Desolate Angel A Biography: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America by Dennis McNally is a 400-page hardcover published by Random House New York, 1979. The dust jacket has chips, tears and surface rubbing. The book is clean, with unmarked pages and straight binding.
From the drama of Jack Kerouac's own troubled life evolved a controversial new American anti-hero who came alive in On the Road, The Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans and a score of his other books. The prototype of the New Romantic and the New Consciousness, Kerouac prefigured the turned-on, dropped-out, ecstatic wandering hero of the 1960's. Nearly a half a century has passed since the first public furor over Kerouac and his friends, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and William Burroughs, but they are now recognized as the catalysts for an enormous postwar shift in American literature and culture.
Kerouac--"King of the Beats" and unwitting spokesman for one generation's underground--was a complex and compelling man: a man living by Blake's dictum "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom," a college-educated railroad brakeman in the era of the gray flannel suit, a rough-hewn, spontaneous writer vilified by the stringent New York critics but beloved to the point of excess by a clamoring public. Surely his life was frenzied, difficult, intense by any reckoning. Desolate Angel follows Kerouac from his childhood in the mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts, to his early years at Columbia, where the meeting of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Cassady began a three-way friendship that became in many ways a lifetime obsession. Their frenetic cross-country journeys, experiments with drugs and sexuality, travels to Mexico and Tangiers, years of failure followed by shallow literary hype are recounted with detail and sensitivity.
Dennis McNally spent over six years interviewing every major figure involved with Kerouac and the Beats, and his painstaking research has yielded an arresting portrait of a man and an artist set against an extraordinary cultural backdrop. The New York jazz scene of the forties, the "beatnik" era as chronicled by the Life and Look of the fifties, the San Francisco poetry renaissance of the sixties--all come luminously to life.ISBN: 0-394-50011-3