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On The Road

(Duluoz Legend)

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  361,973 ratings  ·  15,576 reviews
The book that shook America

Jack Kerouac, Hippie Homer of the turned-on generation, shocked the country from coast to coast with this wild Odyssey of two drop-outs who swing across America wrecking and rioting—making it with sex, jazz, and drink as they Make the Scene.
Mass Market Paperback, 254 pages
Published March 1st 1968 by Signet (first published 1955)
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Eric Don't touch it! Read Faulkner or better yet Cormic McCarthy for the stream of consciousness literary style. This has zero character development probab…moreDon't touch it! Read Faulkner or better yet Cormic McCarthy for the stream of consciousness literary style. This has zero character development probably because he wrote it while tripping on acid.
Its a total waste of time (less)
Kris If you are into the beat movement in the USA in the 50's, it's an interesting read. What I took from it was sentences that lasted half a page, a lot o…moreIf you are into the beat movement in the USA in the 50's, it's an interesting read. What I took from it was sentences that lasted half a page, a lot of jumping back and forth and just general annoyance over some of the characters. The book does however portray very well how the Beat movement during that time impacted the people involved, but the endless rambling on and on and repeating himself, associating with horrible people etc. was just too annoying for me.

That being said - I read it because I took a class in Beat art and literature, so I learned a lot from the book too. It has it good parts and its bad, and it also involves a severely narcissistic character which was interesting to read about. But several of my peers have tried to read it and after 30% shelved it for good - but seeing as the book basically is based off Jack Kerouacs notes during his travels it's a challenging read, as the writing style is about the stream of consciousness, wich can be hard to follow. I had to go back several pages whenever I picked it up again just to remember the context.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  361,973 ratings  ·  15,576 reviews

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Sep 29, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fourteen-year-old assholes
Shelves: bad-reads, dicklits
This is probably the worst book I have ever finished, and I'm forever indebted to the deeply personality-disordered college professor who assigned it, because if it hadn't been for that class I never would've gotten through, and I gotta tell you, this is the book I love to hate.

I deeply cherish but don't know that I fully agree with Truman Capote's assessment: that _On the Road_ "is not writing at all -- it's typing."

Lovely, Turman, but let's be clear: typing by itself is fairly innocuous -- thi
Apr 24, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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. In On the Road he 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, ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
A View from the Couch

OTR 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.


Please forgive my review. It is early morning and I have just woken up with a sore head, an empty bed and a full bladder.


Let 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!

Sep 30, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: white heterosexual males
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 o
Jahn Sood
Jun 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 whil
Lala BooksandLala
Read for an Aries inspired vlog ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
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 o ...more
Mark Lawrence
I think this book, which launched Kerouac's career and gave him insta-fame, has to be seen as a product of its time.

I found it a chore to read, a long dull boast about a series of road trips. It's populated by vacuous largely despicable alcoholics with zero impulse control and an unshakeable belief that they are deeply profound observers of the human condition.

One saving grace of the book is that Kerouac has an unusual writing style with a strong voice that he uses well, especially when describi
Ahmad Sharabiani
(484 from 1001) - On the Road, Jack Kerouac

Based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across the United States.

The two main characters of the book are the narrator, Sal Paradise, and his friend Dean Moriarty, much admired for his carefree attitude and sense of adventure, a free-spirited maverick eager to explore all kicks and an inspiration and catalyst for Sal's travels.

The novel contains five parts, three of them describing road trips with Moriarty. The narrative takes place in the yea
May 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Herein lies that gnarly root of our 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 overused motif. ...more
Jan 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prose, 1900-1969
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,
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Katerina by: Eliasdgian
Shelves: 2017-reads, classics
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

I am not really into classics.
I always preferred the fantasy genre, due to an innate escapism, a vivid imagination and a constant longing for magic. But as you may tell, I didn't cast spells while reading On the Road. I didn't climb the dark wizard's tower, nor heard prophecies whispered in the dark. I set my sword aside for a while, and hushed my heart's desire to experience passionate romances. After a dear frie
Meredith Holley
Mar 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meredith by: Erica
Shelves: memoir-biography
The other day I was talking to someone and he said, “Well, I’m no pie expert . . . Wait! No! I am a pie expert. I am an expert at pie!”

