Jack Kerouac

Tristessa (Annotated)

An underground classic.
Tristessa is a portrait of a young prostitute destroying herself in the squalid drug underworld of Mexico City. Here, in the characteristic voice of Kerouac at the height of his dazzling descriptive powers, emerge the major themes of his eclectic religious romanticism. One of the final works in Kerouac’s 13-book Proustian memoir and a quintessential classic in the Kerouac Canon.
“Kerouac is a writer of exquisitely sad love stories, with complex and fully realized women: In Tristessa we find to our surprise that Kerouac was one of the most romantic of American novelists.” — Eric D. Lehman, Empty Mirror
“Each book by Jack Kerouac in unique, a telepathic diamond … Such rich natural writing is nonpareil in later half xx-century, a synthesis of Proust,  Céline, Thomas Wolfe, Hemingway, Genet, Thelonious Monk, Basho, Charlie Parker, and Kerouac’s own athletic sacred insight.” — Allen Ginsberg
About the author
Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922, the youngest of three children in a Franco-American family. He attended local Catholic and public schools and won a football scholarship to Columbia University in New York City, where he first met Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. He quit school in his sophomore year after a dispute with his football coach. In 1947, enthused by bebop, the rebel attitude of his friends and the throng of hobos, drug addicts and hustlers he encountered in New York, he decided to discover America and hitchhike across the country. His writing was openly autobiographical and he developed a style he referred to as ‘spontaneous prose’ which he used to record the experiences. His first novel, The Town and the City, appeared in 1950, but it was On the Road, first published in 1957 and memorializing his adventures with Neal Cassady, that epitomized to the world what became known as the Beat Generation, and made Kerouac one of the most controversial and best-known writers of his time. Publication of his many other books followed, among them The Dharma BumsThe Subterraneans, and Big Sur. He died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969, at the age of forty-seven.
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    But Tristessa keeps looking at me and I keep staring at her, suddenly we love each other as Bull drones on and I admire her openly and she shines openly—Earlier, I’d grabbed her, when she said “You remember everything the other night?”—“Yes”—“in the street, how you kiss me”—
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    But then Bull explains: “She dont want love—You put Grace Kelly in this chair, Muckymuck’s morphine on that chair, Jack, I take the morphine, I no take the Grace Kelly.”

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