Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels

This week I re-read Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels, because it's, in part, about his time as a fire lookout (see also the great book The Dharma Bums) and now that I'm a fire lookout, I wanted to re-see his experience.

Desolation Angels is a beautiful mess. With a little editing, it might've been a great book, and the key to enjoying it is to skip whole chapters, though you have to have read it once to know which ones to skip. Hint: the one on his baseball card game, the two on the trip to the racetracks, and the one in Mexico where he has sex with a young prostitute.

That said, the first section is amazing, in his full Buddhist prime. The second section is ok, as a good contrast to being up on a mountain. The second half of the book then devolves, though there are moments of glory, and we see glimpses of his writing process, and his thoughts on writing and art.

Worth the read. Again. This is my third time.

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