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Duluoz Legend

On the Road

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Few novels have had as profound an impact as On the Road, and Kerouac's vision continues to inspire: three generations of writers, musicians, artists, and poets cite their discovery of On the Road as the event that "set them free." On the Road chronicles Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent, from East Coast to West Coast to Mexico, with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West." As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty, " the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

310 pages, Paperback

First published September 5, 1957

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About the author

Jack Kerouac

240 books9,866 followers
Autobiographical novels, such as On the Road (1957) and The Dharma Bums (1958), of American writer Jack Kerouac, originally Jean-Louis Kerouac, embody the values of the Beat Generation.

Career of Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac began in the 1940s but met not with commercial success until 1957, when people published On the Road. The book, an American classic, defined the Beat Generation. Kerouac died from an abdominal hemorrhage.


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5 stars
101,590 (26%)
4 stars
121,630 (31%)
3 stars
99,622 (25%)
2 stars
44,998 (11%)
1 star
20,102 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 17,766 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica.
593 reviews3,395 followers
January 8, 2014
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 -- this book is so awful it's actually offensive, and even incredibly damaging.

I'd be lying if I said there aren't parts of this book that're so bad they're good -- good as in morbidly fascinating, in the manner of advanced-stage syphilis slides from seventh-grade health class. Keroac's ode to the sad-eyed Negro is actually an incredible, incredible example of.... something I'm glad has been typed. For the record. So we can all see it clearly, and KNOW.

Please don't get me wrong! My disproportionately massive loathing for Jack Kerouac has zero to do with his unenlightened racial views. I mean, it was written in the fifties, and anyway, it's great that he was able to articulate these ideas so honestly. No, the real reason I hate this book so much is that it established a deeply retarded model of European-American male coolness that continues to plague our culture today.

I could go into a lot more depth on this topic, but it's come to my attention that I've been using my horrible addiction to Bookster to avoid the many obligations and responsiblities of my daily life, to which I should now return. So, in closing: this book SUCKS. This book is UNBELIEVABLY TERRIBLE. And for that very reason, especially considering its serious and detrimental impact on western civilization, I definitely recommend that you read it, if you have not suffered that grave misfortune already.
Profile Image for Adam.
253 reviews203 followers
April 25, 2007
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, solipsistic alcoholic) feels, and nothing more. But 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.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
849 reviews2,086 followers
December 4, 2013
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!

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 Bar

I 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 Writing

Forget 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 Symbols

You 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 Sausage

OK, your impressions are probably more recent 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 Ephemerality

I 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 Cool

Creativity 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
Profile Image for Samadrita.
295 reviews4,461 followers
October 9, 2013
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 reading 'On the Road'. Oh 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 much more interesting 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 tolerate.
"There 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 Alabama."

Seriously? 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 following:-
"...I had been attending school and romancing around with a girl called Lucille, a beautiful Italian honey-haired darling that I actually wanted to marry"

Look at Sal talking about a woman as if she were a breed of cat he wanted to rescue from the animal shelter.
"Finally he came out with it: he wanted me to work Marylou."

Is Marylou a wrench or a machine of some kind?

And this is not to mention the countless instances of 'get you a girl', 'get girls', 'Let's get a girl' and 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.
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 51 books50.5k followers
September 20, 2022
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 describing the landscapes and cities as his avatar rushes to and fro across America.

The other is that the 'shocking' nature of the book back in 1955, immersed in drugs, alcohol, and sexuality, five years before a court case finally allowed the rather tame Lady Chatterly's Lover to be published in the UK, 32 years after it was written, has been replaced with a certain historical interest in the modern reader seeing how things worked over 60 years ago.

The book garnered so much interest because it was said to capture zeitgeist of the beat generation - it variously explained and/or titillated with an under the hood look at the youth movement of the late 40s/early 50s that led into rock and roll and on into hippydom. We also see the young white male characters mixing with African Americans and Hispanics decades before the civil rights movement.

Kerouac's avatar, Sal Paradise, follows Dean Moriarty, a hollow messiah of the age, and together they haunt jazz and bop clubs trying to capture "it" and waxing ecstatically about saxophonists blowing.

We see several years of the pair's directionless lives, Dean oscillating between three women, spawning and abandoning children, dropping everything repeatedly on a whim to cross America east to west or back again, and finally to Mexico City.

The pair cheat and steal their way while claiming to savour the goodness of those they encounter. Dean has to be warned off the 13 year old daughter of a friend, and later in Mexico they sleep with 15 year old prostitutes.

In a manner familiar in Dickens and Dostoevsky, and more recently echoed by Rothfuss, our characters are always penniless, generally because if they get money they spend it at a ridiculous rate until they have none.

Dean and Sal are characterised by a refusal to look beyond the next hour. The consequences of their actions are of little concern to them because they feel no responsibility for them.

I realise that I sound like a scolding schoolmarm, the epitome of everything this book was likely a reaction to. But after hundreds of pages of having their reaction forced down my throat I have my own reaction back against it. No, I don't dig it.

