I m supposed to like On the Road, right Well, I don t I hate it and I always have There are a lot of reasons why I hate it I find Kerouac s attitude toward the world pathetically limited and paternalistic InOn the Roadhe actually muses about how much he wishes that he could have been born a Negro in the antebellum South, living a simple life free from worry, and does so seemingly without any sense of irony On every page, the book is about how Kerouac a young, white, middle class, solipsistic alcoholic feels, and nothingBut that s only one reason I hate this book The main reason I hate it is because, for me, reading Kerouac s prose is almost physically painful I love the ramblings of self centered drunks when they re self deprecating, ironic, and or funny, but Kerouac was none of these things He was a pretentious, self important bore who produced some of the most painfully bad and inconsequential prose of the 20th century Or any century. When Jack Kerouac S On The Road First Appeared In , Readers Instantly Felt The Beat Of A New Literary Rhythm A Fictionalised Account Of His Own Journeys Across America With His Friend Neal Cassady, Kerouac S Beatnik Odyssey Captured The Soul Of A Generation And Changed The Landscape Of American Fiction For EverInfluenced By Jack London And Thomas Wolfe, Kerouac Always Wanted To Be A Writer, But His True Voice Only Emerged When He Wrote About His Own Experiences In On The Road Leaving A Broken Marriage Behind Him, Sal Paradise Kerouac Joins Dean Moriarty Cassady , A Tearaway And Former Reform School Boy, On A Series Of Journeys That Takes Them From New York To San Francisco, Then South To Mexico Hitching Rides And Boarding Buses, They Enter A World Of Hobos And Drifters, Fruit Pickers And Migrant Families, Small Towns And Wide Horizons Adrift From Conventional Society, They Experience America In The Raw A Place Where Living Is Hard, But Life Is Holy And Every Moment Is PreciousWith Its Smoky, Jazz Filled Atmosphere And Its Restless, Yearning Spirit Of Adventure, On The Road Left Its Mark On The Culture Of The Late Th Century, Influencing Countless Books, Films And Songs Kerouac S Prose Is Remarkable Both For Its Colloquial Swing And For The Pure Lyricism Inspired By The American Landscape The Backroads, The Black Tar Roads That Curve Among The Mournful Rivers Like Susquehanna, Monongahela, Old Potomac And Monocacy This Folio Society Edition Is Illustrated With Evocative Photographs Of Kerouac And The Landscapes Of S America Now Acknowledged As A Modern Classic, On The Road Remains A Thrilling And Poignant Story Of The Road Less Travelled A View from the CouchOTR has received some negative reviews lately, so I thought I would try to explain my rating.This novel deserves to lounge around in a five star hotel rather than languish in a lone star saloon.DisclaimerPlease forgive my review It is early morning and I have just woken up with a sore head, an empty bed and a full bladder.ConfesssionLet me begin with a confession that dearly wants to become an assertion.I probably read this book before most of you were born.So there Wouldn t you love to say that If only I had the courage of my convictions.Instead, I have only convictions, and they are many and varied.However, I am sure that by the end of my this sentence, I shall be released.Elevated to the BarI read OTR in my teens, which were spread all over the end of the 60 s and the beginning of the 70 s.My life was dominated by Scouting for Boys.I mean the book, not the activity.My mantra was be prepared , although at the time I didn t realise that this actually meant be prepared for war.After reading OTR, my new mantra was be inebriated.Mind you, I had no idea what alcohol tasted like, but it sounded good.Gone were two boys in a tent and three men in a boat.OTR was about trying to get four beats in a bar, no matter how far you d travelled that day.Typing or WritingForget whether it was just typing rather than writing.That was just Truman Capote trying to dot one of Dorothy Parker s eyes.This is like focusing on the mince instead of the sausage.All Drums and SymbolsYou have to appreciate what OTR symbolised for people like me.It was On the Road , not In the House or In the Burbs.It was about dynamism, not passivity.It wasn t about a stream of consciousness, it was about a river of activity.It was about white light, white heat , not white picket fences.Savouring the SausageOK, your impressions are probablyrecent than mine.Mine are memories that have been influenced by years of indulgence I do maintain that alcohol kills the unhealthy brain cells first, so it is actually purifying your brain I simply ask that you overlook the mince and savour the sausage.Beyond EphemeralityI would like to make one last parting metaphor.I have misappropriated it from the musician, Dave Graney.He talks about feeling ephemeral, but looking eternal.Dave comes from the Church of the Latter Day Hipsters.He is way cooler than me, he even looks great in leather pants, in a spivvy kinda way.However, I think the point he was making if not, then the point I am making is that most of life is ephemeral It just happens and it s gone forever.However, in Dave s case, the way he looks, the way he feels, he turns it into something eternal.It s his art, his music, our pleasure, our memories at least until we die.Footnotes on CoolCreativity and style are our last chance attempt to defy ephemerality and mortality and become eternal.Yes, all that stuff between the bookends of OTR might be typing, it might be preserving ephemerality that wasn t worthy or deserving.However, the point is the attempt to be your own personal version of cool.Heck, no way am I cool like the Beats or James Dean or Marlon Brando or Jack Nicholson or Clint Eastwood or Keith Richards or Camille Paglia.However, I am trying to live life beyond the ephemeral.That s what OTR means to