Desolation Angels
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Desolation Angels (Duluoz Legend)

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  7,100 ratings  ·  208 reviews
Desolation Angels, published in 1965, yet written years earlier around the time On the Road was in the process of publication, is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac, which makes up part of his Duluoz Legend. According to the book's foreword, the opening section of the novel is almost directly taken from the journal he kept when he...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 1st 1969 by London Mayflower Books (first published 1958)
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This book is the best reason I can think of for anyone ever learning to read. I've spent most of it with my mouth - metaphorically - hanging open, and my heart perpetually glowing and breaking along with Kerouac's various and numerous highs and lows. Can you be in love with someone who died years before you were even a twinkle in the eye of the universe? I think so.

This is not On the Road, and On the Road is nothing by comparison. That is, if there can be any other piece of writing that could e...more
Of the many Beat writers, Burroughs and Kerouac are the two who I’ve read the most and who’s writing has had the most impact on me. Of the two, I like Burroughs’ writing more but find I identify more with Kerouac’s.

The first Kerouac book I read was On The Road . I was in college and I was in Spokane in the early morning waiting for a bus to take me home to Cheney. I read the entire book waiting for that bus, which tells you I was way into it and that the busses In Spokane were few and far betwee...more
Desolation Angels starts where Kerouac left us at the end of The Dharma Bums. On Desolation Peak. Although the two books kind of flow into each other you will notice that Kerouac has changed. After the thrilling and fervid On The Road he became more quiet and meditative. He still has that excitement for life and experience and that somehow never ending urge to be on the road and hang out with his old Beat buddies but eventually he can't identify with the spirit of the so called Beat Generation a...more
GK Stritch
Jack-EEE Duluoz climbs the mountain, and comes down (p. 113):

"I go all the way down to First Avenue . . . I realize it's Friday Night all over America, in New York it's just ten o'clock and the fight's started in the Garden and longshoremen in North River bars are all watching the fight and drinking 20 beers apiece, and Sams are sitting in the front row . . . while I spent all summer pacing and praying in mountaintops, of rock and snow, of lost birds and bears, these people've been sucking on ci...more
Andy Miller
While I truly loved On the Road, I was pleasantly surprised when I read Dharma Bums and found it to be an even better book. However, I found Desolation Angels somewhat of a disappointment

The book starts with his time as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the North Cascade, I've learned that this section of the book was mainly taken from the journals he wrote at the time--much of it deals with his musings on Buddhism and his life-and I found that part to be somewhat flat.More interesting was hi...more
Dava B
My favourite Kerouac book so far. If there is a continuum of idealism, which starts from 'On the Road' and on through 'The Dharma Bums', it is at this book (which follows on from 'The Dharma Bums') that the cracks are really beginning to appear in Jack Kerouac's experience.

Yet to put it so simply feels like a crude summing up of what Jack Kerouac was really about. His ability to capture the highs, the lows, the humor and the horror of life is nothing short of inspiring. And who am I, really, to...more
Boy, I really enjoyed this book, even if not a great work of art. For me reading later Kerouac is like a great conversation with a really thoughtful and interesting, if somewhat mixed-up friend. I bought this for .50 at the Friends of Library Booksale, lost it for about two months, and spent many pleasurable hours on my front porch reading the almost 400 pages this spring, summer and fall. I'm feeling kind of melancholy that I'm finished and don't have Jack to visit with anymore. Goodbye Jack. M...more
Sarah Crawford
I, like many others, found Desolation Angels after reading On The Road.
If you're expecting this to be an off-shoot of On The Road, you'd be wrong.
This book is a journey into the mind of Kerouac. Some call him genius, some madman, but I don't think you can truly define him in any one catagory.
This book is no easy task. It takes a lot of thinking and a lot of patience to get through, but it's well worth the effort in the end.
Kate Buck
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alan Scott

ON THE ROAD...with Mom

This book may come as a real shock to those whom have a preconcieved notion about what the "Beats" were all about, and it may also be a shock for those more familiar with the jubilant ecstatic life affirmations of On The Road or even The Dharma Bums.

In this book Jack goes on the road (with Mom), has sex with a fourteen year old mexican prostitute, meets up with a Neal (Cody) whom is a far fly from his On the Road days and is tied down with a wife + three kids and a job,...more
Apr 07, 2010 Ruth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people under forty years old.
I have read this book a couple of times before. I started it seeking location of Olivia's quote. I still have not found that quote, but kept reading the book.