And it being a travelogue based on real experience there is of course no plot and as it turns out no real sense of progression, which led to the book feeling rather samey after a while. It was apparently hand written on a roll of wallpaper and it really does feel rather like a long list of "and then and then and then".

I was moved to try Kerouac back in the 80s by a line in a Marillion song, "read some Kerouac and it put me on the track to burn a little brighter now". Yes, this is a book about living at full throttle (and much of it is spent shooting across the States at 110mph), about burning the candle at both ends, about not living a milk toast life, it shouts at you "what are you saving yourself for?" and those ideas of course hold a certain appeal. But then again, when you look at the sad sacks in this book ... maybe not.

The second star is for the quality of the prose. In fact both of them are.

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Profile Image for Jahn Sood.
8 reviews78 followers
August 13, 2007
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 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.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 2 books5,409 followers
October 11, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.5k followers
August 19, 2021
(Book 484 from 1001 1001 books) - 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 Dean Moriarty.

The narrative takes place in the years 1947 to 1950, is full of Americana, and marks a specific era in jazz history, "somewhere between its Charlie Parker Ornithology period and another period that began with Miles Davis."

The novel is largely autobiographical, Sal Paradise being the alter ego of the author and Dean Moriarty standing for Neal Cassady.

عنوانها: «در جاده»؛ «در راه»؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روزبیست و یکم ماه نوامبر سال 2015میلادی

عنوان: در راه؛ نویسنده: جک کرواک؛ مترجم: احسان نوروزی؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، 1394؛ در 388ص؛ شابک 9789643625245؛ چاپ دوم سال1395؛ چاپ هفتم 1399؛ در 392ص؛ موضوع زندگینامه و سرگذشتنامه از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

عنوان: در جاده؛ نویسنده: جک کرواک؛ مترجم: یاشین آزادبیگی؛ تهران، کوله پشتی، 1394؛ در 540ص؛ شابک 9786008211242؛

کتاب، در سال 1957میلادی، برای نخستین بار، توسط «وایکینگ پرس» منتشر شد؛ عنوانش، جزو یکصد کتاب سده ی بیستم میلادی، به گزینش بسیاری از روزنامه ها بوده، خودزندگی‌نامه‌ نوشت است، و حاصل تجربیات «کرواک»، در دیدار با مردمِان سرتاسر «آمریکا» است؛ روایت سفر «اودیسه­» وار جوانی، به نام «سالواتوره پارادایز (سل، سلی)» است، نویسنده ­ای که پس از جدایی از همسرش، سرخورده، و افسرده، بر آن میشود، تا دلش را به دست جاده­ های «آمریکا» بسپارد، و می­کوشد از آنراه، مفهومی برای زندگی پوچ خویش، بیابد؛ در راه، با جوانی کوچکتر از خویش، به نام «دین موریارتی» آشنا می­شود، و تحت تاثیر دیوانه­ بازی­ها، و مرام آشوب­گرانه ی­ او، قرار می­گیرد؛ «دین موریارتی» نیز، در لابلای آن همه هیاهو، هدفی مهم­تر دارد، و آن، یافتنِ پدر گمشده ی خویش است، که با نام «دین موریارتیِ پیر»، از او یاد می­شود

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 30/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 27/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,374 reviews3,186 followers
June 17, 2021
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’t give a damn about anything at all.

Every young generation has their own locus of romance and high hopes. And every new generation has its own roads to travel.
Profile Image for Fabian.
933 reviews1,525 followers
November 18, 2020
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.

