For a really long time I’ve wanted to go on an American roadtrip! I would love to take a year off and just travel around starting in New York and going in one huge loop around the continent until I am back in New York, for the time being though I just have to read about it, most recently in the Jack Kerouac book ‘On the Road’.
This was a book that got on my radar through the worthy heights of the ‘Gilmore Girls’ and I’ve heard the phrase ‘Kerouacing around’ a few times to describe someone going on roadtrips and experiencing the ‘real America’. I did enjoy it and as I write my review, a couple of weeks after finishing it all I have in my head is the song ‘Hit the Road Jack’ … better stop singing and get on with the review!
I thought it was unusual, that’s the best way really for me to describe the book. The main character Sal Paradise who is effectively Jack Kerouac pinged across the country eating apple pie and ice cream, listening to jazz, sleeping with women and reflecting on philosophy and literature with his companions and friend. His most notable friend Dean Moriarty ended up having been married three times, living with his second wife Camille and with four or so children. It was a chaotic book but I enjoyed the glimpse it gave me into their lives and the time.
I actually really liked the introduction. Often it’s tempting to skip reading the chapter of introduction that classic books tend to give you but if you buy the Penguin Classics version then I would recommend taking a look at the introduction which was written by Ann Charters. It basically explains a little bit of the thought process behind the book, it gives you a view into the real Sal Paradise (Kerouac himself) and of the ‘beat generation’ which he describes. The beat generation it turns out is not the wild lifestyle that the newspaper reporters then wanted it to be, but more of a religious reflective concept. I’d definitely take a look at Charters explanation, I thought a lot about it as I read the book.
What did you think? Did you warm to Sal Paradise? Did you think Camille was the right choice for Moriarty, and what did you think about the concept of the ‘beat generation? I’d love to know your thoughts so don’t hesitate to comment below.
Have a wonderful week,
Since the song is still in my head I thought I’d include the link: