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Desolation Angels

By Jack Kerouac

Made available by Simran Singh in Madrid

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A young man searches for meaning, creates art, and grapples with fame as he traverses the stomping grounds of the Beat Generation—from Mexico City to Manhattan—in Jack Kerouac’s semi-autobiographical novel This urgently paced yet deeply introspective novel closely tracks On the Road author Jack Kerouac’s own life. Jack Duluoz journeys from the Cascade Mountains to San Francisco, Mexico City, New York, and Tangier. While working as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the Cascades, Duluoz contemplates his inner void and the distressing isolation brought on by his youthful sense of adventure. In Tangier he suffers a similar feeling of desperation during an opium overdose, and in Mexico City he meets up with a morphine-addicted philosopher and seeks an antidote to his solitude in a whorehouse. As in Kerouac’s other novels, Desolation Angels features a lively cast of pseudonymous versions of his fellow Beat poets, including William S. Burroughs (as Bull Hubbard), Neal Cassady (as Cody Pomeray), and Allen Ginsberg (as Irwin Garden). Duluoz draws readers into the trials and tribulations of these literary iconoclasts—from drug-fueled writing frenzies and alcoholic self-realizations to frenetic international road trips and tumultuous love affairs. Achieving literary success comes with its own consequences though, as Duluoz and his friends must face the scrutiny that comes with rising to the national stage.

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