me If it doesn t mean that to you, hey, that s alright I m OK, you re OK It s cool.Original posted March 01, 2011 This is the book which has given me anxiety attacks on sleepless nights.This is the book which has glared at me from its high pedestal of classical importance in an effort to browbeat me into finally finishing it And this is that book which has shamed me into feigning an air of ignorance every time I browsed any of the countless 1001 books to read before you die lists.Yes Jack Kerouac, you have tormented me for the past 3 years and every day I couldn t summon the strength to open another page of On the Road and subject my brain to the all too familiar torture of Sal s sleep inducing, infuriatingly monotonous narration Finally, I conquer you after nearly 3 years of dithering I am the victorious one in the battle in which you have relentlessly assaulted my finer senses with your crassness and innate insipidity and dared me to plod on I can finally beat my chest in triumph ugh pardon the Tarzan ish metaphor but a 1 star review deserves no better and announce to the world that I have finished readingOn the RoadOh what an achievement And what a monumental waste of my time.Dear Beat Generation classic, I can finally state without any fear of being called out on my ignorance that I absolutely hated reading you Every moment of it Alternatively, this book can be named White Heterosexual Man s Misadventures and Chauvinistic Musings And even that makes it sound muchinteresting and less offensive than it actually is In terms of geographical sweep, the narrative covers nearly the whole of America in the 50s weaving its way in and out of Los Angeles and New York and San Francisco and many other major American cities Through the eyes of Salvatore Sal Paradise, a professional bum, we are given an extended peek into the lives of a band of merry have nots, their hapless trysts with women, booze, drugs, homelessness, destitution, jazz as they hitchhike and motor their way through the heart of America Sounds fascinating right Ayn Rand will vehemently disagree though But no, it s anything but that Instead this one just shoves Jack Kerouac s internalized white superiority, sexism and homophobia right in the reader s face in the form of some truly bad writing This book might as well come with a caption warning any potential reader who isn t White or male or straight I understand that this was written way before it became politically incorrect to portray women in such a poor light or wistfully contemplate living a Negro s life in the antebellum South But there s an obvious limit to the amount of his vile ruminations I can tolerateThere was an old Negro couple in the field with us They picked cotton with the same God blessed patience their grandfathers had practiced in ante bellum AlabamaSeriously God blessed patience Every female character in this one is a vague silhouette or a caricature of a proper human being Marylou, Camille, Terry, Galatea are all frighteningly one dimensional they never come alive for the reader through Sal s myopic vision They are merely there as inanimate props reduced to the status of languishing in the background and occasionally allowed to be in the limelight when the men begin referring to them as if they were objects.Either they are whores for being as sexually liberated as the men are or they are screaming wives who throw their husbands out of the house for being jobless, cheating drunks or they are opportunistic and evil simply because they do not find Sal or Dean or Remy or Ed or any of the men in their lives to be deserving of their trust and respect, which they truly aren t.And sometimes, they are only worthy of only a one or two line description like the followingI had been attending school and romancing around with a girl called Lucille, a beautiful Italian honey haired darling that I actually wanted to marryLook at Sal talking about a woman as if she were a breed of cat he wanted to rescue from the animal shelterFinally he came out with it he wanted me to work MarylouIs Marylou a wrench or a machine of some kind And this is not to mention the countless instances ofget you a girl , get girls , Let s get a girland other minor variations of the same strewn throughout the length of the book and some of Sal s thoughts about queers which are equally revolting Maybe I am too much of a non American with no ties to a real person who sees the Beat era through the lenses of pure nostalgia or maybe I am simply incapable of appreciating the themes of youthful wanderlust and living life with a perverse aimlessness or maybe it s the flat writing and appalling representation of women Whatever the real reason s maybe, I can state with conviction that this is the only American classic which I tried to the best of my abilities to appreciate but failed. I ve been thinking about this book a lot lately, so I figured that I d go back and write something about it When I first read this book, I loved it as a piece of art, but its effect on me was different than I expected So many people hail Kerouac as the artist who made them quit their jobs and go to the road, become a hippie or a beat and give up the rest When I read it though, I had been completely obsessed with hippie culture for a long time, and it caused me to steer away from it for a while While I thought that it would be a rollicking tale of freedom and glory, I found that all of Dean s conquests were tainted by the fact that he had to take advantage of other people every step of the way He was a hugely entertaining character, but would have been a terrible friend, lover, or even acquaintance From the women he married to gas station attendents, right down to Sal Paradise himself, Dean drained everything that he was right out of other people, and it eventually ruined him It left him beatnot heart beating exhilarated, but beat