Number of Pages: 281
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Release Date: 1957
“On The Road swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, jazz, sex, generosity, chill dawns and drugs, with Sal Paradise and his hero Dean Moriarty, traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat. Now recognized as a modern classic, Kerouac’s American Dream is nearer that of Walt Whitman than F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, and the narrative goes racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and passion.”
I decided to read this book after reading about it in the textbook I use for my AP United States History class. This novel was extremely influential in describing the Beat movement of the time, which I sort of like to think of as the equivalent to modern-day hipsters. (I’m not sure how accurate that really is, but hey, it works for me.) I wanted to see what all the fuss was all about, so I checked this out from my school’s library and immediately began reading it. I didn’t really know what it was about, other than that there were some road trips involved and the mood would be very Beat-ish.
I read the majority of this book while on a long car ride to a college visit, which was actually the perfect setting. This novel focuses primarily on road trips, so it’s the ideal book to read while traveling. One of the main reasons I really enjoyed this book is that it perfectly captures that feeling of restlessness that we all feel at some point in our lives. This book may be representative of the Beat generation, but I think at a different level it is also representative of teenagers in general. At this point in my life I am feeling rather restless myself: I’m eager to graduate from high school and go to college, to move forward with what I’m passionate about instead of sitting in class and taking exams. But at the same time, I know that right here is really where it’s best for me to be at the moment. Sal and Dean seem to feel a similar feeling in the novel. They know that they should probably settle down soon, get a steady job and start a family, but all they want to do is go out there and see the world. So they do.
My favorite character in this book was Dean Moriarty, hands down. And not just because his last name is that of an awesome villain in a certain spectacular BBC show.
Dean is extremely enthusiastic about life altogether, especially in the latter half of this book. He finds the little things in life fascinating and enthralling, and he puts one hundred percent of himself into everything he does. Most of his part of the dialogue in the novel were his ramblings and rants about various topics, which ordinarily I would find quite boring. However, Kerouac did a fantastic job at capturing Dean’s enthusiasm. There was energy in the very words he wrote, an energy that I could feel even as the reader. I actually read and enjoyed Dean’s tangents, for the sole reason that there was so much spark to them. This alone shows Kerouac’s talent for writing.
Overall, I really enjoyed On the Road. There were some parts that dragged on a bit, but for the most part the pacing kept things fairly interesting. At first I was confused by all of the different characters, but my confusion quickly cleared up once I got used to who they were. From a historical standpoint, I can definitely see why this book was so influential. It really does do an excellent job at capturing that restless, rebellious, free spirit that the Beatniks embodied decades ago. And yet, it’s not so difficult to connect with as a teenager today.
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys.
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes!
Have you ever read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Are there any other books by Jack Kerouac that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!