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Obviously, we all know this book is a classic. Reading this was pure bliss! Reading this was meditating via reading. Reading this was a bibliophile orgasming. This is also the first book that I've read this year that I'm going with a five star rating.
The way Jack Kerouac put the Beat generation using his run-on sentences and easy-flowing paragraphs that famously came out of a type-written scroll is legendary. I haven't read a book in a long time that made me stay up an entire night just to continue reading.
The story, essentially a semi-autobiographical travelogue, in this book is simple, yet terrifically profound. While it's hard to explain the plot, It's about Sal Parasise's travel from New York to Denver, to Chicago, to San Francisco and to Mexico. And his interactions with his friends, most notably Dean Moriarty. There are innumerable other strangers who pop-in and pop-out of the story in almost all chapters.
I want to now review this book from a road-tripping fan's perspective. If you're a long distance road tripping fan, this book is the closest thing to actually road-tripping. Reading this book makes you wanna go on a road-trip, meet new people, get fresh air, speak in funny accents, drink new beer, eat different food (and Apple Pie, the food eaten this book most often e), laugh, cry, look at the unending sky, fly off the wild blue yonder. The book made me go on two long road-trips, and also visit the Loneliest Road in the US - US 50 in Nevada.
It also made me wonder about the times before the Interstate Highway System when the hippie road-tripper's primary way of traveling was in fact hitchhiking! How fun.
I wanna read this book again, and go road tripping again. The book is so good there's no way a movie based on this could justify the experience. The only thing that could add to and match the beauty of this book is the reader's own imagination.
The road trip is a popular theme in American literature. Ever since Lewis and Clark chronicled their expedition of 1804, America's appetite for the genre has been insatiable. But there's more to a successful story than the mere nuts and bolts of a travelogue; it needs soul, character, and - above all else - tension to keep the pages turning.
Perhaps the most famous chronicle of the road trip genre is Jack Kerouac's enduring classic, ON THE ROAD (New American Library, $3.95). Originally published in 1957, it tosses convention on its ear and through a seemingly endless series of run-on sentences put the Beat Generation firmly on the map. At the time of its writing, the seedy subculture that was to become known as Beat took a backseat to the post-war economic boom enjoyed by mainstream America, shut out - as it were - of the party, and so created their own party out of jazz joints and urban ghettos composed of other disenfranchised souls in search of It: It, being riding the edge of the moment; It, being the freaky booze-addled, drug-induced alt-reality that lent to misfits a sense of belonging, altogether divorced of the post-war apocalyptic military-industrial fever quietly sweeping through "respectable" circles. It, the antithesis of respectability, It, out of this world.
Upon completion of the manuscript, Kerouac purportedly delivered it to his publisher on one continuous roll of paper which he'd pounded out on the keys of a typewriter in practically one sitting which in itself is a feat and very Beat approach to writing which you gotta dig if for nothing else the cat's unique style. The story follows Sal Paradise in his pursuit west from New York to Denver, then San Francisco, back the other direction and eventually south to Mexico and back, at times in the presence of Dean Moriarty a practically god-like figure in Sal's eyes for his checkered past and bold present pursuit of self-gratification and his father a seemingly mythical creature always just out of reach, the source of Dean's angst and excuse for his wanderlust: Dad's a hobo. Though Sal uses the senior Moriarty as his reason for much of his travels - he sincerely wishes to see the father and son reunited - there's a bromance going on here that cannot be denied, Sal knows it, Dean knows it and it's the underlying tension of it that makes ON THE ROAD a page turner, the tension of longing, the tension that comes from the difference between the idea of Dean Moriarty and the reality of Dean Moriarty, loser, winner, player, dreamer, conspirator, user, and sadly, liability. When plans are made to see Europe together, despite their enthusiasm we just know it's never going to happen for these cats, the junior Moriarty trapped as it were in his father's legacy, pursued by Sal just as his father is pursued by the son, eternally just out of reach. Europe never does happen for these cats - no surprise to either of them - but how it never happens makes for a great read.
Did I mention Kerouac's penchant for run-on sentences?