up, dead beat and alone Once I stepped back a little from the awe at Dean s greatness, this book was really sad, and it caused me to put away that romanticism for a while.Now, 2 years later, though, On the Road is coming back to me full on I didn t escape the total wonder at the Beats and the road I have been on the road myself for the last 2 months and have a long way to go before I get back home, and I am constantly aware that the the way was paved by Kerouac and the rest of the crazy geniuses of his generation The road is every bit as romantic as Sal Paradise made it out to be, and its glory far out weighs the short comings of Dean as a friend I mean, the road is a lot like Dean, it takes a lot out of you, but you get addicted to it and obsessed with it and can t let it go, and I don t think there s any other way about it I am in love with America for the first time Now that I ve seen it, driven across and up and down, around and over America, I find it sublime and incredible I think that Kerouac and his friends might ve been the first to see that Maybe not Maybe they are just part of all of American historythey translated the world of Western expansion and canvas covered wagons into the way of the modern world America is something to dream about It is worthy every exuberant and formerly offensive I m proud sticker that s plastered on the back of a pick up truck And Kerouac saw that first hand So, it seems, that there is a certain tragedy in this book, but that it is less important than the unavoidable glory that you come to associate with the road and freedom after following these guys on their crazy adventure I think this book should be read by everyone who wants to know about America. I read On The Road when I was 16 When I was 16, I was so depressed I went to a high school that had a moat around it and a seige mentality On The Road made me not depressed In fact it made me want to hitchhike, hop freight trains, andimportantly to write If I were still 16 I would give On The Road 5 stars I would say, go Go Read this book and be mad for life, delirious, exploding outward into the big uncovered road Consume vanilla ice cream and apple pie Drink black coffee Fuck a million times on a small bed and smoke cigarettes all night for a thousand years Go When I was 21 I re read On The Road At this point in my life, I smoked so much pot that I can t really remember the exact effect it had on me, other than the fact that I was very impressed with the glowing red eyes of Chicago and the book in general left a sort of a rumbling phantasmagoric wake in my fuzzy brain If I were still 21, I would forget to give On The Road a rating I would say, hey, borrow this book, you ll like it And then you would borrow it but you would never bring it back or you would read it but trash the copy on accident on a fishing boat, luckily, in this instance, you not only would have read the book but you also would have enjoyed it very much You would tell me that later.When I was 26 I re read On The Road again It was not the same book I found it naive, verbose in a really bloated and unconvincing way, sappy, and really not that good I would give it two stars I would not actually finish reading the book. Kerouac s masterpiece breathes youth and vigor for the duration and created the American bohemian beat lifestyle which has been the subject of innumerable subsequent books, songs, and movies I have read this at least two or three times and always feel a bit breathless and invigorated because of the restlessness of the text and the vibrance of the characters There was an extraordinary exhibit at the Pompidou Center earlier this year where the original draft in Kerouac s handwriting was laid out end to end in a glass case It was like seeing the original copy of Don Quixote in the royal palace in Madrid very moving In any case, there is no excuse not to read this wonderful high point of mid 20th century American literature.Re read and found both beauty and sadness in this work The sadness stems from the sexism, racism, and homophobia expressed throughout the book Sign of the times, I know, but it is still painful to see that these Beat visionaries for all their open mindedness towards other religions and sex and drugs still expressed such backwards views and attitudes sometimes As for the beauty, the story of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty crossing the US again and again with a last trip down to Mexico City is epic I pictured myself in a Denver bar that night, with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged and like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was Wow P 37 I have driven from Florida to San Francisco by myself and back again when I was in college and felt that Kerouac captured the enthusiasm that the memory still evokes in me I thought, and looked every, as I had looked everywhere in the little world below And before me was the great raw bulge and bulk of my American continent P 79 The descriptions of bebop jazz are absolutely astounding throughout as they listen to Prez, Bird, Dizzy The pianist was only pounding the keys with spread eagled fingers, chords, or at intervals when the great tenorman was drawing breath for another blast Chinese chords, shuddering the piano in every timber, chink, and wire, boing P 197 The writing makes you feel the musics energy pulsating and driving that is one of my favorite aspects of On the Road Holy flowers floating in the air, were all these tired forms in the dawn of Jazz America P 204 Other moments are surreal and yet moments I have known many times Just about that time a strange thing began to haunt me It was this I had forgotten something There was a decision that I was about to make before Dean showed up, and now it was driven clear out of my mind but still hung on the tip of my mind s tongue P 124 Or the feeling of mystery