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Book Review: On the Road

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on the road reviewThere is a passage in the first few pages of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road that perfectly sets the tone for the autobiographical story and sums up Kerouac’s life. He wrote,

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

On the Road Review

Kerouac wrote like he was mad to talk. Written in only three weeks, the novel, which focuses on Kerouac and his friends in the late 1940’s and early 50’s, is written in “spontaneous prose.” The writing style that Kerouac spawned doesn’t give the audience a chance to stop reading, even if for some crazy reason we wanted to, but the long and unbroken sentences keep us whipping through the story, trying to catch up to Kerouac and his friends as they whip across America.

The novel touches on adventures that most people only dream of experiencing. While traveling across the United States, the group meets the most intriguing people, has numerous adventures and creates incredible memories. The journey is not extravagant, Kerouac often sleeps in a car or on friends’ floors, but it is passionate. As young writers of their time, the friends wanted stories so they went out and created them.

Kerouac invites us along for the trip. For a short time, we know Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs; we become a part of the “Beat Generation.” We hear the jazz and mambo music pouring out from smoky bars, talk the lingo and imagine ourselves rolling across long highways to unexpected and endless possibilities.

You get the feeling that all the people Kerouac met while traveling will be with him forever, no matter how brief their encounter may have been. Kerouac had an incredible ability, he completely opened up to people, offered them his mind and soul.

By doing this, he received the same inspired treatment and was able to learn how people think and feel, he learned of the human spirit. He reached people on a higher level than the everyday, random meetings. He put fear of abandonment and loss aside and enjoyed what he had at that moment. In On the Road, Kerouac continues to share these emotions and experiences with us in a way we will understand: clear, uncut and raw.

On the Road is about life, experience, passion and love. We all know these things, we have all tasted them, but how do we put them into words? Kerouac does just that and he does it well. He takes the everyday things like friends and traveling and he adds the magic that they possess. Every experience is a gift. It is because he holds his experiences so dearly to his heart that he can share them with us in a way to make us remember, to make us think twice about the importance of simple luxuries.

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2 Comments

  1. […] and Glassman would date for the next two years. At the time of On the Road‘s publication, Johnson was working on her first novel, Come and Join the […]

  2. Documentaries About Jack Kerouac « Jennifer Berube on December 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    […] The film also includes excerpts from Kerouac’s 1959 appearance on The Steve Allen Show, when he read from On The Road. […]

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