Was there ever a novel with a history like this one? When Jack Kerouac brought the manuscript for "On The Road" into the publisher's office, it was on one long, taped-together scroll with no pagination and no paragraph breaks. When he was told that they liked it, but it needed be made more uniform, he said that it could not be changed because it was dictated to him by the Holy Ghost. (Where are these kinds of writers today?) The publishers insisted and eventually wore him down to allow a large edit. The history of all that is contained in this volume, and also other insightful essays. The original publication of the edited "On The Road" exploded into a phenomenon that effected even America life styles. This famous book, read and aught for years, was not the one that Kerouac had written. Ginsberg stated all along that the publishers had ruined the book, and I thought he was just being his rebellious self. But Ginsberg was right. Many passages removed were the most perceptive and salient on America. The Beats have been justifiably criticized for their views on gender - but all the parts of the scroll on women that had strong, effective positions and perspectives were removed. Also more convenient and valuable in the scroll is that all the names of the people are their real names. This says nothing for passages of Kerouac's lyrical style that had been excised. In short, if you have not read the Scroll, then you have not read Jack Kerouac's "On the Road."
I want to see what he has seen.
I want to know the people he has known.
I want to share these experiences.
Sal Paradise/Jack Kerouac takes you on a truly satisfying trip, told in journal style, down the American back roads in the 50’s, during the Eisenhower post-WWII prosperity the rest of the population was enjoying. You’re experiencing this journey along with the main character as he paints a picture with words… a verbal picture of the America he lives in during those years.
He uses rich descriptive phrases so you feel as if you have met his companions. Sal tells about his friends who “never say a common place thing”. This book is filled with great thought provoking quotes - “East of my youth, West of my future”, which gives the listener an idea of where this story is in time and space for Sal. It underscores the restless searching quality of all the characters throughout this book.
In another anecdote, Sal complains about the troubles he has with hitchhiking but not what you would expect, ie. not being able to get a ride. The problem was having to talk all the time to people who gave you rides.
Matt Dillon, the reader, has great pacing and vocal tone. His delivery goes from matter of fact to high energy as the story dictates. With audio books, the reader is as important as the book he/she reads.
Listening to this book is like catching up with a comfortable old friend…that wild eyed wacky guy that your mother warned you about. But you love this rascal friend and want to keep up with his latest escapades. You chuckle and smile to yourself later at the recollection of the time spent together. Go on the road with Jack Kerouac, even if it is only in your mind!
This book made no sense to me. Halfway through, I realized it was just a random series of events about driving across the country. Too many run-on sentences. The plot was going nowhere. Did not enjoy it.
I read that Joan Haverty Kerouac brought her husband split pea soup to keep him going while he wrote this book. If that’s true, it is now my #1 reason to hate split pea soup. To be fair to On The Road, it’s great material for drinking games. You could take a shot whenever the narrator’s race fetish peeks through, whenever he checks out a group of girls and makes sure to note that they’re teenagers, whenever he and his bros fantasize about beating up a queer person, whenever Marylou is called a whore, whenever Galatea’s husband abandons her, whenever the writing makes you wonder if maybe it just skimmed over rape, or whenever the narrator calls the women he’s sleeping with stupid. (Kinda telling on himself there). The possibilities are endless! Unfortunately, it’s still a boring, exhausting book.
I really tried to understand what Kerouac was trying to say in this book - there isn't much of a plot and the book just ends. After reading the reviews it is supposed to be an anti-capitalism statement about "living in the moment" and not being driven by money, working 8 hour days, etc. I didn't get that at all and it may be because I was not around during the beat era. The main character could probably be diagnosed as a narcissistic bi-polar user of people. Why anyone would follow this guy across country multiple times is beyond me. It's great to be young and carefree but we all have responsibilities and eventually you grow up (in most cases). Kerouac's writing style also takes some getting used to - at times it is poetry like. I am glad I read the book. I just don't think it deserves all the accolades it has received.
When it was written it was an expose of the shadow side and hidden aspects of the American dream. The original road trip book for America. By now it has been done so many times in book and in film that I can't imagine it still holds any insights that haven't been overexposed. Yet still it continues to speak to others as it once spoke to me. Personally though, it was The Electric Koolaid Acid Test that got me excited about counter culture way more than Kerouac.
A stream of consciousnesses novel regarding the author's travels back and forth across America and eventually into Mexico most often with his friend Neal Cassady ( I read the original scroll version of this book which is not edited for drug use, sexuality nor were the names changed to prevent libel actions.) The characters are all flawed and in many instances not particularly likable. It would seem this was the author's intent, to show all the foibles in people. The author is a very good writer with many evocative paragraphs. Worth reading if you are interested.