Another person asked, “How did you become a pie expert?”

“One time I ate only pie for an entire week. I was driving across the country with my buddies, and we decided to eat only pie.”

“Like Jack Kerouac in On the Road!” I said.

“Yes! Exactly! That’s exactly what we were doing. We were reading On the Road, and we decided he was so smart when he realized pie is the
in september, this book will turn sixty years old! while i do not care for it personally, and the celebration of a couple of self-satisfied pseudo-intellectual doofuses and their buffet-style spirituality traveling across the country, leaving a number of pregnancies in their wake and exploiting underage mexican prostitutes makes me wonder why this book endures, endure it does. so i have made a road trip booklist with less ickiness and more cannibalism. enjoy!
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, library, classic, 2017
This was a 4 star book based on what it represents, the history of the genre, and my enjoyment of travel.

From the get go, this is a stream of consciousness romp through North America. It seems like almost every city in the United States is mentioned at least once as Sal Paradise tells of his travels, the people he meets, those who join him, and his wild vagabond companion Dean Moriarity. I don't feel like the style of this book will appeal to everyone and I can easily see many losing interest p
Mar 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any white man who suffers from first world problems.
Recommended to Anuradha by: that one person who compared this to The Catcher in the Rye.
EDIT: 26/03/2018
I just learnt that Sam and Dean from Supernatural were named after Sal and Dean, and I don't know what to believe in anymore.



ALTERNATE TITLE: White People Problems
ALTERNATE ALTERNATE TITLE: How Many Girls is Too Many Girls?

Why is this a beloved book? I read it for the second time because I thought I was too young to have understood it when I read it the first time. Well, turns out the book is sti
Paul Bryant
Sep 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
You couldn't pay me enough to re-read this baby now. Well, okay, I'd probably do it for £200. Alright, £100. Cash.

Kerouac took over from Steinbeck as the guy I had to read everything by when I was a young person. Steinbeck himself took over from Ray Bradbury. All three American males with a sentimental streak as wide as the Rio Grande.

Whole thing nearly turned me into a weepy hitchhiker who plays saxophone while he waits for a ride, then gets abducted by aliens who are these very kind blue glo
Vit Babenco
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A rolling stone gathers no moss…
Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

Roads weave into a tapestry of life… Roads interlace into a labyrinth… There is no end to them… One can’t reach a finish… One can only stop… Or to be stopped.
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…

There is a time to sow wild oats and a time to reap what was sown…
…there was nothing behind me any more, all my bridges were gone and I didn’
May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I personally can't stand the characters. They cover up irresponsibility and real hurt to people in the guise of being artists. However, I do think there is more to this story.

Sure, they are jerks and they are bums and they are full of a lot of BS but as the book progresses, it becomes clear that they know it. These guys are also WW2 vets, and very dissimilar to the hippies who follow them, they do not have any anti-American or anti-establishment feelings. Also, they show a deep remorse and guilt
Apr 15, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pardon me while I write a scathing review for this book in the style of Kerouac, the Rambler.

I really don't understand why this book is considered a classic. I think of it as nothing more than a diary written by a man who was soused all of the time and whose brain could not understand structure and the unwritten rules of writing. It's incoherent, rambles on for days, and the "style" is distracting and annoying enough that reading even a page makes me yearn to kick somebody's puppy. And I like pu
Jon Nakapalau
This book takes me back to that once in a lifetime summer when you sit with your friends and say "we should just hit the road and let it take us anywhere." Over the years you look back and wonder - can you say that you took the road... "I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." But that difference is already faded; the road is covered over with the autumnal leafs of memory - and it is lost. Jack took that road; and I traveled with him in the spirit of that summer lo ...more
Dave Schaafsma
I read this book when I was 20 and I loved it, it spoke like Truth to my Heart, and every summer I and one or some of my increasingly hairy friends got on the road West, to the Rockies, to the Grand Tetons, to backpack and climb and breathe in for a time the pure air of the West. Freedom, man! Back to Nature, one with Nature. At its best the writing was a celebration of all that is good in life, of love, of intoxications and lusts of various kinds. On the road! Romantic. Ecstatic. 5 stars.

