cover image DEPARTED ANGELS: Jack Kerouac: The Lost Paintings

DEPARTED ANGELS: Jack Kerouac: The Lost Paintings

Jack Kerouac, . . Thunder's Mouth, $26.95 (285pp) ISBN 978-1-56025-621-2

By starting right in with reproductions of the paintings and sketches that Kerouac began making in the late 1950s, a few years after the publication of On the Road , this book comes closer to his animus than the reams of posthumous text produced on him and the Beats generally. Heavily influenced by de Kooning and other New York School painters, the works themselves, long stored with family in Massachusetts and recently unearthed, are bright and spirited, if not transcendent. But viewed as a kind of record of Kerouac's continued, in-the-moment search for an ultimate form of expression, these depictions—of friends, popes, angels, street people, coffee cups, the Buddha—are quite moving. In this Kerouac estate–authorized production, New York University painter and scholar Adler presents 50 paintings in color and 50 sketchbook pages in b&w, thoughtfully laid out and captioned. Historian Douglas Brinkley offers an introduction, and Adler's 17 chapters of text, which make up the book's second half, detail Kerouac's method of and thoughts about artmaking; the interviews and research Adler has conducted pay off in descriptive thickness. The result is a book unique within the Kerouac industry, a real achievement indeed. (Jan.)