I despise it. (Living in Denver, Kerouactown, makes me hate him more!) A tale of a closeted individual who really has nothing to say. He has glorified a ruffian (DEAN DEAN DEAN... DEAN!) 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's 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 nothing more than a burden: a plotless restlessness to achieve permanence without that crucial element: mainly, the artist's virtue of Talent.
422 reviews164 followers
July 4, 2012
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 that more accurately 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 anymore, 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 anymore, 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 far more literate, 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.
Profile Image for سيد محمد .
271 reviews400 followers
January 21, 2023
الآن لست محتاجا لاوراق النقاد وتنظيرات الأكاديميين وإجراءات التطببقيبن
تحتاج فقط ورقة خضراء
تلتقطها يدك من غصن ينتظر نظرتك
يمنحك قطعة من نفسه
لانه رآك مقطوعا من شجرة مثله
ومثل الأقلام الرصاص الكثيرة التي تركت في يدك خطوطها
على الطريق
لجاك كيرواك
وتدرك معنى الرحلة والحب والصداقة والموسيقى
ترى الشوارع التي رسمت خطواتك عليها مسارك
الشمس التي استخرجت منك ظلك
البحر الذي أنطبعت عليه أمسيات قمرك
أنفاس الأشجار والنيل واحجار البيوت
نسائم العصر في العصور كلها
شباك الصالة المفتوح على الحارة
أصوات باعة تمر النخيل السامق والطماطم المجنونة والكنافة التي تتشرب شربات أصابع الأمهات
شراعة الباب وإيقاع خطوات رضا على السلم
بنات مدرسة التجارة وأصابعهن تضرب حروف الآلات الكاتبة
وروايات محفوظ
وصوت سمير يناديك لتنضم لفريق أرض الغنام
َمشوار ميت عقبة لمشاهدة تدريبات الزمالك
ساندويتشات فول مطعم دقة
مكتبة شارع العلمين
مسرحيات قصور الثقافة على مسرح السامر
وعرض فرقة رضا في البالون
صحابك بأصواتهم المنغمة الضاحكة وهي تنطق الأسماء المستعارة
حديقة سفنكس والشطرنج الصغير
أحاديث رياض الصالحين بعد صلاة الفجر
صاجات الكعك المكتوب عليها أسماء الأسرة والجيران
صوت عبد الحليم يقول مخاطبا الليل في موعود
ياللي شفت في عنيا الدموع وانا دايما راجع وحيد
ترى لحظات تكوينك بين السطور
أجمل الروايات هي التي نقرأ فيها قصتنا بالتوازي مع متخيل الفن
تطبيقات السرد رائعة
وأكثر عبقرية من آلات الزمن في الخيال العلمي
تنقلك في الأزمنة والأَمكنة
تستجمع نفسك المتناثرة
تبتسم لك احبة كانت هنا وستظل
تحفظ لك صداقات صافية
تتخذ من نسيجها صورا لاعماق شخصيات لم ترها بعد
تضيف لرصيد شحنك الإنساني
جاك كيرواك يحكي
على الطريق
وانت تدخل دهاليز تفاصيل حواديت تاريخك
بريق جواهر المغارة يوقظ نجوم رحلتك
عمق الثواني
موسيقى البلوز وإيقاع الحياة الإفريقية يكتب نوتة الشجن في صخب القارة الجديدة
سليم جايلارد يغني كما يتنفس المختنقين من دمار الحروب في استراحة سلام يتمنون ان يعم العالم
الذكريات التي ترفض الاندثار في صناديق المدن
كل واحد له طريقه
لكن طرفنا تلتقي
تمد أياديهأ بالسلام
تستضيف الطرق بعضها بعضا
تسمح للارض الغريبة بالمرور
الطرق شخصيات لها حكايات
مثل فضل الله عثمان
رواية على الطريق لجاك كيرواك
تفتح بابا بالطول والعرض
لمحبة الناس والأماكن والأشياء الصغيرة والوقت الجميل
وفيها رحلة البحث عن الأب
لنصل قصتنا بالتاريخ
سنوات عالمنا تتكثف في السرد
دوران النجوم والكواكب في المجرة
وماكينة الطباعة ترص الأحداث في شارع الصفحات
وهوامش بالمشاعر لم يرها أحد
حروف تتفتح في رياض الحكايات
ساعات ثوانيها سنوات جميلة
إنها فيزياء الفن
أفضية متشعبة من العمر
لقلوب أخذتها طرق بعيدة
والراوي حلم
معلق بسهر الأحبة
يقص آثارهم
في رواية طريق
في ورقة نقد بفصل السرد تكتب رواية الطريق نفسها بوصفها نوع أدبي، ترى العالم من منظور الحركة، تقنية عاكسة للثقافة الأمريكية المنطلقة بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية في طرق الحياة
Profile Image for Baba.
3,503 reviews725 followers
December 5, 2021
Out-of-kilter writer Sal Paradise sort of worships Dean Moriarty, a traveller and an almost mystic-like man who epitomises the 'Beat Generation'; this is the story of their friendship mostly focussed on their journeys across America (east to west, and west to east), their and their fellow travellers' escapades; and the personal growth that they may or may not go through. A roman a clef work that is essentially a quasi-autobiographical take on the American Dream from a non-conventional perspective drenched in sexual comedy, almost widescreen-like travel writing, counter-culture, and evocative recollections of growing up (in America).

Neal Cassady(L) and Jack Kerouac(R)
A book that drips with lyrical writing that feels almost like a 300+ paged unstoppable juggernaut that once entered, enveloped me in what (in 2021?) feels like almost a constructed reality, despite it being drafted from the pages of Kerouac's diaries and notes, and based heavily upon his relationships and times with the likes of Neal Cassady, William S Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. It's a bit of a cliché to say, but I do feel that this book has such a prominent place in 20th century American culture that everyone should read it. 7 out of 12, because after awhile the stories and adventures as 'out there' as they were, did feel a bit repetitive.

2021 read
Profile Image for Meredith Holley.
Author 2 books2,196 followers
July 16, 2011
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 best solution when you’re traveling and have no money.”

“He ‘knew it was nutritious, and of course delicious.’”

