I was skeptical about this book at the begining, really for the first hundred pages. It seemed to me at first that Jake was just a lonely guy who refu...moreI was skeptical about this book at the begining, really for the first hundred pages. It seemed to me at first that Jake was just a lonely guy who refused to do anything about it, in love with the wrong girl and nothing really happened besides that. It was no Moby Dick, no adventure, no strangeness at all. It was just a really simple look at a normal person's life. That didn't cut it at first, but then I realized that it really hits the intensities of everyday life and friendships and the entire social system that forms when different people come together. It really made me rethink some of my relationships and the things that made me angry about other people, and hurt by them. I think that Hemingway sees social interation as a crazy battle or a proverbial bull-fight in this case. It was full of sad, sad people who just go at eachother over this one shocking and beautiful girl, drinking away everything and trying to get by. It turned out to be really meaningful to me in the end.
Also, aside from the emotional stuff of this book, it made me start dreaming about Europe and the American artist-expatriate scene in the 20s...really cool stuff. I made me want to spend a couple of years writing in Paris. Also, all of the bull fighting fiestas in Pamplona made me interested in going to Spain for the first time after years of choosing Latin America over Spain without thought...I mean, I would still rather see more Latin America than Spain, but it sparked an interest in me in a big way. OH THE WORLD!!(less)
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 a...moreI'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 beat...not 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 history...they 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.(less)
I'm not sure that this book lived up to the thousands of recomendations that I got to read it. It is very beautiful, many of the lines are great, but...moreI'm not sure that this book lived up to the thousands of recomendations that I got to read it. It is very beautiful, many of the lines are great, but as a whole, it seems like a sort of ode to indecision. Maybe I didn't take enough time with it, but seemed to me to be so heavily focussed on balance and contradictions that it didn't make any extreme proclamations. Maybe balance is more real than that which is self-glorifying, but I just wasn't as moved as I wanted to be. Maybe at a different time in my life I would have soaked this up. Then again, I read this book in a car with loud music playing after recovering only half way from the flu, so I might have been biased and unnecesarily bitter and disbelieving. My reaction might also be coming off Thoreau which is beautiful to read, but also has intense philosophy behind it. I think this book is more like looking at something beautiful but not particularly deep. Philosophical porn, if you will. I bet that will offend the people that really take it seriously. Shit, that isn't my intention. I think I will take the book back to maine and re-read it there on a mountain or on the beach and think about it in that context and then maybe it will have a deeper effect...if I ever make it back to maine. I hope so.(less)
I put a longer review of this book / a journal entry that I wrote while I was reading it in "my writing" since it was too long for this page.
6.9.07 Nau...moreI put a longer review of this book / a journal entry that I wrote while I was reading it in "my writing" since it was too long for this page.
6.9.07 Nausea is not a good thing to have as the only thing that belongs to you, and even worse as the only thing that you belong to. It is sickening and dark and so terribly everyday that it gets inside you if you let it. Sartre writes beautifully and describes the physical world in such incredible detail, that if you are a reader, and even more if you are a writer, you want to keep going and never put it down, but if you are not emotionally stable enough to handle the fact that you might have done nothing but existing, don't read this book. If you are jaded by love don't read this book. If you almost lost your self in desire, don't read this book. Probably nobody should read this book. Then again, if you are like me and obsessed with words and the art that comes from darkness and the study of lonliness, then this is a work of genius. Its beautifully written, terrifying and intense. So go ahead, but at your own risk, and when you freak the hell out, don't tell anyone that it was me who recommended that you mess with Sartre. (less)