On The Road by Jack Kerouac

First read: 5/04
Reviewed on: 5/6/04
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I did not like it.
I liked it.
I thought it one of the Best Novels of All Time

I liked this book, but I have to say I didn't enjoy it. You can read any 30 pages and you get the idea. Kerouac writes decently, but he's hardly great. For the first fourth of this book, I was pretty bored. The "sage", Dean, was completely cliche and his revelations weren't anything you couldn't get out of a creative college sophmore with the aid of a shot of Jack and some "tea."

But then something happens to you... you forget about the lack of plot and repetition and annoying people, and suddenly get into the whole world of the book. You find yourself in a land where if you have nowhere to stay, your friend has an aunt or ex-roomate who's a one hour walk away who will grudgingly let you sleep on her floor. You have people leaving your life in anger and rage, and then six months later you run into them or one of you shows up at the other's door and you get into a car together to go to Denver.

Okay, this happened to me in college, probably before you were born. Kerry and her mellow friends and I were in my car and we wound up in someone's house, and I woke up early and my car was gone, as were her friends. So either my car was stolen and they were gone, or they stole it, or what, and I wasn't sure, but I figured I wouldn't make a fuss until after Kerry and the household woke up, because I wasn't going to call the cops on her friends until I told her first.

About fifteen minutes later, they drove up in my car bearing donuts - they didn't want to wake me, so they just took my keys and borrowed it. Most people I've told this story to get very angry on my behalf. How rude. But for that community, it would have been ruder to wake me than to borrow my car without asking. I didn't mind at the time - it was kind of Beat.

I've had a couple of "beat" moments. A hitchhike up the coast of Norway, some odd things I shouldn't mention here, etc. But I'm a white boy from the suburbs, and always a phone call away from help if a real emergency happens. I am not beat. I'll never be beat. But someone like me reads On The Road, and I realize that technically, there is nothing physically preventing me from getting into my purple Hyundai, aiming, and just going.

And I read about these people getting their kicks, easily drifting into and out of each others lives.

And I can't say that it doesn't intrigue me. And I'm convinced that it intrigues everyone who reads this book. You can just go at any time.


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