Published by Penguin Modern Classics
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, its American Dream is nearer that of Walt Whitman than Scott Fitzgerald, and it goes racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion.
On the back of this book it advises that Bob Dylan said that the book ‘changed his life, as it changed everyone else’s’. Well he must have been reading a different book, because I can’t see how this would change your life.
I like the way Kerouac writes, but I don’t like the story, well actually I felt there wasn’t much of a story, there was no real plot. I didn’t feel any connection to the characters, but this could be for several reasons.
Generation gap, first published in 1957, before the sixties took over with hippies and before the feminist movement, women are whores if the sleep with more than one man, but Dean can sleep with as many women and father as many children as he likes and he is a hero!
Also there is constant referring to gay people as fags, this bothers me as well, that also comes under cultural differences as in the UK a fag is another name for cigarette.
Cultural differences, as well as the above a road trip from Cardiff to Bognor would not be as interesting driving from Chicago to San Francisco – we would not do it unless there was a specific reason for us to make the trip.
And I think there is also a Gender issue, Dean is meant to be a hero, but the way he treats women and discards them only to go back for more later is disgusting, and the women for some reason adore him and let him get away with this.
I am afraid I would want to slap him as hard as I could, but this is a modern perspective on a book that is over 60 years old.
Sal, who is telling the story just seems to do whatever it is Dean wants and follows him like a sheep as if he is the be all and end all. A very disappointing read.