Cover image for Book of dreams
Book of dreams
Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco : City Lights Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
xx, 339 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3521.E735 Z484 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3521.E735 Z484 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS3521.E735 Z484 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3521.E735 Z484 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Book of Dreams is Jack Kerouac's record of his dream life, a parallel autobiography of the soul, the sleeper's On the Road :

"I got my weary bones out of bed & through eyes swollen with sleep swiftly scribbled in pencil in my little dream notebook till I had exhausted every rememberable item . . . ."

Awake of asleep, Jack's mind spun the web of relationships that were the substance of almost everything he wrote:

"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."

"Lost love, madness, castration, cats that speak, cats in danger of their lives, people giving birth to cats, grade school classrooms, Mel Torme, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tolstoy and Genet all make repeated appearances, lending the collection a repetitive, nonprogrammatic logic and exposing an unfamiliar sort of vulnerable beauty in Kerouac's iconic persona." -- Publishers Weekly

"There is much to lament in the saga of his life, and quite a bit is surprising." --Michael Kammen, Los Angeles Book Review

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) was a principal actor in the Beat Generation, a companion of Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady in that great adventure. His books include On the Road , The Dharma Bums , Mexico City Blues , Lonesome Traveler , Visions of Cody , Pomes All Sizes (City Lights), Scattered Poems (City Lights), and Scripture of the Golden Eternity (City Lights).

Author Notes

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922. His first novel, The Town and the City, was published in 1950. He considered all of his "true story novels," including On the Road, to be chapters of "one vast book," his autobiographical Legend of Duluoz.

He died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969 at the age of forty-seven.

(Publisher Provided) Jack Kerouac, March 12, 1922 - October 21, 1969 Jean Louis Kerouac, better known as Jack Kerouac, was born on March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Kerouac studied briefly at Columbia University before dropping out to join the Merchant Marines. During this time and despite his parents' disapproval, he befriended a group of young Columbia students and began work on a novel with the help of Allen Ginsberg, the author of the avant-garde poem, Howl. Kerouac's first novel, The Town and the City, was based on the torments he suffered as he tried to balance his wild city life with his old-world family values.

Kerouac's next novel, On the Road, a work inspired by Kerouac's cross-country trips with his friend Neal Cassady, was rejected for seven years before it was finally published. Hailed the finest novel on the "Beat Generation", On the Road explores an era of experimentation and void in the author and his culture. With its success, Kerouac achieved the fame he sought. In subsequent years, he wrote many more novels, including Doctor Sax, Lonesome Traveler, and Big Sur. Kerouac is generally considered to be the father of the Beat movement, although he actively disliked such labels. He reportedly wrote his prose spontaneously and without edits. He always carried a notebook which helped him to form free-flowing prose at a moment's notice.

After years of alcohol abuse, Kerouac suffered from an internal hemorrhage caused by cirrhosis of the liver. He died at his home on October 21, 1969, at the age of 47.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

