Jason Koivu's Reviews > On the Road

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
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Apr 29, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in July, 2012

They're just good ol' boys never meaning no harm, making their way the only way they know how, but that's just a bit more than the law will allow...

The characters of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac's On the Road are 20th Century equivalents of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer: boys having joyous American adventures. Sal and Dean trip (in more ways than one) back and forth from the east coast to the west, and down south even as far as Mexico, always looking to get their kicks. It's a free-flowing good time perfectly delivered in Kerouac's jazzy beat style.

Most of the book follows their ultimate liberation, psycho-philosophical, free-wheeling adventures bumming rides, seeing the country, scoring weed and drink, making it with real gone girls, and getting meaningless jobs along the way to further their desire to go farther, always farther. Only problem is, Sal and Dean are based on real boys. Oh sure, On the Road is called a fiction, but it is absolutely based on real occurrences and people, so much so that Kerouac had to be dissuaded by his publisher to print their real names. Sal is Kerouac himself and Dean is his friend Neal Cassady, an essentially motherless delinquent "raised" by an alcoholic and mostly absent father. Dean/Neal, a hyper lover of life, seemed to be a manic prophet, the words and ways of which Sal/Jack was happy to follow. So when these boys steal all manner of things (including cars) or shack up and knock up women only to inevitably leave them time and again for the road, one can't help but marvel at their unconscionable irresponsibility. It smacks heavily of nothing more that having fun at the expense of others. There's only so much hedonism you can take before you have to step back and ask, what's the point?
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Richard Derus Today? Not much point. Then? Revolution!

It's a book of its time, and it will sink into oblivion over the years.


message 2: by Wendy (new)

Wendy I love the Dukes of Hazzard reference. :)


Jason Koivu Wendy wrote: "I love the Dukes of Hazzard reference. :)"

That was a favorite of mine when it was on. That and the Gong Show. Pretty cerebral stuff!


message 4: by Nefariousbig (new)

Nefariousbig Maybe more like this: http://youtu.be/Eh_9NY56Sxw


Jason Koivu Frances wrote: "Maybe more like this: http://youtu.be/Eh_9NY56Sxw"

Hey, don't you Rush me!


message 6: by Wendy (new)

Wendy MASH, WKRP in Cincinnati, St. Elsewhere .. nostalgia TV.


Jason Koivu Luckily, All In The Family came along and gave me at least a bit of morality to go along with the hi-jinks.


Becca Ayers Interesting parallel to draw between Dean and Huck Finn. It enlightened me to how similar they are; both with deadbeat dads. I suppose I just forgive Huck more, however, because his adventure seems to be more about survival than Dean's. Still and all, I like the parallel and know that we are all just products of our generations, childhoods and the expectations of gender in our time. I agree with you that Dean is a sad character and a bad friend and, although he represented freedom to a generation of male youths, he just makes me depressed in my time.
Great review, thanks!


Jason Koivu Becca wrote: "Interesting parallel to draw between Dean and Huck Finn. It enlightened me to how similar they are; both with deadbeat dads. I suppose I just forgive Huck more, however, because his adventure seem..."

Thanks Becca!

I think forgiving Huck his transgressions is easier too because he's still a boy and should be allowed some leeway. Dean is a big boy and should know better.


Arnie Really good review. I also liked the Huck comparison.


Jason Koivu Arnie wrote: "Really good review. I also liked the Huck comparison."

Thanks, Arnie, I appreciate that.


message 12: by David (new) - added it

David Sarkies Great review, as usual. I didn't think about comparing it with Huck and Tom, but you certainly have a point there. Maybe it isn't the first road trip.


Jason Koivu David wrote: "Great review, as usual. I didn't think about comparing it with Huck and Tom, but you certainly have a point there. Maybe it isn't the first road trip."

Thanks, David


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