Dean, the devil (vs S. Paradise's angel), driving me mad... till the end of the road/book, when I lost the grip on his soul.
Not for one who focus on pure rational description of human behavior, who is only comfortable with plain coherent form, who sticks to what should be avoided, or abide the moral standards judged by language used... not for one whose head and heart in faraway chambers.
Well, now I at least know what all the hullabaloo is about. Interesting, but not one I would recommend.
Couldn't get more than 50 or so pages into it. This one just wasn't for me.
I really wanted to like it. I had also hoped to find the characters engaging, interesting. Instead I found them irritating. I was not a fan of the overall dismissivness of poor behavior. I did not finish the book. Although, perhaps someday I will. Today is not it.
Wow, I can't believe I put off reading this book for so long. I thought it was a travel book about a guy crossing the country looking for the American Dream, when in reality he finds it in everyone he meets on the way. For the main character it's depressing but if he only opened his eyes once in a while he would see it right in front of him. I loved the conscious stream of thought method that the book is written in, in other words, the fact the author was drugged up for 3 weeks and wrote this whole novel on a typewritter with no punctuation. If you enjoyed FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS or TRAINSPOTTING this is a book for you.
I *hated* this book when I first read it as a teenager - no plot, no believable charaters etc.
But I tried it about 10 years later and loved it - the language is wonderful and it succeeds in being both a realistic, yet engaging portrayal of everyday events and an enduring call towards an alternative mindset...A classic for sure (though I personally prefer The Dharma Bums.)
This is a story of friendship and life on the road in late 1940’s to 1950 America.
Although the moment in time, the places they pass through and people they meet are of particular cultural significance to the story of central characters Sal and Dean, the search for the big answers, passion and excitement in life are pursuits relatable to many – no matter where we live or what decade it is.
Best read with the likes of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker or Tom Waits in the background!
From what I'd heard from other readers, I was under the impression that this would be the "book of all books." Unfortunately, I found myself bored and underwhelmed. I felt like this was a sort of coming of age story, but one where none of the characters actually discover themselves. A lot of lost souls aimlessly travelling around in search of what? A whole lot of nothing apparently.
Perhaps I'm from the wrong generation (born in the early '60s) but this book didn't engage me.
I was surprised to find how much of it was not what I expected. I guess that with a classic one starts to get certain ideas about the kind of book it is and I'm not sure even where all of those preconceived ideas came from. It was less a travel book (I expected a book about America, similar perhaps to Steinbeck's Travels with Charley) and less a book about a certain group of people from a certain generation. I was surprised as well about how much non-conformist behaviour occurred priot to the sixties. Sal's parents are actually a little before my own and yet seem so much more radical. I was put off by Sal's friend Dean and his behaviour. He never really seemed to take responsibility for his actions and his treatment of the women he met was definitely demeaning.
I'm glad I read it, and it made me think about some things in a different way, but it is definitely not a favourite.
My all time favorite book. It is one of the few that I have read where I am truly happy while reading, rather than just "enjoying" it. Fantastic! I am however very dissapointed that they are making a movie out of it, especially since Kristen Stewart is playing Marylou.
Film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road in production in early 2011. Directed by Walter Salles, produced by Francis Ford Coppola and stars Sam Riley (Sal Paradise), Kristen Stewart (Mary Lou) and Garrett Hedlund (Dean Moriarty).
I wish I had read that book before ! this is an amazing story about free spirits... yes it's kind of sexist and racist, but let me remind you that book was written in the 50's which is quite another time.
Just terrible. This book is sexist, racist, and homophobic. Dean Moriarty has to be one of the most annoying characters ever. One redeeming element of the book is the jazz scenes which are described excellently and illustrate the jazz genre of the time.
I have heard so many rave reviews about this book, but when I read it, it was not my cup of tea at all.
Yes, the yearning for travel I identified with, but the selfishness of the characters ruined my enjoyment of this book.
I found this book interesting, the entire time I was reading it people would stop me and tell me how much they loved that book, how much it made them want to travel. I had a very different experience.
This book to me was sad, had a sense of desperation and need for escapism that was constant and unrelenting throughout the entire book.