This new edition of the primary beat's private dream diaries presents the whole of Kerouac's original manuscript, including some 200-odd dreams not published in the initial selection (1961). More or less liberated from the requirements of the Beat swagger, Kerouac's writing is at times blissfully uncool, evoking an almost nave and sentimental sensibility: " this kitty was an angel, and spoke the truth"; "nobody loves me 'cause there's no me." Correspondences between some dream characters and their counterparts in the novels are not accidental, and are correlated in a prologue (and by poet Robert Creeley, in an insightful introduction). But many facets of Kerouac's oeuvre appear here much less polished, and more naked and powerful: " My mother and I are arm in arm on the floor, I'm crying afraid to die, she's blissful and has one leg in pink sexually out between me, and I'm thinking `Even on the verge of death women think of love & snaky affection' Women? who's dreaming this?" Lost love, madness, castration, cats that speak, cats in danger of their lives, people giving birth to cats, grade school classrooms, Mel Torme, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tolstoy and Genet all make repeated appearances, lending the collection a repetitive, nonprogrammatic logic and exposing an unfamiliar sort of vulnerable beauty in Kerouac's iconic persona. One only wonders, in the end, whether anyone, even Jack Kerouac, really has such fantastic dreams. (June 30) Forecast: With memoir still a dominant beach-read genre, and with Kerouac still a Dean-like name, proper promotion and review attention could lead to significant sales. City Lights, still the premier publisher of Beatiana, will also bring out a collection of interviews, San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets (including Joanne Kyger, Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder), in June ($19.95 paper 384p ISBN 0-87286-379-4). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One 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                  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, cloppity 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---dont 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. AND MEXICO CITY, A SPECTRAL ONE WITH WISHED FOR PIERS sitting at the base of gloomy gray Liverpool-like Ferrocarril---I and a horde of young generation in suits with prom flower girls attend a melee, a gathering, at a building, a tower---so crowded, I, among bachelors, have to wait outside---rousing applause, speeches, music inside---Strange how in my dreams it doesnt seem that everything's already happened in a more interesting way, but awe, sweet awe remains---for my rage is eating my heart away. What am I doing in this sinister North Carolina as a clerk getting up at 6:00---a clerk among sinister oldfaced clerks in an old gloomy railroad office---no dream could be as frightening and more like hell.---I finally manage to get in the party---no, the idiot dog woke me up at just the point where I might have made a story of the deal---and lately anyway I wake at dawn with the horrors. In New York they're stealing my ideas, getting published, being feted, fucking other men's wives, getting laurel wreaths from old poets ---and I wake on this bed of horror to a nightmare only life could have devised. To hell with it. IN A STRANGE LIVINGROOM presumably in Mexico City but very much and suspiciously like a livingroom in a dream of my Ma and Pa in Lowell or Dream Movetown---June (Evans) is telling me the name of a great unknown Greek writer, Plipias, Snipias, how his father ran away with the family money so Plipias, queer, went to live on an Island with the boy he loved; and wrote: "I never go on strike against man, because I love him"---June recommended this writer highly, and said: "You can spend an hour a day hassling over small things but in the larger sense you can see what he means, never go on strike against man---" Meanwhile I'm about to go in the bathroom but Bull's already in there---has made no comment-- DIGGING IN THIS WOMAN'S CELLAR to plant, or transplant, my marijuana---under clutters of papers (just a minute before was going thru my own things, in a huge new room, Peaches'd just left Hal)---clutters of rubber bands, etc., and digging into dirt to make plant bed but realized how deep her hole was beneath her junk, thought to myself, "The old lady's---the older you get the deeper your cellar gets, more like a grave-----the more your cellar looks like a grave---" There was a definite hole to the left---a definite saying---                  I was foraging for my stories and paper for Peaches---earlier I was in a room, working for a man as secretary, he was a masquerader, a fraud---and an evil pulp magazine crook genius leader of some evil---My mother visited me as if I was in jail---I turned over in my bed, my cot, interested in these things-- HORRIBLE HASSELS IN CHICAGO---with young seamen and Deni Bleu, in a car, Boston-like going up and down bright traffics---stopped by cops, the youngest kid throws 2 quarts beer out window and smashes them---"Goddam him!" we all curse---I make note of my pockets, nothing but a rubber---But cops find a roach, but I'm going to say it's just thyme, or Cu-Babs, and that's what it really is---thyme not valuable but culpable---a plainclothes taxidriver cop has me stick my tongue out to check on Cu-Babs, I do so, he makes as if to slap me but doesnt---On