At 30
Nov 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
There are people, I’m quite prepared to admit, that I am more than happy to spend time with – even an entire week if needs be - as long, that is, as they agree to remain within proper and predictable boundaries. And often those boundaries are pretty well fixed by the covers of the book that I find them in. Look, I don’t mind if you don’t wash or you get so drunk or stoned or both that you find yourself fast asleep hanging onto a toilet to make sure you don’t fall off the world. I don’t care if y ...more
Jason Koivu
Apr 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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-
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-novels
I am a firm believer in a checklist for life. This wouldn't be surprising to anyone who knows me, for I am always attempting to enforce order onto chaos. This was my favorite part about college and lawschool; the fact that it broke life into fall semester, Christmas break, spring semester, and summer. It created a marvelous little cycle of struggle and reward.

Life is not necessarily chaotic. However, it is certainly undelineated, uncertain, sprawling, sudden, and unknowable. It is only bounded
Roman Clodia
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2nd read, July 2020

Re-reading this I was far more conscious of a growing sense of disillusion in Sal Paradise as he contemplates Dean Moriarty, the epitome of beat: part holy-man, part con-man, the other side of his free-living, restless life is his lack of reliability which Sal experiences first hand when he's sick and abandoned in Mexico.

Kerouac evokes the mythography of American pioneers and lonesome cowboys ('this road,' I told him, 'is also the route of old American outlaws') even as Sal,
Jul 31, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author William Kirn, in a piece for Slate magazine debating the merits of On The Road, wrote, "It's hard for me to summon any more 'critical distance' toward On the Road than I can toward the shape of my own face or the smell of my own sweat." I feel much the same way. For me, On the Road is inextricable from the time and place that I read it. I was, literally, on the road, looking at colleges in New England during my junior year of high school. I'd borrowed the book from my brand-new-girlfr ...more
Here’s the thing : there’s a time to read Kerouac, and it’s not your thirties. I first read “On the Road” when I was 19 and I loved how meandering and crazy it was… and in retrospect, I know it’s because I was similarly scattered and unhinged. When one’s in that headspace, it’s natural to appreciate that there’s a classic out there that captures the sort of spontaneous madness that most people only experience in the first half of their twenties. I re-read it when I was twenty-two, and I still th ...more
Eimhear (A Little Haze)
Mar 25, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My fellow masochists who have to read the classics simply *because*
Recommended to Eimhear (A Little Haze) by: my terrible masochistic reading habits after reading Anu's review

Can I request a lobotomy please? Something to chase this utter mess of a novel from my brain, rid my memory of this painful reading experience.

I mean I should have known better than to read this after reading Anu's fabulous review but well.... I'm one of those people that will read any book that is on any of those 100 books to read before you die type lists so I don't regret reading this because I can always say I have read Kerouac now.

BTW click here to read Anu's brilliant review which
Maclain Rigdon
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I was in school at the Merchant Marine Academy. I was nineteen years old; a Georgia boy. I had no business being there. The deal at the academy is that you do six months of your Sophomore year and six months of your Junior years at sea. At least that’s how it used to be. I hear they are on trimesters now. Who knows? Anyway, it was this sea year that attracted me to the school in the first place.

So I’m nineteen, heavy boozer, balls to the walls so to speak. I was coming unhinged having to deal wi
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Reading the 20th ...: On the Road (1957) by Jack Kerouac (July 2020) 113 38 Oct 07, 2020 09:07AM  
Memory of Al. 2 13 Aug 06, 2020 09:38AM  
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Guardian Newspape...: On The Road - August 2019 18 17 Aug 09, 2019 07:40PM  
Reading 1001: On the Road by Jack Kerouac 3 19 Jul 22, 2019 06:07PM  

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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.


Other books in the series

Duluoz Legend (1 - 10 of 14 books)
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  • Visions of Gerard
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  • The Town and the City
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  • Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46
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“[...]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” 11194 likes
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” 2670 likes
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