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Review: On the Road

Editorial Review - Bookreporter.com

Jack Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "Beat" and has inspired every generation since its initial publication more than forty years ago. Read full review

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I really wanted to love this book. With all the hype surrounding it, I was desperate to read it. I read in one particular review, that reading this book at the right time could be so powerful it could change your life. Seeing as I was heading off to go travelling around Tanzania, I grabbed the book the week before I left and planned to read it as quickly as possible, to get myself properly excited and to try to understand the buzz of being 'on the road.'
What a let down. What a disappointment. I didn't finish it that first week. I didn't even finish the book the week after that. In fact, it took me 5 whole weeks to finish this book, and I had to force myself to read it every night. Every time I picked it up, I expected something to suddenly click, and blow me away, and all of a sudden I would understand why it was such a 'great' novel. So I kept reading. But that moment never came. I struggled to understand what was happening at times, I found the characters hard to connect with - I actually struggled to remember who was who, as there seemed to be SO many irrelevant characters - and it just seemed to go on, and on, and on.
Who knows, maybe I just read it 'at the wrong time'. But it's going to take a hell of a lot to take me back to this book.
 

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One of my favorite books of all time. Keroauc describes his journey (he is the main character Sal) with such power and emotion as he travels from New York City to San Francisco and back, most of the time with almost no money. His wild friend Dean (Neal Cassady in real life) makes the trip all the more interesting. Characters in the book represent real life people such as William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. Kerouac typed the manuscript on a continuous scroll one hundred and twenty-feet long of tracing paper sheets that he cut to size and taped together. 

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On the Road is an American Classic, but is not entirely original. Two Years Before The Mast is the original On the Road, and Wineburg Ohio, for it's time. Of course all of the Beats really wanted to posses the mastery of Henry Miller. It is with nostalgiac wonder that I re-read these passages, and I think that if I (at 45) were living Keroac's life, I'd almost be dead by now... 

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an iconic classic, "on the road" is the quintessential travelogue showing the depth of humanity from the most artistocratic in new york, the the raw artistic energy that is san francisco and everywhere in between. overall a wonderfully abstract and flowing book. my only regret is that i didn't read this book sooner, when i myself made the cross continental journey myself. 

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Most definitely, the most influential book in my life.
Packed with all the things a young man may go through in the most trying of times in his life. You can see that even when things become
increasingly dificult; hope, love, and time are the most basic of needs in this world.
Thanks for the book, Jack
--G
 

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This book was given to me as a gift by a high school boyfriend. I couldn't appreciate it until now, 9 years later, after having tried on the world of sex, drugs and bop. In spite my personal crusade to deny my own parochial heritage, I've consequently become ever more enchanted with middle-class working people of earnest and integrity. It's like get a f-cking job already, Sal. That being said, On The Road was a phenomenal read. Kerouac's description of his journey to Mexico and of its people was exceptionally brilliant and tender. I especially appreciated it after having driven through Mexico this summer.  

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Should I have read this book when I was 30?
America is a vast continent that lures the stranger and fascinates its inhabitants. Crossing it is a myth and an initiation. From Balboa to Lewis and
Clark, from John Appleseed to Forrest Gump, Americans have been continuously on the road to "experience" more than to discover their home land. And this is what young, inexhaustible Kerouac does back and forth, back and forth and at full speed. He is only the narrator of this vast and profound novel, but a narrator who carries all his characters and a whole generation under his skin.
Lucio Margherita
 

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I rather think On The Road is the kind of book that will either appeal to someone or it won't. I guess most books are that way. But I see so many disparaging reviews that I wanted to start by acknowledging that point.
Personally, I loved the book enough to write a companion reader for it (The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions), so right up front I have a bias and thought you should know about that.
Objectively, it's important to note that most scholars agree that - contrary to what many believe - Kerouac did not write On The Road without editing it in a nonstop caffeine-enhanced frenzy. At least one scholar suggests that Kerouac wrote in three phases. First, he captured his experiences as they happened or soon after in notebooks. Second, he wrote about his experiences in letters. Third, he refined it all into his manuscripts. Even the latter he edited multiple times.
Regardless, Kerouac set forth - as he stated in his own letters - to invent a new way of writing. Most agree that he succeeded with his stream-of-consciouness style. Some say he changed the American novel.
In any event, to really enjoy On The Road as Kerouac intended, just read it. Fluently. Don't try to make sense of it intellectually at every turn. Experience the timing of his writing, how it slows down and speeds up and pauses. How it glides and stutters. How it wanders - just like our thoughts! Re-read sections. Much of it is like poetry - it's not just about the meaning but about the sound and the texture of words.
Of course, along the way enjoy the story. Keep in mind that the book involves drug use and sex and petty larceny and a whole host of other behaviors society deems "inappropriate." That was the point! It was the generation that first rebelled against the Ozzie and Harriet culture we'd become. The beat generation experimented with living!
And Kerouac chronicled it. Better than anyone else.
On The Road is required reading for anyone interested in the beat generation.
 

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Es un libro que vale la pena leerlo, sin lugar a dudas. Yo, desgraciadamente, lo he leído un poco tarde (con 44 años) dado que si lo hubiera leído cuando era más joven mi vida hubiera sido otra bien diferente. No obstante, ha dejado en mí un huella imborrable. Me encanta como la prosa que utiliza Kerouac fluye sin cesar en una un devenir trepidante y frenético que te introduce en un mundo de pasión, desenfreno y amistad a través de los viajes que hace desde Nueva York hasta el Oeste, Denver y San Francisco, y que culmina con un último viaje a México donde los excesos cometidos alcanzan su punto más alto ...  

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