“Yes! It has all of the food groups - especially if you have it with ice cream." He paused. "Except pie isn’t as filling as you would think it would be, so we had to drink a lot of beer to make up for that. And we ate a lot of multi-vitamins because we felt terrible. We would stop and camp out by the road, eating pie and drinking beer with multi-vitamins.

“We got to my girlfriend’s house, and we looked like shit. We hadn’t shaved and we had the pie sweats. But, it made me an expert at pie.”

“mmmm, pie.”

Other than his advice about pie, I find Jack Kerouac to be one of those useless, narcissistic, cult-leader types. He’s pretty hot, though, and he does have correct opinions about pie.
Profile Image for karen.
3,968 reviews170k followers
August 5, 2017
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!

Profile Image for Katerina.
420 reviews16.7k followers
February 7, 2017
“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 friend's raving about Jack Kerouac, I succumbed to peer pressure. And I am rather glad that I did.
“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”

If you must know one thing about On the Road, is that it doesn't stand out because of its mind-blowing plot. In fact, it is not a plot-driven novel at all. You follow Jack Kerouac's travels throughout America and Mexico, and that's it. What captivates you is his writing style, a writing style the likes of which I had never encountered. You'll notice a plethora of contradictions: it can be lyrical and so beautiful it makes you hold your breath, and want to absorb every detail, every smell and sound and feeling, and then you'll come across so many traces of oral speech, that you're certain you're listening to a conversation full of curse words and half-finished sentences right next to you; you can sense Kerouac's admiration towards his country and at the same time his bitterness and disappointment; you can feel his loneliness to your marrow, and then the camaraderie that keeps him going. You will find your lips curling into a smile, but then a heaviness will settle on your chest, a near sadness because you see those people searching for something, anything, and when they find it, it slips from their fingers. You contemplate your own morality and mortality, question the meaning of ideals when life is too short and full of misery. When the road lies ahead full of possibilities, and you're lost and bound and torn.
“Because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars...”

When you read On the Road, at first you're a little judgmental towards the characters. But as the story progresses, you are envious of their carelessness, their crazy and wild abandon, their desire to live even when they don't know what they live for. You don't read it for the plot, but you read it for its moments, its vigorous, bright and mesmerising moments, mornings eating apple-pie with ice-cream, dirty streets in an alcohol frenzy, a young man on the top of a mountain with the world at his feet, a mexican brothel shaking by the sounds of mambo, cold nights drinking scotch under a crystal clear sky. In the end, it all comes to one thing: we are the sum of the people we meet. Some of them are destined to change us, draw us to them like moths to the flame. Other pass by like fleeting stars, or constitute a constant and reassuring presence. But all of them, without exception, are pieces of the puzzle of our existence.
“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!”

And this is On the Road.
Profile Image for Anu.
364 reviews883 followers
March 21, 2022
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. It turns out the book is still not good, and Jack Kerouac is still an asshole. For the past three days, I've been opening this edit box and closing it. Because honestly, I couldn't bear the thought of going through my notes, my notes filled with Kerouac's insipid, yet simultaneously aggravating thoughts. I mean, I did read this twice! Two whole times. That's a lot of hours I'll never get back. Nevertheless, I stopped procrastinating, and decided that like ripping a band aid, it's best I get done with this as quickly as possible. Because after this, I'm never touching this book again. Fuck this book.

There are books that I dislike because of the language. There are books that I dislike because they're too cheesy. There's books that I think are too good or too bad to be true and so I dislike them too. Then there are books like this that I dislike, because seriously, what the fuck was the writer thinking? It reads like nothing more than an ode to his superior intelligence, his friends' superior intelligence, and their collective "intellectual and sexual prowess". Fuck this book.

I really don't like stereotypes. I try consciously to not stereotype. But this book could only and only have been written by a White, heterosexual male. Actually, make that American, White, heterosexual male. I mean, anyone who says that the millennial generation is self-obsessed should be asked to read this book. Never have I read a book so complacent, so self-centered. Honestly, no one thinks Sal (Jack) and his friends are the pinnacle of intellectual evolution more than Sal and his friends. What makes it worse is Sal's constant undermining of his own intelligence, which very plainly looks like he's trying to talk about how smart he is without sounding like an idiot. Emphasis on "trying", because by god, does he fail miserably at it. Fuck this book.

It could've been funny, maybe even a little charming. But Kerouac all spends his time trying to build up this aura of intellect, only for it collapse on itself inelegantly. How anyone could idolise Dean Moriarty is beyond me. He is nothing more than a self-serving egomaniac (and nymphomaniac) who would probably pimp out his mother for a bottle of whiskey and a pack of Parliaments. The problem is, I've actually met people who're as bad, and the end result is nowhere as literarily perfect as it is in this book. Fuck this book.