the radio we'd heard big seaman union broadcasts with that silly wiper from the Pres. Adams giggling over the air---also making angry union speeches---Deni gloomy as ever--- used as ever---                  Then in the olddream Frisco of hills again but still related to the Bunker Hill of the white horse and altho it hasnt happened since I actually went back to Frisco---Cody is driving jaloppy, a swank apartment house hill (he pulls throttle from floor without seeming effort to reach)---he's telling me something but unpleasantly, everything is now unpleasant, everybody wants money or earning power from me, the sweetness is gone---Cody has a harried, unpleasant, sullen expression--- The jaloppy reminds me of the jaloppy I had parked in a quiet Ozone Park street last week, a buddy sleeping at the wheel, and a guy began shooting at us with a shotgun from 2nd story window of a leafy Calabrese home and I ducked in gutter gritting my teeth for feel of shot burning me but he missed---then I run down street, he begins shooting at me deliberately (first shot was aimed at woman June Ogilvie woman on sidewalk)---now he wants me ---I run---I'm tearful and terrified that he's after me---Jaloppy is mine---he jumps in, "he's going to steal my truck now!" I moan---"Goddam this world!" And my buddy didnt move from behind that wheel---was this because he was killed by the first shot? He was Don Jackson of Mex City---I wished I hadnt left carkeys in car---I'd been driving and driving, thru that spectral railroad station Rainycity---The madman shot again---I was in that Ozone Park that sometimes at night on a vast boulevard I'm riding a bus to my mother's davenport porch house---all rattling, all haunted by the dead---lost lost lost in the infinite eternity of our doom--- LAST NIGHT MY FATHER WAS BACK in Lowell---O Lord, O haunted life---and he wasnt interested in anything much---He keeps coming back in this dream, to Lowell, has no shop, no job even---a few ghostly friends are rumored to be helping him, looking for connections, he has many especially among the quiet misanthropic old men---but he's feeble and he aint supposed to live long anyway so it doesnt matter---He has departed from the living so much his once-excitement, tears, argufying, it's all gone, just paleness, he doesnt care any more---has a lost and distant air---We saw him in a cafeteria, across street from Paige's but not Waldorf's---he hardly talks to me---it's mostly my mother talking to me about him---"Ah well, ah bien, he vivra pas longtemps ce foi icit! "---"he wont live long this time!"---she hasnt changed---tho she too mourns to see his change ---but God Oh God this haunted life I keep hoping against hope against hope he's going to live anyway even tho I not only know he's sick but that it's a dream and he did die in real life---ANYWAY---I worry myself ... (When writing Town and the City I wanted to say "Peter worried himself white"--for the haunted sadness that I feel in these dreams (PA-G-X4327) is white ---) Maybe Pop is very quietly sitting in a chair while we talk---he happened to come home from downtown to sit awhile but not because it's home so much as he has no other place to go at the moment---in fact he hangs out in the poolhall all day---reads the paper a little---he himself doesnt want to live much longer---that's the point---He's so different than he was in real life---in haunted life I think I see now his true soul---which is like mine---life means nothing to him---or, I'm my father myself and this is me (especially the Frisco dreams)---but it is Pa, the big fat man, but frail and pale, but so mysterious and un-Kerouac---but is that me? Haunted life, haunted life---and all this takes place within inches of the ironclouds dream of 1946 that saved my soul (the bridge across the Y, 10 blocks up from 'cafeteria'---) Oh Dammit God-- A LONG QUIET ALMOST WAKING TALK WITH EVELYN---almost real---about how hopeless her "love" is and what's going to happen and not happen----I dont understand love at all---but I sit there eagerly talking and supping up the hours of the angels---by the clock--- THE STRANGEST PLACE IN THE WORLD is that little fairyland old Colonial house on a narrow street in back of my father's old printing shop near the Royal (therefore Market street) but also in England and gray---cobblestones ---many dreams there, vague marriages, girls, maybe something to do with the other life I sensed in the Frisco Market Street Vision---( Market street? Of Greeks? )---On a very strange other street semi Aiken or Lilly in Centralville but also a big mysterious maindrag in a tremendously important city like New York (Bronx St?) or Montreal---but really Aiken St.---but really Juarez at the Prado---(New Haven! That's What!)---a young kid, a boy, well dressed like the round-the-world-$80-hitch-hiker is riding a horse over the trolley tracks but is holding the reins so loose I, from the curb of Scoop's store, say "Hey, that rein's too long---he's gonna lose control of his horse---" But gravely the kid trots up the street, thru traffic, but then starts galloping either to show off or lost control and as he gallops the reins slip more and more thru his hands till he's leaning way back and rearing to fall backwards with hands up holding futile long flapreins as the horse gallops across a dangerous intersection where the light has just changed and armies of cars and trucks who'd been playing the light, bearing down on it 60 m.p.h., now ball right thru and barely miss horse and rider but I can see he's going to get killed pretty soon down the street---and I'm yelling "Grab those reins shorter! pull!"