Jahn Sood's Reviews > On the Road

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
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really liked it

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.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 1, 2005 – Finished Reading
June 9, 2007 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Akerumi (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Akerumi What do you think of this book, John?


Sara Salfrank Thanks for this honest and thoughtful take on the book. I read it and found that, overall, I did not like it. I keep feeling as though I should, and your review really articulates what was very good about this piece.


Alex Kane The beauty of Dean Moriarty for me was that, as you said, he took a lot of people's time and money etc BUT what he took he gave back in the form of good times, unforgettable experience and unimaginable energy.

I'd kill for a friend like him, worth every penny.


Camila Lobo write a book!


Jack Thor That's what makes it more honest of a work to me. Dean is a sad character in many ways, but he's also someone people want to be around when they want to do something. Most of us know someone like Dean.


Ashleigh I like your review, very great writing and I'm sure if you wrote the book I'd love it but it was a love hate kind of book for me.


Peggy I don't want to know Dean or anyone like him. He is a selfish, reckless person who uses up people and only thinks of himself. Why would anyone want a friend like that? He will do whatever it takes to get his kicks including leaving babies behind, stealing, wrecking cars that don't belong to him, etc. How is this a friend that anyone will want to hang with? It makes me sad that people think this is cool.


Amber Heath This book is a mess and I love it. There are no good or bad guys, just people. Hurricane Dean isn't a villain, he's a force of nature and people can't help but admire him in all his destructive glory. The aesthetic, bipolar energy of this book is a real trip. You don't need to be a straight white male as some have said to appreciate it... Don't look for morals, just see the truths, the ugly and the beautiful, see Kerouac, see your ridiculous selves. If that sounds intolerably immature, maybe lighten up?


message 9: by Melinda (new) - added it

Melinda Doucette I like your review. Thanks :)


message 10: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Loy Couldn’t agree more! This is the book that got me into roadtrips. Loved your review!


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