Don't even get me started on the portrayal of the female characters in this book. Because there is no "portrayal", really. Despite his claims of having been with more women than I can count on my fingers, Sal's understanding of women is painfully pedestrian. On reading the description of the women in this book, I can only conclude that these characters were written by an alien ghostwriter who had a very vague idea of what women actually were. They are reduced to caricatures of what someone else must have described as "women". They're either whores or prudes. Easy or difficult. Hot or fat. In Sal, and in fact, his friends' eyes, women exist to satisfy their sexual needs. Worse still, women are okay with being reduced to mere sexual objects. Never have I seen a man so tone-deaf about what women are since Henry VIII created a new religion to satisfy his sexual appetite. Fuck this book.

I say in many books that it is me, and not the book. Here, it is the book. The combination of smug intellectual superiority, and utter and total disregard for anyone who isn't white, heterosexual, or male makes this book truly one of the worst I've read. There is the unnecessary glorification of criminal acts, of ruffians, of drugs, of addiction, of sex; gratuitous idolisation of people one really shouldn't be idolsing. Kerouac perhaps pulled off perhaps the world's greatest literary scam in getting this book published. It isn't great in any way. I don't even think it is truly representative of Beat Culture. Kerouac should've just stuck to naming the Beat Generation and left the writing to his friends. That is truly a better contribution to literature than this awful book. Considering this book a Great American Novel would be trivialising the contribution of America to the world of literature. FUCK. THIS. BOOK.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,099 reviews1,586 followers
May 4, 2021

Jack Kerouac=John Heard, Neal Cassady=Nick Nolte, Carolyn Cassady=Sissy Spacek. Il film è del 1980, diretto da John Byrum e si chiama “Heart Beat”.

Letto da adolescente conteneva la voglia di movimento e cambiamento che era in me. La rabbia e la ribellione. La gioventù e l’amore.
Parlava la mia lingua, parlava a me direttamente. Era quello che avrei voluto sentir dire ai miei amici, e quello che avrei voluto dire ai miei amici.
Fu uno shock. Un trauma molto bello e piacevole.

-Dobbiamo andare e non fermarci finché non siamo arrivati.
-Dove andiamo?
-Non lo so, ma dobbiamo andare.

Fu vera gloria?
Non lo so. Allora, in quegli anni, subito dopo questo ne feci seguire un altro paio di Kerouac – ricordo Big Sur perché ero affascinato dal nome e dal luogo. Mai ritrovata la stessa voce, la stessa musica.
Negli anni a seguire ho incontrato tante voci che di Kerouac si facevano beffe: un personaggio, più che uno scrittore, dicevano.
Non lo so. Mi tengo l’amore per questo libro e per ciò che per me ha rappresentato: il battito del cuore. Heart Beat.

”On the Road” di Walter Salles, 2012. Dove Sal Paradise/Jack Kerouac è Sam Riley, Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady è Garrett Hedlund, e Kristen Stewart interpreta Marylou.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,099 reviews1,586 followers
August 3, 2021

Jack Kerouac=John Heard, Neal Cassady=Nick Nolte, Carolyn Cassady=Sissy Spacek. Il film è del 1980, diretto da John Byrum e si chiama “Heart Beat”.

Letto da adolescente conteneva la voglia di movimento e cambiamento che era in me. La rabbia e la ribellione. La gioventù e l’amore.
Parlava la mia lingua, parlava a me direttamente. Era quello che avrei voluto sentir dire ai miei amici, e quello che avrei voluto dire ai miei amici.
Fu uno shock. Un trauma molto bello e piacevole.

-Dobbiamo andare e non fermarci finché non siamo arrivati.
-Dove andiamo?
-Non lo so, ma dobbiamo andare.

Fu vera gloria?
Non lo so. Allora, in quegli anni, subito dopo questo ne feci seguire un altro paio di Kerouac – ricordo Big Sur perché ero affascinato dal nome e dal luogo. Mai ritrovata la stessa voce, la stessa musica.
Negli anni a seguire ho incontrato tante voci che di Kerouac si facevano beffe: un personaggio, più che uno scrittore, dicevano.
Non lo so. Mi tengo l’amore per questo libro e per ciò che per me ha rappresentato: il battito del cuore. Heart Beat.

”On the Road” di Walter Salles, 2012. Dove Sal Paradise/Jack Kerouac è Sam Riley, Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady è Garrett Hedlund, e Kristen Stewart interpreta Marylou.
Profile Image for J-Sin.
25 reviews1 follower
April 20, 2011
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 puppies. But I don't like Kerouac at all and my dislike of his work makes me want to strike infant canines with the toe of my size 13 Nikes. Maybe I'll write an entire book with no formatting and make it equally as boring. Yes, that's what I'll do. I'll write a book about nothing really. It will be one giant meandering paragraph with more pages than a David Foster Wallace novel about lots of Jest. Just thoughts about things like peanut butter, soap (liquid and bar), peacocks (pretty bird, you cannot fly), Darwinism, toilet paper (2 and 3 ply), Jesus, telephones, french fries, 25 pound paper, paperweights, weightlifters, jeans (only blue), Kerouac fans (as if they exist. I think it's become fashionable to claim to be a Kerouac fan even though the fans' faux-understanding is nothing more than an absurdity). Yeah, I said it - this book sucks. A lot. More than you could possibly fathom.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,743 reviews635 followers
November 11, 2022
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 long ago.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,681 followers
July 9, 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 part way in. But, if you are a fan of travelling in America, a scholar of literary genres, a hipster, and/or grew up in the 50s travelling the great American highways before interstates, you will find something in here for you.