I have read many of Keouac's books. He was, at one time right up with Ernest Hemingway in my major arcana. But, Jack K., became too depressing for me. The sadness and depression became unbearable. I just could not handle all that misery on top of his personal story. His life was just as miserable and hopeless and the loops of despair that a...more
Certainly not the excitable, lust-for-life Kerouac of On The Road and his earlier days, but still a very recognizably Kerouacian stream of thought. Originally a double novel, the first section is based on his time spent on fire watch upon Desolation Peak and the metaphysical rambles that run through the mind during 60+ days of isolation and solitude. The following section is then Jack's stories of returning to the world and his friends after his brush with the Void. In this section, in this end-...more
Katie Chico
Probably one of the more intention looks into Jack's mind. A must read for any Kerouac enthusiast, just don't keep the gun loaded.
This book rocks the fucking cock.
Anna Weeks
Somehow I've lucked out and read Kerouac's books at the right time in my life. On the Road was perfect for college, Desolation Angels was perfect for now. Kerouac is more mature and is seeing the world in a different way, full of people trying to complete themselves and full of people suffering. He tries to stay above it but gets sucked back in, and he recognized that. It took me a bit to get into it but then I flew through the rest. Interesting and thought provoking for it's perspective on life...more
A fascinating book; the same basic setup as On the Road or Dharma Bums but much more mature. Kerouac starts alone meditating on a mountain, then comes down and travels the world with his mad poet friends (Ginsberg is there, and Corso, Burroughs and others, all thinly disguised), but when he comes down into the world there is this detached brooding, a hesitant eye cast on all this hectic partying and sudden fame and impending trendiness. It's an introspective tone that plumbs the death of despair...more
It is truly a novel about desolation. First, actually physical solitude, months of it on a cold mountain with nothing but lush nature and his own thoughts for company. Then it is a desolation of the world, where Kerouac tries to find pleasure and meaning in a series of shallow exchanges, until, finally, it is a desolation of the spirit and he becomes a true desolation angel shrinking into the distance.

Kerouac's belief system transforms with his burgeoning sense of ennui and despair of the world...more
If you’re looking for something similar to On The Road or The Dharma Bums from Kerouac, I would advise you not to read this book. It is much more moody and inside Kerouac’s mind. Perhaps it’s Kerouac’s Naked Lunch, in a way. In Desolation Angels, Kerouac survives two months on a mountaing, listens to jazz with friends, smokes a lot of opium (even tries peyote), travels with his mom, and seems to sink deeper into alcoholism, which eventually ruined him.

It takes a lot of effort to read this book....more
As Nelson Algren indicated, Desolation Angels is an exploration of the religious aspect of the Beat movement. I would take this further by saying that it explores the "dark" or more existential side of Beat spirituality. This is not the optimistic Hippie Zen of Dharma Bums. Kerouac wrestles with the meaning of his role as the "father" of the Beat Generation, his aimless wandering through the world, his drug and alcohol abuse, and his relationships with friends, lovers, and family. He is a sharp...more
Harish Venkatesan
I find this to be Kerouac's most complete work. It ranges the whole gamut of human emotion, from complete ecstasy at living the beat life, to utter despair when contemplating the horror and ultimate meaningless of worldly existence or maya... while all of Kerouac's work is honest, I get a sense that he was really trying to explain himself in this book, in what he called a quiet period between the splendor of the carefree On the Road and Dharma Bums days, to the later imprisonment-like fame that...more
This book makes a great sequel to the dharma bums, even though it was actually written first. It starts with Kerouac's incredible isolation at the top of the Mountain and slowly sees him re-emerging into his crazy life, but never being able to get over the feeling of isolation and depression that he felt on the mountain top. My favorite part of this was when he was slowly returning to the world. I think this was partly because I was familiar with the places he was visiting. It was amusing to hea...more
Allan MacDonell
The thing to admire about Jack Kerouac is that he was smart enough to disguise the fact that he was an idiot, in his books at least, and he didn’t do that. This is not to deny that his writings are streaked through with layers of pretentious dispensations lathered upon his fictional self and his thinly disguised friends and literary contemporaries. Starting with its title, Desolation Angels is veined with bold assertions of eternal sacred significance for Kerouac’s book-famous crew of basic fuck...more
Tom O’Connell
*Three and a half, where possible.

