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.
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.
Wow, I am actually at a loss for words. I hated this book. What the heck was the point? I feel like maybe I needed to be stoned to get it? If it weren't for the amazing narration I would have stopped 1/4 of the way through. Now I regret not doing that.
The positive and uplifting perspective of the narrator.
I don't think there is any book in the world I'd listen to in one sitting over 150 pages.
More of a plot. The book is about hippies that drive around the US and bum money off of people. The characters goals are to go to parties, do drugs, and have sex. They have no interests or hobbies. I thought this book was about adventures and discoveries. Nothing about experiencing the different parts of the US. Nothing about the food, culture, personalities, or ways of life in different cities. The guys just hook up with women, have children, and abandon them. Then they hook up with their friends girlfriends and are so stifled when it hits the fan. I can't relate to the characters for a second.
The main character keeps mentioning throughout the book that he doesn't have a drivers license. He can't do this or that because he doesn't have a license. Well get a license, man!
Sort of drawly and monotone, every character sounded the same
I listen to dozens and dozens of audiobooks and Will Patton's performance here is the best I've heard. Kerouac's writing style feels like it is meant to be read conversationally and Patton nails it. I also have the original scroll version audiobook and the performance pales in comparison. Only get it if you need it for scholarly pursuits.
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