Title: Vanity of Duluoz
Author: Jack Kerouac
Type: Fiction/Non-Fiction (Semi-Autobiographical)
Page Count/Review Word Count: 258
You’ve read On the Road, right? Vanity of Duluoz is like its little brother, the last novel that Kerouac released before he died in 1969, due to an internal hemorrhage caused by cirrhosis (from a lifetime of heavy, heavy drinking) along with complications caused by an untreated hernia and a bar fight that he’d been in. What a lad.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced to rhyme with ‘to lose’ – took me a while to figure that one out. Jack Duluoz is Kerouac’s alter ego, and he’s used as a vehicle to convey Kerouac’s high school experiences in Lowell, Massachussets, and his subsequent education and early life.
From Lowell, Kerouac heads to Columbia University, playing American Football along the way. In 1939, the Second World War breaks out, and in December 1941, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the United States of America joins the war.
This draws Duluoz to the U.S. Navy, where he serves on various vessels while discovering his passion for language. Oh, and there’s a murder, too – but I’m not going to give you any spoilers.
And, as a bonus, you’ll meet a whole host of the beatnik elite, hidden behind alter egos – William Burroughs is Will Hubbard, Lucian Carr is Claude de Maubris, and Allen Ginsberg is Irwin Garden. I didn’t realise that until after I’d finished reading it, but it didn’t really matter – as the title suggests, this is all about Kerouac.