Thursday, July 12, 2018

Curation #83 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America by Dennis McNally

Item #83 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 2003 Da Capo Press edition of Dennis McNally's Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America. I cannot discern a printing number from this: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10--06   05   04   03. Maybe you can. Let me know. This copy is 404 pages, measures about 6" x 9" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that it was a Christmas present from my son, Jason, and daughter-in-law, Adri.

McNally first published this Kerouac biography in 1979, making it one of the earliest in-depth Kerouac biographies (Ann Charters', to be curated soon, came out in 1973; Gerald Nicosia's, also to be curated in the future, came out in 1983). McNally is the author of a Grateful Dead biography, A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead.

This book met with a fairly positive review from the NY Times. They called it a "nostalgic manifesto," indicating that McNally was not only a biographer but an inheritor of the spirit of his subject. It's been years since I read it but my memory is that it was an engaging read and full of details.

As McNally says in the 2002 Afterword:
But our need to venture out, to look for the heart of the dream, to travel in Whitman's and Jack's and Neal Cassady's footsteps--that need is greater than ever. That is a faith worth cherishing, and that is why Jack, however desolate, was an angel. Twenty-three years after publishing Desolate Angel, I think this book still honors that faith.
The book concludes: "The myths and dreams and the art remain, to disturb or inspire. Above all else, the road endures."

The road endures. Amen.

Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (2nd from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Jack Kerouac: A Biography by Tom Clark.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The first Kerouac bio I read. I had just recently found JK and had read only two novels, Big Sur and The Subterraneans and was enthralled, so I jotted down all the addresses of places he lived and drove out to Lowell to explore. I remember realizing, even though I had not read any of the Lowell novels that I could feel how innately he and that mill town on the Merrimack were entwined, thus began a great love for that city. On that summer trip I saw a flyer posted for the October LCK festival and made my plans to attend, that began a long string of attendance for me.

Richard Marsh