Fabian's Reviews > On the Road

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
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it was ok

Herein lies that gnarly root of the all-American Sense of Entitlement. Coupling this with "Huck Finn" as THE quintessential American Novel is One Enormous mistake: Twain at least entertains, at least follows through with his intention, with his American take on the Quixotean legend; Kerouac might just be the biggest literary quack of the 20th century! The book is awkward, structured not as ONE single trip, but composed of a few coast-to-coast coastings, all having to do with this (now) overused motif.

I despise it. (Living in Denver, Kerouactown, makes me hate him more!) A tale of a closeted individual who really has nothing to say. He has glorified a ruffian (DEAN DEAN DEANDEAN...!) whose selfishness sits well with him. What Sal does say, however, ever so dully, is just how Cool those around him are, how his only addition to this incomprehensible BEAT movement is as lame as those of a newspaper photographer: he sees and reports, jots idle musings down. What he fails to understand (the main guy is not even YOUNG... [he is old & stupid, desperate & pathetic]!!!!) is how entirely false this sense of freedom can be: Can a sheep really outwit the shepherd? Here is a supreme example of the blind leading... I sternly refuse to follow such idiotic drivel. This is a book for followers written by a Conformist, for one can always be some selfproclaimed comfortable conformist of nonconformism.

Nothing sticks. Everything "On the Road" is transitory, & although this works fine in the everyday, in Literature its seen as nothing more than a burden: a plotless restlessness to achieve permanence without that crucial element: mainly, the artist's virtue of Talent.
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Reading Progress

May 27, 2011 – Started Reading
May 27, 2011 – Shelved
June 3, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)

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Fabian I wonder: is Liana right? Is it too late for me to "dig" this?


Liana Just finish it. Maybe you'll end up liking it.


message 3: by Terri (new)

Terri Have you seen "HOWL?" with James Franco? Watch it-I loved it (but I love the Beats and the poem) It will put the book in perspective.


Liana WHOA, brutal review.


Fabian Yeah: bottom line, there is SO MUCH OTHER literature to get one's hands on. So little time. Seriously.


message 6: by Cody (new)

Cody Too true, Fabian. It's fun when you're a kid, but, yeah, that sucker doesn't age well at all. Kind of like Kerouac himself!


message 7: by Jay (new) - added it

Jay Yes, the work does feel dated.


message 8: by Melora (new)

Melora I remember my dad telling me that he'd read it when he was young -- probably around the time it came out, in 1957 -- and thought it was great, but that when he reread it recently for a book group, in his 70's, he thought it was just rambling and obnoxious. Sounds as if it was very much a book for a particular time and age group -- I wonder why it has had such staying power?


message 9: by Cody (new)

Cody Melora wrote: "I remember my dad telling me that he'd read it when he was young -- probably around the time it came out, in 1957 -- and thought it was great, but that when he reread it recently for a book group, ..."

It was undeniably important for the time period. It WAS something new in the middle-50s; an attempt to contain the lightning of Jazz on page and a prolonged rejection of the then status quo. I think that after all these years, the writing is allowed to be judged outside of that context and just doesn't stand the mettle or scrutiny that timelessness now affords it.


message 10: by Cody (new)

Cody Melora wrote: "I remember my dad telling me that he'd read it when he was young -- probably around the time it came out, in 1957 -- and thought it was great, but that when he reread it recently for a book group, ..."

Oh, and sorry (regarding your last point): reputation preceding actual quality. It is one of those books that you are supposed to like as it was at the vanguard of fiction once upon a time. You are supposed to like, say, 1984, or you are a cretin. The difference, of course, is that Orwell could actually write his ass off and didn't hide behind the ramalama of a very specific cultural zeitgeist.


message 11: by Antonomasia (new) - added it

Antonomasia The cruellest thing you can do to Kerouac is reread him at thirty-eight.
from The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi


message 12: by Melora (new)

Melora Cody wrote: "Melora wrote: "I remember my dad telling me that he'd read it when he was young -- probably around the time it came out, in 1957 -- and thought it was great, but that when he reread it recently for..."

Thank you -- you explain it well. There should be a name for the category of books which were important for some reason in a particular period but which lacked any qualities which might have made them classics. Like The Catcher in the Rye and Stranger in a Strange Land, though I suppose that reaching consensus on this list would be as hard as agreeing on the "classics." I need to reread 1984 one of these days.


message 13: by Cody (new)

Cody Melora wrote: "Cody wrote: "Melora wrote: "I remember my dad telling me that he'd read it when he was young -- probably around the time it came out, in 1957 -- and thought it was great, but that when he reread it..."

Yeah, probably impossible. I, too, have little patience for Catcher, but I understand its contextual importance. But that doesn't mean I have to like it! :)


Christopher I enjoyed this at 17, but I see what you're saying.


message 15: by Vladimir (last edited Jun 10, 2016 08:32AM) (new) - added it

Vladimir I'd say the all-American Sense of Entitlement began with the belief in Manifest Destiny, "a city upon a hill" and Emerson's abhorrently selfish and myopic idea of self-reliance. All of that got exacerbated by consumerism and the growth of the middle class. But what do I know, I'm not American. In any case, I think this book would be an effect, not a cause.


message 16: by Terri (new)

Terri I agree. He is also very misogynistic and extremely self obsessed. I do think that there were real nonconformists within the Beat movement, but they were at NYU and Columbia and they exposed many of the inconsistencies and racism at the heart of the 1950's suburban conformity.


message 17: by loudermilk (new)

loudermilk poe ballantine deserves the time people have wasted on kerouac. it's crushingly frustrating the way that k keeps surviving into the next decade, not worthy. fine review.


Fabian Cody wrote: "Melora wrote: "I remember my dad telling me that he'd read it when he was young -- probably around the time it came out, in 1957 -- and thought it was great, but that when he reread it recently for..."
Wholeheartedly YES!


message 19: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette Splendid review. Spot on!


Fabian Jeanette wrote: "Splendid review. Spot on!" Thank you! f


Chiara totally agree :)


Infada Spain couldn't agree more :)


message 23: by Don (new) - rated it 4 stars

Don Truman Capote said about On the Road, "That's not writing. That's typing." I read it in my 20's and was not impressed.


message 24: by Lucas (new)

Lucas Mendelssohn CURIOSA PORTADA


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