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Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46

(Duluoz Legend)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,458 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Originally subtitled "An Adventurous Education, 1935-1946," Vanity of Duluoz is a key volume in Jack Kerouac's lifework, the series of autobiographical novels he referred to as The Legend of Duluoz. With the same tender humor and intoxicating wordplay he brought to his masterpieces On the Road and The Dharma Bums, Kerouac takes his alter ego from the football fields of sma ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published 1994 by Penguin Books (first published 1967)
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,458 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Dec 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
A- My first Kerouac

My cousin was hitchhiking across the country. "He read Jack Kerouac's On the Road and now he is not wearing a coat but a blanket and thumbing," my aunt told my parents worriedly.

"Can I go to the library?" I asked.

"Why?" my mom responded.

"I want to get a book by Jack Keriowac."

"No, I am not taking you for that!"

I rode my bike, found out how to spell Kerouac, and On the Road was not in--that's one of the most stolen books from libraries and bookstores. Instead, V of D was in. I
Trevor Jones
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An old man writes of his younger days...

Surprisingly to most people, this is my favorite Kerouac volume. I've probably read it at least four or five times now; I'm now deliberately spacing my readings out to where I can forget parts and revisit the ways it's made me felt.

The big difference here with Vanity is that Kerouac's explosive writing from the late '40s onward was now at something of an impasse: by the mid-'60s, he had told most of his life story and was running out material. The arch of
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't give Jack (Kerouac) less than 5 stars (even though I find myself being very confused while reading his works, for his -sometimes - too vague and abstract language - 'too' for me), simply because ever since I read 'On the Road', I've noticed that he somehow makes me see the beauty of the world, be aware of it, view it similarly as Jack's protagonists do. This doesn't mean 'copying' them, it means just being influenced and inspired by the words Kerouac said and wanted the world to know, if ...more
Jul 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: (felt like 2.5 *)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading On the Road last month I decided I needed to read everything that Kerouac wrote. This was the next thing I was able to find by him. It was listed as the book about "football, war and murder" and while I'm no big fan of football I figured what the hell and decided to read it anyway. It was written 15 years after On the Road and covers most of Kerouac's life up to that point. He's definitely an older and more bitter writer but he still writes very well and I found I did enjoy it a gr ...more
Distress Strauss
Jul 24, 2007 rated it liked it
Having written up Exley's Fan's Notes, I thought I'd add another book I'd consider more heroic than successful. I believe this was the last novel Kerouac published during his lifetime, and he had drunk much of his talent away, as well as turned his back on the counterculture that he did much to inspire. Yet his entire sense of self is based in the fact that he's a writer, so he pushes on, delving into archives and memory, dredging up his years at Columbia and the Lucien Carr/David Kammerer stabb ...more
Patrick Santana
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Kerouac, the man, comes through with shining clarity in this final work. His voice so direct and sharp, it's like he's in the room with me, talking to me. I could imagine him half-drunk, composing these short rough chapters of memory. For fans of Kerouac, the angry, blunt, frank stories and observations in Vanity of Duluoz tumble forth like gifts from a lost world. Despite all his bitterness (and some rather silly football passages), the book rings with truths about our condition as people. It l ...more
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beat-generation
This book picks up significantly after getting through the play-by-play football game breakdowns. Kerouac's time on different navy ships during WWII is very interesting, and of course the introduction of the other Beats into his world. Quite a charming book.
Jason Hillenburg
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
A painful, bitter account of Kerouac's early years in New York City. Unlike some of Kerouac's work where things don't quite snap into place unless you know the principles behind his gallery of fictional stand-ins, Vanity of Duluoz overcomes that deficiency through the sheer power of Kerouac's garrelous, weary voice. Written near the end of his life as he slipped into the final stages of alcoholism, the book is better than it has any right to be.
Mar 08, 2009 rated it liked it
This was pretty good. Tells of Jack's footballing years, how it wasn't in the cards, and what he did shortly after giving up his footballing dreams. Good for some pretty beat lines interspersed.
Oct 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the bitter old Jack, gone all nostalgic. My personal favorite. "Go droppeth a turd," indeed.
Feb 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Boring and uninspired. Not the Kerouac I know or love.
David Rullo
Aug 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
There are two classifications for Jack Kerouac's novels, journals, poetry, etc.--the very good and the very bad. Generally speaking, most of the early novels are masterpieces. These include On The Road, The Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans, and Desolation Angels. The bad are those later works written in the full grips of alcoholism when Kerouac was convinced of his own genius and no longer interested in having his work edited. He was no longer interested in critical analysis of his manuscripts. So ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Honest, raw, truthful. This book is Jack not trying to be clever like Dr Sax. Not trying to be a classic like On The Road. Not trying to be anything really other than what it is - a book about Jack's young life with all the quirkiness of his prose (without the 'dashes').

