythmic improvisational sentences and the feel of jazz. It is short, but dec ...more
Brad Hodges


Truman Capote said of Jack Kerouac's work, "That's not writing, that's typing." Up to now I would have disagreed with him, as I found On the Road and The Dharma Bums to be engaging and at times thrilling well written, but as for Tristessa, a novella he wrote in 1960, well, it seems more like typing.

Ostensibly, it is about Kerouac's fascination with a prostitute and morphine addict in Mexico City. Her name is Esperanza (which means "hope"), but he dubs her Tristessa (which means "sorrow"). For 96
...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Aug 28, 2008 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my 15 year old self
My ratings for several books are based on how I felt about them when I read them. Several books that I loved/"really liked" I don't feel similarly about any longer, to put as simply and as fairly as possible. Kerouac is probably a perfect example of this. I loved reading about the melancholy psychological and geographical wanderings of Mr. Kerouac and his friends when I was 15 years old. It spoke to me in that way that people will describe books like On The Road and Catcher in the Rye as speak ...more
Ruth
A few weeks ago, I read On the Road by Kerouac. After reading an interview with him (published in the Paris Review), I discovered that On the Road was heavily edited. Kerouac disliked the editing (although I enjoyed the book and thought editor Malcolm Cowley did a good job), and after On the Road's publication, Kerouac told publishers he did not want any editing (other than correcting factual errors). So Tristessa is Kerouac's own words, stream of consciousness style. Although there are sentence ...more
Eleanor
If Kerouac weren’t dead, I would spit in his face for writing this piece-of-crap book. Top four problems: 1) Kerouac’s attempts at Spanish are grotesque. I don’t speak Spanish, and even I know he’s got half the words wrong. 2) His idiotic whiteboy quasi-Buddhist philosophy is sprinkled everywhere. 3) He doesn’t bother to explain until the last quarter of the book that one of the characters -- an older dopefiend named Bill, who’s also a brilliant writer -- isn’t actually Burroughs. I don’t know w ...more
Scott A. Nicholson
Tristessa was the last book in my casual jaunt through the mind of Kerouac and I'm glad it's over. Abundant errors plague the text, set to an at times confusing and senseless stream of consciousness, it's clear that this was one of Kerouac's more poetic works, which shows flaws in that he really wasn't much of a poet. Taking place in Mexico, Tristessa is the free-loving Mexican girl that got away or, rather, became a sexless junkie to Morphine before Kerouac could get it on with her. Kerouac, as ...more
Thom Gibney
I read 'Tristessa' as I travelled through Mexico City and walked the same lonely dark streets that Jack Kerouac had walked sixty years earlier and it was a beautifully sad experience to feel share the sanctification of women out of our grasp. 'Tristessa' is a lament to opportunities in love lost as Kerouac combines all his earthly knowledge of beauty from Buddhism to Hinduism and Catholicism to worship the infallible Tristessa as she makes her descent into her junk-doomed catatonic state of nonc ...more
Tatiana Rodrigues
Tristessa is one of those books I have to read at least more than once a year. Jack Kerouac carries the reader along with his thread of thoughts and emotions, and I keep falling in love over and over with the intimate, diary concistency of the narrative, to a point where one feels his love and sees the beauty he sees and the little details he was so in love with in Mexico.
I consider it a very exotic piece of Kerouac's work, and an introspective journey that brings along the reader and allows on
...more
Alan
I'm not sure what I read. Take out all of the belligerent splash of words and it could have been a 10 page decent story.
Timb
i never want to take morphine ever
Peck
The story has a power that just carries the reader along. I felt almost like the invisible companion of Kerouac shadowing him through the wet saturday night streets of Mexico city and into the lives of Tristessa and her companions. There are quite a few parts that I can't make any head or heel of but they for once - and it surprises me - they don't matter; they don't dampen anything that is beautiful about the stream of consciousness I was riding on.
Mel
Tristessa was breath-takingly gorgeous! I realised half way through he'd just been sitting in a junkie's room in Mexico City (with Burroughs) and it had been fascinating! It was so beautifully written, and touching and sad and everything that I love best about Kerouac.
Chris
Tristessa explores unattainable love and its tentacles of qualitative projection that both delight and paralyze the senses and sensibility. Kerouac's stream-of-consciousness prose paints brilliant, but grim images of the junky lifestyle, and the perils of pining for a person caught within the cycle of chemical romance. Kerouac also haphazardly weaves Buddhist concepts into Tristessa, with his execution leaving much to be desired. At times, the novella felt like a rambling mess. Overall, I'm torn ...more
Michael X
Kerouac's jumbled prose in this novel is totally lost on me. I got to page 30 and hardly understood what was going on. The book seems to be about a junky prostitute he's in love with, drinking and shooting up, and chickens, roosters and doves.
Nate Jordon
Jan 27, 2008 Nate Jordon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Nate by: An advertisement from GAP...
The first book I ever read of Kerouac's - I had no idea who he was at the time - and the first paragraph of this little book had such a profound impact on me, it changed the way I looked at writing immediately, and forever.
Brett
I imagine there are few that come to Tristessa as their first experience with Jack Kerouac, and that's probably good because I don't think I would recommend it to those that are not generally already Kerouac fans. But if you have often enjoyed Kerouac, then I can recommend this book as one of his less self-indulgent efforts. And with Tristessa clocking in right around 100 pages, that is almost exactly the right dosage of Kerouac for me to enjoy without becoming tired or wishing for more structur ...more
Sasha Zbarskaya
Пространство для меня Керуак в этой повести создал, я его, захлебывающегося и бездыханного, как мне кажется, слышу.
А большего и не ожидалось.
Fiona Shaughnessy
Tristessa can be read in one sitting and with Kerouac, that seems to be the way it should be done. This is only the second book I've read by him, and I don't know if I'm a fan exactly, but Jack Kerouac was a poet, first and foremost. This story is a bit dreary, but also has such brilliant swathes of color in its prose that one is compelled to follow after him down the streets of Mexico, as he falls in love with a morphine-addicted woman. To make the reader want to know about characters she would ...more
Patrick
Couldn't finish. It reminds me of the "intellectual" ramblings of a drunk... Or a drug addict - oh wait! That's what it is!
Timmy
Oh man, this book is on my top 5 stuck on an island list
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review of peoples reviews 2 17 May 18, 2012 03:06PM  
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  • The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs and Corso in Paris, 1957-1963
  • Memoirs of a Beatnik
  • Kerouac: A Biography
  • Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, And America
  • Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution
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  • Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir
  • Jack's Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac
  • The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation
1742
Born on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Jack Kerouac's writing career began in the 1940s, but didn't meet with commercial success until 1957, when On the Road was published. The book became an American classic that defined the Beat Generation. Kerouac died on October 21, 1969, from an abdominal hemorrhage, at age 47.
Early Life

Famed writer Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Keroua
...more
More about Jack Kerouac...

Other Books in the Series

Duluoz Legend (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings
  • Visions of Gerard
  • Dr. Sax
  • The Town and the City
  • Maggie Cassidy
  • Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46
  • On the Road
  • Visions of Cody
  • The Subterraneans
  • The Dharma Bums
On the Road The Dharma Bums Big Sur The Subterraneans Desolation Angels

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