--he's no baby, I'm saying to myself, he has enough strength to pull that horse up if he wants to---aint he got sense? THIS IS NOT ME                  Also there was Garden and schools on the side rawls, but I paid no attention and dont remember, except, a dawn, waking, I saw the vision of 3 words in my mind.. "urp rain again" ... the return of the urp rain again--- ("A bullet fell in ya!" says Little Paul) THEY WOULDNT LET ME WORK on the ship even tho it had just sailed from the North River pier where Joe and I've many times walked---a gray, dismal pier---rickety, hiveish, with "Julien's reformatory" as I call a certain strange Arabic tenement and the place where Ma and I stood on the warship deck in that famous dream of face-towel crabs floating in the water that Hubbard analyzed in 1945---I'm in my quarters, we're already at sea, I feel lonely, awful, lost in mazes of fresh-paint rooms and lockers and bunks and worried about the gray cold sea and the officials come in to check my papers and he, the head one, young, grins---I call him Mate, meaning First Mate, forgetting the Sir---"You cant sail without a so-and-so paper," he says with incredulous smile, "You'll have to sail this trip but you cant work"---I'd helped with lines at tight dock---in fact I'd run on board the very last minute as the ship was moving down the crowded canal, I could see its funnel passing roofs---how I got on is unclear, I was returning from a spectral ball in the huge-room places like the Mexico Harbour City Tower with mixups of everybody---O haunted poorboy John Kerouac but you are headed for a long sad dream---                  The smoke is on the Tar River, the sparrow does its delicate flutter--- IN DENVER NOW---I dream I go in a store place and there's Joe Gavota and Joe Melis and I go up dramatically to poke Melis on his LHS thicksweater and he's not surprised at all but as if I'd been known to be around and in fact Gavota (who delivered me the '38 Lawrence game football) doesnt even look up---and they are casual but as tho aware, and I feel guilty and silly about something---at a big wild party, after loves in a sideroom slat-windowed bed (I think in a house on a dirt road, the same perfect future wife love I dream'd long ago, clarity is perfect)---we, love and I, girl with beautiful young tawny body drives me mad, we sit on floor, our love supposed to be a secret, she snuggles up, I say "Not here dont you think?" (it's all taking place in Australia!) and like Edna she tinkles laughter and throws herself back and over with her pretty little ass no panties naked crack and all to the party of watching jealous women dancing with men who dont care---one way or the other---or a jealous suitor at the kitchen in back---the dirt road of the Shrouded Arab and of the high school late gold afternoon when my mother bought me a baseball bat and Gavota and Melis (of the Lowell High School football team) were there---                  Deni Bleu appears, we've been sliding down a hill but not on snow, D'S in good mood---breaks window ---whole section of wall---slats fall out like yesterday's ruined shack house under Denver Viaduct---Deni on a stepladder ---laughing---and my girl-love there---more like Edna than anyone---but her ass is just like June Evans's! (and yesterday on phone I said "Evelyn Pomeray's more like June Evans than anyone") (to Mannerly)---mysteries aplenty right here. (I shall survive them and love them or they love me or it's hate, war & death---) IN SAN JOSE NOW, Sept. 7, I'm riding the yellow local Lowell bus home to Pawtucketville and as the driver comes into that last fast stretch to the corner (wrinkly tar) I say now roll ---but it's on Riverside instead of Moody, the homestretch is changed because I've heard of the new superhiway---As he (there's a kid or two riding with me, heads out the window, we've just come off adventures on a ship which was shaken by depth charges and Boisvert was on board)----blam, there's a dead run-over dog near the stop, as I get off I notice it is still alive tho contorted and run over---"Oh God he's still alive and suffering---Officer!" I yell to one of the two busdrivers "that dog is still alive---shoot him, kill him"---and out of nowhere he ups with a revolver .38 and aims it down the stairwell and begins the shooting of the dog, about 4 times, the ineffectual dreambullets only fairly surprise the dog, he twitches, gets up, and comes for me and the kids---We run backwards across Moody to avoid it---"Keep to the right!" yells the busdriver---I don't know what he means---The dog may bite me but his deathness I dont want to touch me---I can choke it, stop it, but not his deathness---he is a dirty gray Fellaheen dog, with some brown in the neck, and an old tragic collar of some blearfaced owner in blank and blind sternity,---his teeth, his eyes---Then I see G.J. and he's complaining that Scotty or somebody is still the same old Scotty, it's NOW, 1952, morning, the old dream of sad G.J. in the morning getting ready to go to work in the Navy and griping---I tell him about the dog, the ship---as I'm telling now-- (Continues...) Excerpted from Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac. Copyright (c) 2001 by John Sampas and The Estate of Jack Kerouac. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.