July 17, 2013

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Title: On the Road
Author: Jack Kerouac
First published: 1957
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository
Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Beats of Summer event prompted me to finally pick up On the Road, and I'm happy I've read it, although I'm not sure I'll pick another book by Kerouac any time soon.

I really liked the beginning of the book: the style conveyed the most reckless mood I've ever encountered in literature and it kind of reminded me of my first Europe trips :) But then the farther Sal went from home the crazier things got and the less I enjoyed these nasty episodes. As for the style, it got very incoherent every time Dean appeared on stage, and in some places it was just impossible to understand what was happening and what was the reason for it.

Dean Moriarty is probably the most repulsive and unlikable character I've ever read about. What is there in him to outweigh his horrible attitude to women, his negligence of law, betrayal of his friends and all his addictions? Some original philosophical opinions? Or his energy? That's not enough, to my mind. I understand that he is more of a symbolical, ideological figure, but I can't help thinking how many young people might have taken him as a role model and how bad it might have ended for them.

Unlike Dean, Sal is a good boy, thoughtful of his aunt, his friends, the girls he really cares about and even Dean himself. For him these crazy roams is only a stage in his life, and although he preserves some of Dean's freedom in him, he can still lead a normal life and, I hope, be happy.

In my book:
This kind of literature is important to read, because it defined and formed a generation, but I couldn't either enjoy it as a work of literature or approve of it as a suggestion of a pattern of behaviour and ideological landmark. But anyways, it's always better to know and disapprove than to have no idea about something.


  1. As much as I've wanted to read this I've avoided doing so because Kerouac is such a misogynist and I didn't know if I could deal with the testosterone.

  2. A well thought out review. I'm glad to find someone else that didn't love On the Road. I am glad to have read it, and glad to have put it away. As you say: it's always better to know and disapprove than to have no idea about something...bravo! My review: http://100greatestnovelsofalltimequest.blogspot.com/2011/11/on-road-by-jack-kerouac-1957-4-down-96.html


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