He did his best considering the material. He was put in a rough position and did the best anyone could have done.
None of them were extraordinary. No one memorable. It's a memoir of a guy hitchhiking who can only see the worst in women , and worships a man named Dean.
I guess in it's time is was interesting to young people. That was half a century ago.
The writing was not what I expected. More of a chronicle of events than anything interesting or profound. Most of my book club did not choose to finish it.
Will Patton's reading of this work, captures every ounce of the Beat era flavor. There is no finer reading of this work available. Thoroughly enjoyed it!
I haven't read the print edition. But yes, yes, yes. Kerouac's prose is often transcendent, yet he might have benefitted from an editor, and he and Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady) strike me as self-absorbed, self-indulgent, misogynistic lunks with way too much time, alcohol and marijuana on their hands. But Will Patton as narrator - OH.MY.GOSH. He NAILS this. His delivery is flawless, tender and wondrous. I've always liked Patton as an actor, but in listening to him perform this book I came to realize how immensely talented he really is. Worth listening to the book just for his performance. Masterful. Truly.
As someone who prefers her men to be emotionally stable, physically present and, if at all possible, employed, the main characters would not make my Top 100 list. And it is really all about them (in the book and in their lives) so it's hard to come up with a favorite character. Maybe the much-wronged but patient Camille, who is, regrettably, married to Dean.
Probably Dean Moriarty, as Patton perfects his verbal tics with his delivery. But the road itself is as much a character as any of the people, and the cities of Denver and San Francisco and New York, and the country of Mexico - these are the best characters.
"...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 and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes 'Awwww!'"
Maybe I'm being too harsh on Jack and Dean (Neal). This book truly is a hallmark of its times and thus, is rightfully considered a classic. But for me, Patton makes this classic a true classic.
I have heard of this "classic" and read the stellar and profound reviews of those who have listened before me leading to great expectations. My experience was quite different, this read like a repetitive set of drunken road trips. I should have returned it after the first chapter, but I kept listening for the enlightenment that others referred to. It never came. So please forget that it is a "classic" and disregard the self perpetuating reviews and listen to it raw. I saw a naked king.
I found this book incredibly disappointing. As someone who has long (and, admittedly, probably naively) romanticized the Beat Generation and the Hippie Generation, it made me sad to find the most famous work of one of the Beat Generation's true icons was so very problematic. Kerouac's author-surrogate protagonist Sal Paradise (what an awful, indulgent name by the way) describes Black people, women, Latinos, Native Americans, and gay people with all the depth and sensitivity of a kid making up stories about the adventurous inner lives he imagines animals at the zoo to have. He treats them as scenery; curiosities for his own amusement, to help inspire his own fascinating (he seems to think) life story. This is nothing more than a pretentious story of a privileged white self-professed "intellectual" waxing poetic on the joys of vagrancy tourism and recreational poverty whilst engaging in petty crime, mistreating people who care for him, and taking road trips with a mentally ill womanizer whom he idolizes for reasons that remain unclear. (Actually I kind of get his affection for Dean. At least Dean is obviously delusional as a result of real psychiatric instability, and this somehow at least somewhat excuses how poorly he manages to treat everyone around him. But Sal has no such excuse and really ought to know better.)
That said, I suppose Kerouac was at least one of the first to popularize this whole idiotic trope, so I guess he gets points for originality at the time. And at least the style of writing is kind of interestingly atmospheric I guess. The narrator captures that aspect of it nicely. But damn, the lack of substance or any redeeming qualities of the protagonist as a human being are really unfortunate and hard to compensate for.
This book already started pretty bad, so the only reason I finished it was because I could not believe it could continue being that bad and still have the reputation it has. I'm glad it was audiobook format, or I would not have managed it. Since I can't un-read it, I'll complain about it.
From what I understand, this is a memoir/journal of a character who travels places and does things with certain people. But the characters are all so painfully uninteresting I couldn't care less about any of them. They mostly drive through all of America, so the narrator sort of just names all the places they pass by, them having done absolutely nothing exciting in any of those places. And the main character, the narrator, isn't funny, isn't smart, isn't compassionate or anything else I could have maybe me amused by. He's actually a drunk misogynist jerk, and his friends are all jerks, but this book is trying to convey how ~coo~l they all are. It's kind of embarrassing.
Having there been nothing redeeming about the prose itself, I just feel really sorry I ever picked up this book.
About the audio version: it's finisheable, so the reader isn't half bad, I could't ever have finished this if I was reading it on paper, it was so terrible. So kudos to the reader.
A great vegabond experience. Makes you want to hit the open road and have and adventure for yourself.