There is also a lot of jazz influence in the writing. Several times the writing comes to a stop for an onomatopoedic side trip to a jazz club. This was especially interesting as I was listening to the audio.

Dean Moriarity - if nothing else, this book is worth it for Dean. The fact that Dean was based on a real person (Kerouac's friend Neal Cassady) makes his hijinks and destructive personality even more interesting. I am sure that he is a character that is idolized by some who read this, which is a bit scary! (Reminds me of those who idolize Alexander Supertramp from Into the Wild)

An interesting thing that happened while listening to this is twice I thought "this is reminding me of Hemingway" and less than a minute later, Hemingway is mentioned. It really reminded me of The Sun Also Rises and Wkipedia mentions that Kerouac did intentionally use the style of that book for On The Road.

Finally, as mentioned above, Kerouac based this on his life While listed as fiction, up until the final draft, the main characters had real names. The draft the Kerouac used was on long scroll without formatting or paragraph breaks. I mentioned the jazz influence and Kerouac apparently used the scroll in this way to mimic improvisational jazz. Sometimes the scroll can be seen on display - see photo below:

All in all a very interesting book with very interesting characters and a very interesting history.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,161 reviews9,018 followers
January 17, 2011
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 globes, I know it sounds crazy, blue globes, right, & who take him back to 1922 where he persuades the boss of the local fruit farm syndicate to double the workers' wages and build a school.
Profile Image for Lostinanovel.
144 reviews18 followers
May 6, 2008
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 over their actions. There is a shame, because they recognize what jerks they are. After several weeks of living with the mexican girl and her son, the narrator deserts her and he knows that he'll never live up to his promise to come back. He hates himself for this but it doesn't stop him. While he so desperately seeks to squeeze the wonder out of life, he lets everything really beautiful-such as love with a woman or any real human relationships slip from his careless grasp. The narrator as more of a terribly sad man, not just a happy-go-lucky thrill seker.

I do wonder about the real life Dean Moriarty. Did you realize that he was the bus driver in Wolfe's Electric Kool-aid Acid Test as well as mentioned in several Grateful Dead songs? Something about that guy really insprired the artisits around him.

As for the writing, it is beautiful and I think some of the best writing ever done about America. Googgle "On the Road Quotes" and reread a few of those. Its beautiful stuff.
Profile Image for Mark  Porton.
350 reviews290 followers
June 9, 2022
Sorry I feel a bit embarrassed, in some ways, but okay with my decision to DNF. I know this is a classic but.....I had no connection to the people, absolutely none, nor the places. I know it's a special book....but this one isn't for me. A bunch of hoons running around America. 🙁
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.2k followers
July 3, 2018
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 I read it again to see if it was still vibrant and relevant and happy to be all alive. I was looking for a touchstone, spinning out of control, recently divorced, directionless, had bought (what I thought was, for no clear reason) a hot car, spent money I didn't have on a cool stereo system, started to live and drink and drive faster and faster. I had been teaching at that point eight years; My life was in a crisis of my own making. I was deeply disappointed in myself as what I read in the writing not only didn't reinforce my bad choices but reflected on my own excesses and mistakes and sadness; I found the writing turgid, narcissistic, badly edited, somewhat misogynist, drunken wastrel prose, though I saw better this time in it the deep sadness underlying the wild surface. I thought it was writing of a certain time in your life, but when you grow up you leave those childish things behind. I tried to get my life together and went to grad school. On the road, eh. I had found it in some ways juvenile and about selfish individualism this time, mine and his. 2 stars.

At 60 I am in my 38th year of teaching, now in my happy third marriage, with five kids I feel I am lucky to have and be able to support who all still love me. I am happy to be alive and healthy. I survived some very rocky years when much worse might have ensued. So when I took a road trip with my friend George to see my friend Corey in Boston and see Fenway Park, a bucket list item, we had a blast (notwithstanding a poem I wrote about it that makes fun of all the high expectations amidst all the rain). Loved the trip. We visited Kerouac's gravesite in Lowell and in the mist of the day hovered over George's IPhone to listen to Kerouac's own voice reading his words from "October in the Railroad Earth."


