Item #55 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this McGraw-Hill 1976 (not sure of the printing number - it says 123456789MUMU79876) copy of Jack Kerouac's Visions of Gerard. This 150-page, approximately 5" x 8" book is in okay shape (some middle pages have broken free from the binding) and the provenance is unknown. This is the edition with the beautiful hand-drawn illustrations by James Spanfeller.
Visions of Gerard holds a special place in the Kerouac canon. Written in 1956 and first published in 1963, it is a beautiful paean to Jack's brother, Gerard, whose death at age 9 had a lifelong, profound impact on Kerouac. VOG explores the meaning of existence through Kerouac's unique prose memories of Gerard's brief life and death in 1926 of rheumatic fever in Jack's milltown home of Lowell, Massachusetts.
Vivid Lowell memories feature prominently in VOG, and Jack's Catholicism plays a heavy role throughout. While Jack provides no certain answers about the mysteries of life, he concludes:
Sometime in the sameIn other words, it'll all be okay in the end.
night that's everywhere
the same right now
VOG is classic Kerouac and worthy of reading aloud all the way through, which my great friend, Richard, and I have done in our turn-taking fashion. If you are going to own five Kerouac books out of the many that exist, this has to be one of them. That's how good it is.
Below is a picture of Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (5th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: a second copy of Visions of Gerard by Jack Kerouac.
Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf