Title: Departed Angels: The Lost Paintings
Author: Jack Kerouac
Page Count/Review Word Count: 285
By now, you’re probably aware that I’m a Kerouac fan – I’m big on the Beat scene, and Kerouac is probably the most widely-read and iconic author to emerge from it. Departed Angels shows a different side of Jack’s multi-faceted personality – it shows his deeply artistic side.
Jack was friends with a crazy bunch of celebrated writers and artists, many of which were immortalised under pseudonyms in his novels. William Burroughs, another writer friend, also created works of art – he placed cans of paint in front of canvasses and blasted them with shotgun shells. As you do.
Unfortunately, Kerouac’s artwork just isn’t that good – sure, he’s better than me, but he’ll never rank up there amongst the greats. Many of his drawings look like a child’s first exploratory scribbles, and even the best of them look a little untidy. Of course, he adopted the same stream of consciousness approach for his artwork as he did for his writing, so you can’t judge him too harshly.
It’s just strange how Ed Adler, the book’s compiler and former brother-in-law to Kerouac, seems to think that Jack possesses some great artistic talent to rival Picasso and Matisse. That’s just simply not true.
Finally, let me explain the layout – the first half of the book is given over to Kerouac’s drawings and paintings, and you can read through it in an hour or so, give or take ten minutes. The second half consists of a long, dry essay by Adler which looks at each of the drawings in turn. Do yourself a favour – skip it.