The prose I find on my third reading is poetic, deeply committed to working class and democratic values, and a celebration of life. When I get home I start to reread all the Kerouac I still have in the house, including On the Road, which I find I love like an old friend I have had been "on the outs" with, as my Dad used to say. We are pals again, we love being on the road! Romantic, just what I need in this phase of my life, connecting passionate language to life. It's a little uneven, it's not always really great language or storytelling, it feels sometimes like a young man's diary, but I also like that for the immediacy of that, too, and it is important to me for the joy and sadness in it. 4 stars. Not because it is one of the greatest books of all time for all people. It's a "boy book" in what are sometimes painful ways to read, because the women always seem peripheral to the men. But 4 stars + because it is a very personal book right now for me, speaking to me in ways I need to listen to, especially the darker aspects of it, when it veers dangerously close to madness and regret.

Jack Kerouac reading from On the Road in the surreal circumstance of an appearance on The Steve Allen Show:

Profile Image for Gabrielle.
977 reviews1,093 followers
May 9, 2018
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 thought it was brilliant. Reading it at thirty-three made me cringe way more than I had imagined it would…

In historical context, what Kerouac did with this book was revolutionary and it’s important to remember that: the book is dynamic, it threw caution and literary standards to the wind and ran as far and as fast as it could from what Jack considered to be “establishment”. And on that basis, it's worth checking out.

Of course nothing that goes on in this book makes a lick of sense to me now. The lifestyle these characters have is beyond unsustainable and their carelessness with each other is actually quite distressing. And while obviously, the way male characters handle female characters infuriated me, the ladies in this book don’t have much in the way of redeeming qualities either: being “free” is all nice and good, but it should never ever mean treating other human beings like garbage. And there is a copious amount of that in “On the Road”, which made me really sad. It’s no secret that this is a roman à clef and that most of the events described in the novel are a version of something that actually happened, and these people creating so much suffering for themselves and those around them weighs the book down like an anchor. The idolization of Dean Moriarty – who is an epic douchewaffle – is definitely the part that was the hardest to digest this time around. Not to mention the glaring hypocrisy and pseudo-intellectual pretentiousness.

The hallucinatory descriptions of trips, both physical and psychological are still entrancing and often poetic, even when they are incoherent. As an ode to freewheeling youth, it has moments of inspiring and lyrical bravado. But I can’t escape the knowledge that all of Sal Paradise’s promises are empty, and that Kerouac never truly found what he was looking for.

I’ll be revisiting his other books eventually, to see if they hold up on their own, but do yourself a favor: if you read this book when you were young(er) and loved it, leave it alone.
Profile Image for صان.
386 reviews224 followers
February 16, 2018
ده ستاره می‌دم!

درمورد این کتاب سخت می‌تونم بنویسم. انقدر که چیزهای جالبی برای من داشت. متن روونی داشت، اتفاقات هیجان‌انگیز و تجربه‌نشده بودن، ریتم بالایی داشت، وقتی می‌خوندی حس می‌کردی که داری می‌دویی باهاشون. توصیفات محشری داشت که می‌تونستی جاده‌های آمریکا و جزکلاب‌ها و مهمونیا و بیابونا و مکزیک و جنگل‌هاش رو باهاش تجربه کنی. من این رو خیلی آروم خوندم. هر از گاهی کمی ازش رو می‌خوندم و این خیلی لذت‌بخش بود.
عیش مدام!

توصیه می‌کنم، به همه، که بخوننش و چه بهتر که حین خوندنش درموردش تحقیق هم بکنن. مثلن وقتی از ترانه‌ای نام می‌برد، دانلودش می کردم و حین خوندن اون صفحات گوش می‌دادمش. یا نقشه آمریکا رو نگاه می‌کردم و مسیر حرکت‌شون رو بررسی می‌کردم. کلی اسم و چیز جالب می‌شه توی این کتاب پیدا کرد و در نهایت شما رو عاشق سفر و تجربه می‌کنه.

باید رفت سفر. باید دید و باید مثل جرقه‌های طلایی‌رنگ این کتاب دوید و دوید تا از نفس افتاد!
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,279 reviews21.3k followers
November 11, 2009
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 you wake up in the morning after your head has slid down the side of the toilet and you find yourself covered in proof that US sailors aren’t as accurate shots as they make themselves out to be. I don’t care if you turn up your jazz records so loud that it wakes every single bloody kid down the street so that they bawl out at the full stretch of their lungs from midnight right through to 6 am - just as long as all of those kids and everyone else living in that street who’s bleary eyed and up half the night shut the hell up as soon as I close the covers of the book.

Ah yes…

I’m not proud, I’ll admit it, I’m infinitely too straight to ever spend any real quality time with Mr Kerouac and his assorted friends. If I was there with them you’d have no trouble finding me. I’d be the guy in the back seat of their car with his eyes tight shut trying to pretend to be asleep, even if I would be listening, listening intently. Just the same, I already know that the bad driving would force my eyelids open just as surely as if matchsticks had been propped in there under the lashes. Yes, yes, I would find the driving the most difficult thing to deal with. I’ve never taken any sorts of objective measurements or done the comparisons that would need to be done, but I just don’t think my penis is small enough to make me need to risk death by car accident so as to prove my manhood. Shit no.

