Jack Kerouac-"King of the Beats," unwitting catalyst for the '60s counterculture, groundbreaking author-was a complex and compelling man: a star athlete with a literary bent; a spontaneous writer vilified by the New Critics but adored by a large, youthful readership; a devout Catholic but aspiring Buddhist; a lover of freedom plagued by crippling alcoholism. Desolate Angel follows Kerouac from his childhood in the mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts, to his early years at Columbia where he met Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Neal Cassady, beginning a four-way friendship that became a lifelong obsession. Kerouac's frenetic cross-country journeys, experiments with drugs and sexuality, travels to Mexico and Tangier, and years of failure, frustration, and depression are recounted with detail and sensitivity. Desolate Angel is a harrowing, compassionate portrait of a man and artist set against an extraordinary social backdrop.
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