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On the Road: 50th Anniversary Edition | [Jack Kerouac]

On the Road: 50th Anniversary Edition

Few novels have had as profound an impact on American culture as On the Road. Pulsating with the rhythms of 1950s underground America, jazz, sex, illicit drugs, and the mystery and promise of the open road, Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "beat" and has inspired generations of writers, musicians, artists, poets, and seekers who cite their discovery of the book as the event that "set them free".
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Publisher's Summary

Few novels have had as profound an impact on American culture as On the Road. Pulsating with the rhythms of 1950s underground America, jazz, sex, illicit drugs, and the mystery and promise of the open road, Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "beat" and has inspired generations of writers, musicians, artists, poets, and seekers who cite their discovery of the book as the event that "set them free".

Based on Kerouac's adventures with Neal Cassady, On the Road tells the story of two friends whose four cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naïveté and wild abandon, and imbued with Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up.

©1955, 1957 John Sampas, Literary Representative, the Estate of Stella Sampas Kerouac; John Lash, Executor of the Estate of Jan Kerouac; Nancy Bump; and Anthony M. Sampas; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (784 )
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4.3 (547 )
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  •  
    William Huntsville, Texas, United States 09-12-12
    William Huntsville, Texas, United States 09-12-12
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    2
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    "A classic"

    Great story and great reading. I would listen to Patton read anything. He is great for making the story come to life in your head.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 07-06-12
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 07-06-12 Member Since 2008

    My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.

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    "Was this supposed to be depressing?"
    Any additional comments?

    It's taken me a long time to get around to this book. I expected it to deal with alienation and the origins of the counterculture. I didn't expect the lives of the characters to be so remarkably empty. I think I'd gotten the impression that the Beats had somehow managed to find fulfilling internal lives even as they embraced the existential meaninglessness of life. But what I found instead was pretty much the exact opposite: characters skating along in subsistence lifestyles while avoiding any internal growth or even reflection. Is this the way other people have experienced this book? My sense is that Kerouac intended this, and that Dean Moriarty is supposed to represent the failure of these people to bridge the gap between what they aspired to and what they were able to achieve.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sheets Sparland, IL, United States 09-14-11
    Sheets Sparland, IL, United States 09-14-11 Member Since 2010
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    "American classic"

    I dedicated my summer listening to American classics. This made my list and was certainly one of the better books I listened to. Will Patton is a wonderful reader and I really enjoyed his "Whooo-Hooo's" and other joyous outbursts the characters belted out. The story will really astound you in some parts and really offend you in others. No other book could better represent the beginning of the pre-hippie movement.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly FORT WORTH, TX, United States 08-02-11
    Kelly FORT WORTH, TX, United States 08-02-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Great Narrator for this book!!"

    I love the narration style of Will Patton which is the primary reason I chose this book. Patton does a great job as usual with the narration of a book that can drone on at certain times. The story is good, but this is one where i found myself easily drifting in and out as it didn't always keep my attention. I would still recommend it as a listen if just for the craziness that is encountered through the numerous trips across the U.S. and into Mexico in the late 40's.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalia P. Valdes South San Francisco, CA USA 08-12-10
    Natalia P. Valdes South San Francisco, CA USA 08-12-10 Member Since 2015

    Natalia

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    "You feel like you are in the time..."

    The first part of the book worried me a little. Kerouac likes to skip the specifics and just give you summaries of his travels and it wasn't until i was deep into the story did i realize he had lulled me into a late forties kind of bum life. After a while you dig what Dean and Sal are talking about and why they live the way they do. Great narrator, i would have given up if it had not been for his talent. Worth a credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald M. Rattner 02-17-09 Member Since 2014
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    "Awful narration - stay away"

    Will Patton's narrative style is utterly puzzling and very unenjoyable. It seems to bear no relation to the character or content of the writing, veering from a half-whisper to a nasal drawl, neither of which is appealing. He seems to have only one voice for dialogue, no matter which character is speaking. Only the writing itself keeps you sticking with it. Use a different version.

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashley United States 06-13-14
    Ashley United States 06-13-14
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    "The definition of quixotic"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I am not typically one to complain about feminist concerns, but women are nothing but sex objects to the men in this story. The main characters are around thirty, and yet they seem to particularly enjoy sleeping with young teenage girls. These men also take a very idealistic and stereotypical view of the plight of impoverished minorities.


    What could Jack Kerouac have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I don't know that it would be possible for me to enjoy this book, as it seems that Kerouac's ideas about life were fundamentally different from mine. He and his friends were "experience junkies," drawn to anything that gave them an energy high, no matter who they hurt along the way.


    Which character – as performed by Will Patton – was your favorite?

    I gave this audiobook three stars overall. I would have given the book itself two stars, the fact that it is an important cultural reference point being the only thing keeping it from getting just one star. My third star is purely because the narrator's performance is wonderful. He perfectly conveys the personality of every single character, and he is especially good at portraying various regional accents.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    It is a movie, and in fact seeing the trailer for the movie is what made me decide to finally read the book. After reading it, though, I have no interest in seeing the movie.


    Any additional comments?

    I can see why this book appeals to the type of people who live for the moment, who seek out new experiences and refuse to accept societal norms. And I do find merit in those ideas...to a certain extent. But there comes a point where you have to realize that the "thing" you're looking for (the "it" that Dean Moriarty seeks relentlessly in this novel) will never be found in some new place or exciting experience. It can only be found in yourself, and in learning to be content and at peace with yourself regardless of your circumstances. That is something the characters in this book (and I would guess the author as well) never learned; it's something that the generation defined by this book still hasn't learned, and it's the reason I did not enjoy the book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    nicolas LAssomption, QC, Canada 12-28-13
    nicolas LAssomption, QC, Canada 12-28-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Typical classic: overhyped and outdated"
    Any additional comments?

    Like for most must-read classics, I found this book incredibly boring, which is sad because I was really looking forward to read this book that was said to have inspired so many people.

    Turns out this book is flat out boring and repetitive. Nothing really happens in this book; the main character travels east to west and back several times without doing anything more than hanging out with his bipolar buddy and submissive girlfriend. This book is a perpetual description of bars and musicians and pointless amazement during meaningless road trips.

    At first I thought the narrator was doing a good job at acting the voices of the different characters but it quickly became very annoying. I suffered in vain through the entire book hoping something great would eventually happen.

    To be honest, I can imagine that this book may have been inspirational for young adults who don't know anything about life in the 1960's, but this book is clearly obsolete in 2013 for adults.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    miles rose lake, fl, United States 04-19-13
    miles rose lake, fl, United States 04-19-13 Member Since 2013

    Say something about yourself!

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    "pass"

    the narrator sucks. Kerouac was jacked out of his mind on speed when he went into great ,beatnic details about random hipsters he met. whatever, who hasnt done this before. i guess its famous because no one ever wrote about it in great, and i mean great detail. its been about a year and i feel obligated to this books fame to endure it until the end. just like zen and the art of moto maintenance. at least theres a bmw in that book?

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deb Pace, FL, United States 08-07-12
    Deb Pace, FL, United States 08-07-12
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    3
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    "This is one for the "what were they thinking?""
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A different story with a plot that makes sense. This one's not worth the money or the gigs.


    What could Jack Kerouac have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Nothing, I'm afraid. It was not well written, uninteresting and shallow.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Will Patton?

    The narrator did a great job with what he had to work with.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Not for me.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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