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When Jack Kerouac s On the Road first appeared in , readers instantly felt the beat of a new literary rhythm A fictionalised account of his own journeys across America with his friend Neal Cassady, Kerouac s beatnik odyssey captured the soul of a generation and changed the landscape of American fiction for everInfluenced by Jack London and Thomas Wolfe, Kerouac always wanted to be a writer, but his true voice only emerged when he wrote about his own experiences in On the Road Leaving a broken marriage behind him, Sal Paradise Kerouac joins Dean Moriarty Cassady , a tearaway and former reform school boy, on a series of journeys that takes them from New York to San Francisco, then south to Mexico Hitching rides and boarding buses, they enter a world of hobos and drifters, fruit pickers and migrant families, small towns and wide horizons Adrift from conventional society, they experience America in the raw a place where living is hard, but life is holy and every moment is preciousWith its smoky, jazz filled atmosphere and its restless, yearning spirit of adventure, On the Road left its mark on the culture of the late th century, influencing countless books, films and songs Kerouac s prose is remarkable both for its colloquial swing and for the pure lyricism inspired by the American landscape the backroads, the black tar roads that curve among the mournful rivers like Susquehanna, Monongahela, old Potomac and Monocacy This Folio Society edition is illustrated with evocative photographs of Kerouac and the landscapes of s America Now acknowledged as a modern classic, On the Road remains a thrilling and poignant story of the road less travelled 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 describi 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, andrecently 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 Join my 3 emails a year newsletter prizes 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 thi 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 lotdepth 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 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 InOn the Roadhe 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, 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 InOn the Roadhe 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 nothingBut 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 A View from the CouchOTR 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.DisclaimerPlease forgive my review It is early morning and I have just woken up with a sore head, an empty bed and a full bladder.ConfesssionLet 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 A View from the CouchOTR 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.DisclaimerPlease forgive my review It is early morning and I have just woken up with a sore head, an empty bed and a full bladder.ConfesssionLet 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 BarI 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 WritingForget 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 SymbolsYou 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 SausageOK, your impressions are probablyrecent 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 EphemeralityI 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 CoolCreativity 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