Excerpt: Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac

Oh! The horrible voyages I’ve had to take across the country and back with gloomy railroads and stations you never dreamed of—one of em a horrible pest of bats and crap holes and incomprehensible parks and rains, I can’t see the end of it on all horizons, this is the book of dreams.

Jesus life is dreary, how can a man live let alone work-—sleeps and dreams himself to the other side—and that’s where your Wolf is ten times worse than preetypop knows—and how, look, I stopped— how can a man lie and say shit when he has gold in his mouth. Cincinnati, Philarkadelphia, Frohio, stations in the Flue—rain town, graw flub, Beelzabur
and Hemptown I’ve been to all of them and read Finnegain’s Works what will it do me good if I dont stop and righten the round wrong in my poor bedighted b—what word is it?—skull…

Talk, talk, talk—

I went and saw Cody and Evelyn, it all began in Mexico, on Bull’s ratty old couch I purely dreamed that I was riding a white horse down a side street in that North town like in Maine but really off Highway Maine with the rainy night porches in the up and down America, you’ve all seen it you ignorant pricks that cant understand what you’re reading, there, with sidestreets, trees, night, mist, lamps, cowboys, barns, hoops, girls, leaves, something so familiar and never been seen it tears your heart out—I’m dashing down this street, doppity clip, just left Cody and Evelyn at a San Francisco spectral restaurant or cafeteria table at Market and Third where we talked eagerly plans for a trip East it was (as if!) (as if there could be East or West in that waving old compass of the sack, base set on the pillow, foolish people and crazy people dream, the world wont be saved at this rate, these are the scravenings of a—lost—sheep)—the Evelyn of these dreams is an amenable—Cody is—(cold and jealous)—something—dont know—dent care—Just that after I talk to them—Good God it’s taken me all this time to say, I’m riding down the hill—it becomes the Bunker Hill Street of Lowell—I’m headed for the black river on a white horse—it broke my heart when I woke up, to realize that I was going to make that trip East (pathetic!)—by myself—alone in eternity—to which now I go, on white horse, not knowing what’s going to happen, predestined or not, if predestined why bother, if not why try, not if try why, but try if why not, or not why—At the present time I have nothing to say and refuse to go on without further knowledge.

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This month on the blog, in addition to our regular excerpts from recently released City Lights titles, we’re featuring excerpts from our backlist that orbit (near or far) around this theme of “journey,” observations from/about whatever worlds our authors have visited.

“In the Book of Dreams I just continue the same story but in the dreams I had of the real-life characters I always write about.”—Jack Kerouac

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