Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Curation #58 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac

Item #58 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback City Lights Books 1981 21st printing of Jack Kerouac's Book of Dreams (1961). It's 184 pages, approximately 5-1/2" x 8", and in fair condition. The provenance is uncertain. It's based on dream journals Jack kept between 1952-1960.

As the back cover explains:
This BOOK OF DREAMS is what JACK KEROUAC saw in his sleep, not day-dreams or day reveries. It's his private dream-record, all his nights strung together. It's the poetic raw material of the Kerouac saga, the substrata of his novels and a commentary upon them.

And as Jack himself explains in the FOREWORD:
The reader should know that this is just a collection of dreams that I scribbled after I woke up from my sleep--They were all written spontaneously, nonstop, just like dreams happen, sometimes written before I was even wide awake--

Book of Dreams includes a "Table of Characters" giving the character's names in Book of Dreams and their analogous names in On The Road, The Subterraneans, and The Dharma Bums.

I should note that this is the shorter version of Book of Dreams. In 2001 City Lights published an expanded version with an additional 200-some dreams compared to the initial 1961 edition. The link below is to the expanded (360 pages) edition. It includes a prologue by Robert Creeley -- reason alone to buy this edition. I don't even see the shorter edition available on Amazon, but it's available on eBay and AbeBooks and, I suspect, other sites.

This book is a wild Kerouac ride (cf. our next post on Old Angel Midnight). Indeed, it is one of my favorite Kerouac books. The scope and the spontaneity are magnificent. As such, I need to own a copy of -- and read -- the expanded edition. I also need to keep a dream journal for a time just to see what manifests.

I highly recommend this book to Kerouac fans. Otherwise, it may not be your cup of tea.

Below is a picture of Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (8th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Old Angel Midnight by Jack Kerouac.

Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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