Although a lot of the story covers the same plot from The Town and the City, it's still interesting to find out what parts are true... The football part I found a little tedious considering I have no interest in American footbal
Duncan McCurdie
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Kerouac's greatest hits, but written from a more mature and nostalgic viewpoint. It actually reads as a pretty straight autobiography albeit with the usual Kerouac exaggeration and name changes. Less annoying than most Kerouac but maybe less interesting...
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Written from the perspective of an aging, jaded Kerouac, this retelling of pivotal years in his life does not have much of the poetic beauty of Visions of Gerard or Maggie Cassidy. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful, engaging work, perhaps my favorite in the Duluoz Legend.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I would argue it's better to read the whole of the Town & the City, but if you're not up it this is a worthwhile shorter version.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
one of his best
Bradley Mullins
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
O Jack!
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-gothic
It described a certain life in a certain time quite well. I enjoyed it.
Mowey Godoyzki
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Everybody who comes from New Orleans in that group is marked with tragedy."

i remember the fever of youth in Jack Kerouac. i remember the carelessness of college days. the hormones acting up and us saying, hey we're so much better than that. i remember breaking out of the box and letting the inner kid in us rule. our endless wanderings. our proclivities to art. our love for reading books. i remember shouting at the top of my lungs when me and my friends get drunk. or eating chocolate sundae fud
Jesse Toldness
May 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Kerouac was a lot of things, but he was not, in the end, an author of fiction. A career autobiographer, the skill in his writing was not in creating what he told (in truth, he created very little of it, except insofar as we all edit and create a little bit when we remember) but in how he told it. And this, his last work, is more blatantly autobiographical than most, even the thin veneer of fiction most of his books maintain by changing the names of the people he knew has started to show holes an ...more
Dane Cobain
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You've read On the Road, right? Vanity of Duluoz is like its little brother, the last novel that Kerouac released before he died in 1969, due to an internal hemorrhage caused by cirrhosis (from a lifetime of heavy, heavy drinking) along with complications caused by an untreated hernia and a bar fight that he'd been in. What a lad.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, it's pronounced to rhyme with 'to lose' - took me a while to figure that one out. Jack Duluoz is Kerouac's alter ego, and he's used as
GK Stritch
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Football, war, and murder . . . the vanities of a young man coming of age, and the young man is young Duluoz of Lowell.

"But my hands werent sea-netted and chapped by rope and wire . . . at present time I was a scullion. I'd vaguely hear of Shakespeare yelling about that, he who washes pots and scours out giant pans, with greasy apron, hair handing in face like idiot, face splashed by dishwater . . . Oh the pots and pans the racket of their fear, the kitchen of the sea, the Neptunes down here, t
Feb 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: beat
Although written when Kerouac was well into alcohol, I found this book an intersting read, especially since, while reading this at night before bed each night, I was reading by day the Town and The City, which more or less deals with the same time period. The energy of youth found in Kerouac's earlier works isn't evident hear, but taking it's place is an older and maybe wiser Kerouac, you get the sense that he knows what he likes and is set in his ways. I loved his many little chapters and his r ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: duluoz-legend
This was, so far, my favorite book in the Duluoz Legend. I did have a very difficult time accessing a copy of it though as book stores in my area do not carry it. I managed to find a well-read and somewhat mangled copy at a local bookstore which, in a way, suited the situation. From his opening scene describing an automobile until the very end where he describes the death of his father I felt like I truly was on the bridge to reading "On The Road" yet another time. Sad that this was his last boo ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
First Kerouac book I read, I didnt know much about him. Just recognized his name and heard others raving about On The Road before. As Im travelling around myself I thought this may be a good read. I have no idea how it compares to On the Road, but I didnt find it too interesting. As the title kind of gives away, this is just a guy constantly bragging about his amazing life, his football skills, the friends he met, the books he read, the girls he laid (what a sexist prick by the way), the intelle ...more
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've had this book on my bookshelf for a long time now, and just completed reading it. Kerouac is from my hometown of Lowell, MA, and his childhood house is right in my old neighborhood. I loved reading his accounts of his life back in Lowell--and what ultimately was the sequence of events that eventually led him to become a writer. Perhaps my favorite part of the book was the very end, even more particularly, this quote:

"But, wifey, I did it all, I wrote the book, I stalked the streets of life
Jan 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kerouac
I really enjoyed Kerouac's almost off-the-cuff attitude on his own life in this book. He devotes a large part of the story to his upbringing in Lowell and time at Columbia, with another fair portion devoted to the Merchant Marines and his wanderings around the Northeast in an attempt to find something to settle into. You can tell that he was never quite satisfied with anything but writing, but at the same time he seemed determined to try (maybe the blue-collar Lowell upbringing).

If you're a fan
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
I bought this because I wanted to see how Kerouac wrote about Kammerer's death later on in his career. I'm not a huge fan of Kerouac to begin with,so the material leading up to the Lucian Carr/Kammerer material wasn't all that interesting to me. The snazzy bebop writing that crackles with life in the early work just lies flat on the page, here. If you're interested in the Carr material, read ...And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks, instead. The constant fuck-up cycle of the Duluoz character ...more
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Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac 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.

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
  • On the Road
  • Visions of Cody
  • The Subterraneans
  • Tristessa
  • The Dharma Bums
“I realised either I was crazy or the world was crazy; and I picked on the world.

And of course I was right.”
“If you dont [sic] say what you want, what's the sense of writing?” 10 likes
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