This was a manuscript of the night that we couldn t read P 158 and those that do not share their trip on the road they stand uncertainly underneath immense skies, and everything about them is drowned P 167 I perhaps just ignored it in my previous readings, but this time I was struck by the heroin references Old Bill was off in the bathroom tying up and yet taking care of his kids alarming Perhaps the predominant mood and attitude of the book and Kerouac s view of the period is summarized on Sal s 3rd trip to San Francisco I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn t remember especially because the transitions from life to death and back to life are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it I realized it was only because of the stability of the intrinsic Mind that these ripples of birth and death took place, like the action of wind on a sheet of pure, serene, mirror like water I felt a sweet, swinging bliss like a big shot of heroin in the mainline vein like a gulp of wine late in the afternoon and it makes you shudder my feet tingled P 173 Kerouac captured the spirit of the Beats who would later become the hippies of the 60 s but without the Vietnam War in both its glory and its squalor The book is both beautiful and uplifting and desperate and depressing Regardless of how one reacts to it, it is truly one of the great works of the expression of the American spirit in the post WWII period. 484 On the Road, Jack Kerouac Based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across the United States 2015 1394 388 9789643625245 1395 20 1394 540 9786008211242 1957 Although the ideas hold a certain appeal, this book is ultimately just a half assed justification of some pretty stupid, self destructive, irresponsible, and juvenile tendencies and attitudes, the end result of which is a validation of being a deadbeat loser, a perpetual child This validation is dressed up as a celebration of freedom etc As literary art, stylistically, the book is pretty bad The analogies to bebop or even free jazz are misguided That improvisation was by talented musicians, or at least musicians who understood music, had a remarkable ear Kerouac is just rambling and he thinks that qualifies as the literary equivalent of jazz improv It doesn t It s just tiresome DeLillo s prose is an example of prose thataccurately can be described as analogous to bebop I m not going to hold it against anyone that they like this book I know that it influenced some important and serious artists, who were many times Kerouac s superiors I understand its appeal, and even its historical importance But reading it today, and not being 16 any, it really is a bit of a joke Its importance in itself, too, has faded The Beats live on as myth that surpasses, for the most part, their actual output in both resonance and quality Moreover, their myth has been adapted, especially in popular music, so well that it has rendered a lot of their actual work trivial, especially the lesser Beats in terms of talent , eg Kerouac Nobody needs to read On the Road any, and all it s going to do is perpetuate some pretty idiotic notions we already have enough of, and lead to a lot of ripoffs of ripoffs of Whitman thinking their poetry is important and crowding bars I don t want to have to see them at Just look at contemporary literature, the voices we have, the stuff that s selling well on the literary market A lot of that stuff is just workshop fiction that isn t going to last long in particular well regard, but a lot of it is brilliant stuff, and farliterate, intelligent, and interesting than what this guy had to offer This book s time is up Aside from youth clinging to a false nostalgia for a nonexistent time and place and crowd, its appeal is pretty much done too. Herein lies that gnarly root of the all American Sense of Entitlement Coupling this with Huck Finn as THE quintessential American Novel is One Enormous mistake Twain at least entertains, at least follows through with his intention, with his American take on the Quixotean legend Kerouac might just be the biggest literary quack of the 20th century The book is awkward, structured not as ONE single trip, but composed of a few coast to coast coastings, all having to do with this now overused motif.I despise it Living in Denver, Kerouactown, makes me hate himA tale of a closeted individual who really has nothing to say He has glorified a ruffian DEAN DEAN DEANDEAN whose selfishness sits well with him What Sal does say, however, ever so dully, is just how Cool those around him are, how his only addition to this incomprehensible BEAT movement is as lame as those of a newspaper photographer he sees and reports, jots idle musings down What he fails to understand the main guy is not even YOUNG he is old stupid, desperate pathetic is how entirely false this sense of freedom can be Can a sheep really outwit the shepherd Here is a supreme example of the blind leading I sternly refuse to follow such idiotic drivel This is a book for followers written by a Conformist, for one can always be some selfproclaimed comfortable conformist of nonconformism.Nothing sticks Everything On the Road is transitory, although this works fine in the everyday, in Literature its seen as nothingthan a burden a plotless restlessness to achieve permanence without that crucial element mainly, the artist s virtue of Talent.
Jack Kerouac was born Jean Louis Lebris de Kerouac on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts Jack Kerouac s writing career began in the 1940s, but didn t meet with commercial success until 1957, when On the Road was published The book became an American classic that defined the Beat Generation Kerouac died on October 21, 1969, from an abdominal hemorrhage, at age 47.
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- On the Road
- Jack Kerouac
- 02 August 2019 Jack Kerouac