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Tristessa (Duluoz Legend)

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,139 Ratings  ·  203 Reviews
Tristessa is the name with which Kerouac baptized Esperanza Villanueva, a Catholic Mexican young woman, a prostitute and addict to certain drugs, whom he fell in love with during one of his stays in Mexico -a country that he frequently visited - by the middle of the fifties. Wrapped in a spiritual atmosphere that expresses the yearnings of Kerouac to find himself, "Tristes ...more
Paperback, 142 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Mondadori (first published 1960)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 28, 2007 Baiocco rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
Aleksandar Šegrt
motiv zaljubljenosti u kurvu zavisnu od morfijuma mi je bio obećavajući, ali dosta tanko je ovo.
Robin Friedman
Jun 13, 2014 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
I myself can barely tolerate the writing of Kerouac. Too many run on sentences and drug addled thought processes. It's not that I absolutely hate it, but I think much of his popularity is based on name only without any regard to the finer details of his chaotic and exhausting prose. I feel as if I'm giving this a generous rating, based solely on the rare parts I actually happened to enjoy, while much of it was wasted effort to me. It was, and is, mainly an exercise of patience.
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.
Stuart Ayris
Oct 16, 2012 Stuart Ayris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 17, 2012 J.P. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 13, 2012 Mel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 08, 2016 Anca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kerouac fans
"but the bushes and the rocks weren't real and the beauty of things must be that they end."

I adore Jack Kerouac and the beat generation in general. Obviously, I fell in love, yet again, with one of his stories and writing style.

"born to die, beautiful to be ugly, quick to be dead, glad to be sad, mad to be had"

Before reading beat generation works, one must understand a couple of things about them. If you don't like reading about drugs, alcohol, sex and crazy existentialist ideas, then don't
Jesse Osborne
Apr 01, 2014 Jesse Osborne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 07, 2013 Erik Rust rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 18, 2016 Khonie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Just 96 pages. 96 pages usually just takes me an hour and a half to read, but this one took me days. This book was making my head spin. I need books with punctuation! Maybe Kerouac's head was spinning too (from all that morphine?) when he wrote this book.
Frances Margaret
Tristessa - the way it rolls down your tongue like a hiss, escaping like a slow death, is reminiscent of Kerouac's muse from Mexico. A long-time junky, dead eyes, dead love, dancing her way to ruins, untouchable.

One takes from this book the difficult but obvious truth, lessons greater than unrequited love. To fall in love with a junky is to step into a black hole. To live with a junky, one must become a junky. So all throughout this thing we have Jack tiptoeing around and against the void with h
Jan 02, 2013 Peck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Aug 26, 2011 Harish Venkatesan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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."
Christopher Newton
Jun 08, 2016 Christopher Newton added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kerouac fans, Beat Generation fans
I've been reading Jack since I was sixteen, and I've never broken the habit, although a year or two may go by between dips. He just eases my writer's mind. I feel that fresh rush of words and my own writer instincts start laughing at me again.

This time Tristessa, one of the road novels (this one is more of a novelette) he wrote before he got famous. He's in Mexico City, living with Old Bull Lee, a pseudonym Beat Generation readers will recognize. Neither are famous yet. Old Bull is still a morph
Nate Jordon
Jan 27, 2008 Nate Jordon rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Mar 06, 2015 Timb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i never want to take morphine ever
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
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Aug 28, 2008 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it liked it  ·  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
Oct 02, 2012 Ruth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2016 Eleanor rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
[I edited this review, because I originally wrote it 12 years, and I'm just not as excited about being angry on the internet anymore.]

I love On the Road and Subterranians, but Tristessa really rubbed me the wrong way. Probably most of my bad reaction was that I found the narrator really unlikable, and actually quite a lot like the boys I used to hang out with in my 20s. With his terrible Spanish, and his half-baked quasi-Buddhist philosophy, and his ridiculous double standard about Tristessa's d
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
Aug 05, 2015 Tamisha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Incoherent and meaningless, the only good parts were when he described Mexican street food.
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
Mar 08, 2015 Alan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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review of peoples reviews 2 17 May 18, 2012 03:06PM  
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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 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

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“The beauty of things must be that they end.” 133 likes
“I'll go to the south of Sicily in the winter, and paint memories of Arles – I'll buy a piano and Mozart me that – I'll write long sad tales about people in the legend of my life – This part is my part of the movie, let's hear yours” 28 likes
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