Saturday, May 19, 2018

Curation #44 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Tristessa by Jack Kerouac

Item #44 in my Kerouac bookshelf creation project is this Penguin Books copy of Jack Kerouac's Tristessa. It's in very good condition, provenance unknown (probably an Amazon purchase), with a publishing date of 1992 and showing a 14th printing. This edition is 96 pages long and measures 5" x 7-11/16".

Tristessa was originally published in 1960, covering time in 1955-56 that Jack spent in Mexico city and focusing on his relationship with a prostitute named Esperanza (renamed as the title character as Jack was wont to do). If you're reading this blog post, it is unlikely that you need instruction on where Tristessa fits in the Kerouac canon, but we can at least report what Allen Ginsberg said about it in 1991 (from the back cover):
This entire short novel Tristessa's a narrative meditation studying a hen, a rooster, a dove, a cat, a chihuahua dog, family meat, and a ravishing, ravished junky lady, first in their crowded bedroom, then out to drunken streets, taco stands, & pads at dawn in Mexico city slums.
There's some beautiful descriptive prose here, juxtaposed with some dreary slice-of-life conditions. If you haven't yet read Tristessa, please do. I'm heading out today to spend some time with my Kerouacian brother, Richard, and perhaps we'll take turns reading Tristessa aloud.

Below is a picture of Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (25th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Dr. Sax by Jack Kerouac.

Shelf #1 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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