I read 'On The Road', 'Dharma Bums', 'The Sub[par]teraneans' and 'Big Sur' in my late teen years, and don't quite know how or why 'Desolations Angels' eluded me for so long. It's definitely compulsory reading for anyone who, like me, has invested this much time in Kerouac's journey.

I usually lap up Kerouac's style but here I found things needlessly excessive, and really had to plough through some sections on sheer determination. I'm not sure if the problem is th...more
Robert Mitchell
Desolation Angels is heaven and hell and the world and America and the Void and his Mom. Kerouac/Duluoz is a despicable, noble, earnest, loving, whiny, brilliant, loyal, weak, irreplaceable, insane jazz poet. As a preamble, listen to Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row and realize how he creates surprisingly linear beauty tangentially, and then crank up the random-o-meter one hundred times for Kerouac. One thousand preliminarily random images turn into a masterful Pointillist painting in prose. Bebop imp...more
Nick H
Ah, Jack. You always have a way with words. Don't come to Desolation Angels looking for the same zest for life that Jack gives us in On the least not past the first 100 pages. These are the thoughts, opinions, experiences, and conflicts (mostly internal) going on in an older man. Filled with spiritual confusion and doubt as to our purpose on this planet, he talks a lot about the condition of man based off of the things he sees and documents here. A lot of the great characters of the "B...more
Desolation Angels contains everything that you've come to expect from Kerouac, from the stream-of-consciousness jazz-like rhythm of his beatnik writing to the way that he chronicles the lives of himself and his friends in 1950s America.

The book begins with a pensive Kerouac atop a mountain, Jack's record of a long, lonely summer spent fire-watching. After this period of desolation, he returns to the bright lights of the big cities to meet up with his friends, many of whom were high-profile liter...more
I had some concerns when I started this book. Concerns such as, "Am I too old for Kerouac? Is all this poet-hipster adventuring sort of pretentious?" So I was surprised by the deep current of melancholy that runs through the book. Jack Duluoz (Kerouac's alter-ego) certainly has his share of adventures in the poet-artist scene, but there's also a real sense of the madness and precariousness of the scene.

The story starts of with Duluoz' time spent as a fire lookout in the Skagit Valley national pa...more
Desolationin enkelit (1965) on yksi Kerouackin pääteoksista, aikaisemmin julkaistujen Matkalla ja Dharmapummit-teosten lisäksi. Kuten kirjan takakannessa sanotaan, teosta pidetään Kerouackin "uskonnollisimpana" teoksena. Neljään osaan jaettu kirja sijoittuu vuodelle 1957, Matkalla-romaanin julkaisuaikoihin. 1950-luvun lopulla alkoi kulttuurivallankumous, jonka tienraivaajina mm. Kerouack, Ginsberg ja Burroughs toimivat.

Itse pidin kirjasta kovin. Kirja alkaa Kerouackin alter egon Jack Dulouz:n k...more
Desolation Angels is a wide-ranging book, most obviously in the territory it covers, from far Northern Washington to Mexico City to Tangiers with many stops in between. But Kerouac also moves through different feelings about how he has come to see life at his old age of 34. Desolation is certainly running throughout; Kerouac struggles in this book with the question of what meaning or purpose can be found in a world that must end by people who must die. He is by and large depressed and lethargic...more
Essentially two books.The first book takes up 70% of the total and gets more than tedious.The narrative details the authors movements and thoughts as he reintegrates into society after a couple of months on his own.Its basically an expanded diary and unless you're having a Buddhism related religious crisis has little to offer.I found the characters where not well defined enough when first introduced,which caused some confusion,also much of the "action"is superfluous and lacked any meaning for m...more
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  • Go
  • Jack Kerouac: Angel-Headed Hipster
  • The First Third
  • Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg
  • Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac
  • The Fall of America
  • Kerouac: A Biography
  • The Yage Letters
  • Jack's Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac
  • Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution
  • Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats
  • Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir
  • Demon Box
Jack Kerouac was an American novelist, writer, poet, and artist. He is perhaps the best known of a group of writers and friends who came to be known as the Beat Generation, a term he himself created.

Kerouac's work was popular, but received little critical acclaim during his lifetime. Today, he is considered an important and influential writer who inspired others, including Tom Robbins, Lester Bang...more
More about Jack Kerouac...
On the Road The Dharma Bums Big Sur The Subterraneans On the Road: The Original Scroll

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“I'm right there, swimming the river of hardships but I know how to swim...” 55 likes
“So shut up, live, travel, adventure, bless and don't be sorry” 33 likes
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