Still, this novel rings out and over and through a million imitations. It might well be a sad-but-true fact I’m telling you here, but my bet is that outright plagiarists have made ten gazillion times more than Kerouac ever did out of his beats. They’ve copied him in film and in book and in song. And I’m prepared to say here that there is no question that some of those imitations are nearly as good as Pepsi and some, well, some are more like home-brand Cola, but there have always been others that are not just the real thing, but they’ve even had a splash of whisky added – all pure and inspired. Those imitators taste like originals, either that or they have had their ears whispered into as if by the devil himself (so that it’s just like walking down the middle of a street where all lampposts have their streetlights smashed, but you’re okay and you’re going to be okay because right beside you is Tom Waits himself, and it’s Waits with a saxophone moaning low from an open window of a tenement building here-abouts – like he did that night on track nine from Nighthawks at the Diner).

This is a book affected by the rhythms of Jazz and it shows in virtually every sentence. He even mentions one of my all time favourite songs as he’s heading down the road somewhere on a particularly good night – Billie Holiday’s version of Lover Man sticks in his head (and can you really imagine a better song to have stuck there?) It is hard to read this book without a soundtrack of Dizzy Gillespie or Thelonious Monk or maybe even the Lady herself humming in your head, though maybe not singing, maybe just vamping one-handed on some just out-of-tune upright piano while the bass man taps his stings half-heartedly, half-heartedly and no more. Come here and find me a blindman for this piano. Still, there’s always music here, lots of music. And I don’t mean just in reference, but in the beat of the words as they hit the page. Christ, maybe even as residue sound from the keystrokes tapping against the paper scrunched up in an old manual typewriter.

Ah yes, ah yes…

Like I said, I’m just too straight for the madness of all this. The crazed brothel scene near the end with the young Latin American girls plastered and passed out and violated in expectation of little more than enough money to buy a pack of cigarettes – even if, perhaps, they received much more than that, you know, in the end, even if no one seemed to know how much was actually spent. It was clear from the beginning how much would be taken from all of these all-too-young little angels. Yes, that was all too much for my all too dull and far too prudish categorical imperatives. I struggled and I felt for those young girls and for what was being taken from them for a fist full of paper worth virtually nothing.

There was lots of that – lots of the sorts of things that good sons and good employees and good fathers struggle up against and fight up against and find just all too confronting. And I won’t hear any of your half-baked psychological bullshit about repressed desires. I’m not in the least trying to run away from what I want the most. I’m just warning you, that’s all; especially since while reading this book you’ll be brought up smack face-to-face close and right up far on the inside of this guy's head – and some of the places he has plans to take you, well, they aren’t on any Women’s Weekly package plane and bus tour itinerary. I mean that for sure. And your passport, well, that not going to do you any good either, not where he’s taking you. It is best you know right now that if someone asks you for your passport along this road then it’s just as likely that they’re planning to steal it from you. Like I said, I’m warning you, that’s all.

Listen to that. That trilling on the piano. That isn’t just there to show off the virtuosity of the guy with his fingers a blur over the keys; no, it’s not that. That’s there to remind you that round about midnight you’re going need to skip and step and jump onto a fright-train and to not forget that you’ve only got one shot and that’s when she slows up just a little bit on the bend. The trill is to remind you that every drink you have between now and then is going to cost you double as you run for that open door, the one with the hand sticking out of the dark and with someone you think you know calling out your name. But think nothing of it now, my friend, put it right out of your mind.

Although, if it was me I would recommend you remember – for there’s not a single person here who doesn’t love you, who isn’t your brother; just as there’s not a single person here who won’t leave you for dead out in the freezing cold of the night or abandon you in a strange city with your head stuck down a toilet bowl because the ice cream they recommended you eat this morning, the ice cream they said was a health food, really didn’t agree with the whisky they passed you this afternoon just as they nudged you in the ribs and pointed out that pretty little 15 year old Mexican girl sitting all alone and lonely and lost somewhere deep down in almond brown of her own eyes. The same brown eyes she used to furtively check you over with – what? Has that been for the third time now? Remember, there’s not one of them that won’t leave you to fend for yourself even as they drive off in their fifteen cent taxi with a quick glance back over their shoulder to see you walking stark naked and crying down the street because the Mexican dream girl you'd been talking to finally did get on her Greyhound Bus after she turned away from you spilling your guts into the gutter all almond coloured from the vanilla icecream and whisky you'd mixed together for their health giving properties. And damn it if you weren’t certain, as certain as you’ve ever been, that you had finally and for the first time in your life fallen in love and this time, this time it was for sure. For sure.

You’ll either love this book or hate it – cos that's the way this book is. Do you understand what I saying to you? You don’t have to love it just because it’s seminal – if you’re going to love it the fact it is seminal won’t add anything to the pleasure, just as if you are going to hate it the fact it spawned other works of art isn’t going to help in any way either.

Ah, I say, ah yes, that’s got to be me now, yes…
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