On the Road: The Original Scroll Audiobook | Jack Kerouac | Audible.com
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On the Road: The Original Scroll | [Jack Kerouac]

On the Road: The Original Scroll

Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951 that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history.
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Publisher's Summary

Here is the legendary 1951 "scroll" draft of On the Road, word for word as Jack Kerouac originally composed it.

Though Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West 20th Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history. It represents the first full expression of Kerouac's revolutionary aesthetic, the identifiable point at which his thematic vision and narrative voice came together in a sustained burst of creative energy.

It was not until more than six years later, and after several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. The differences between the two versions are principally ones of significant detail and altered emphasis. The scroll is slightly longer and has a heightened linguistic virtuosity and a more sexually frenetic tone. It also uses the real names of Kerouac's friends instead of the fictional names he later invented for them.

This audio edition is narrated by actor John Ventimiglia, best known for his portrayal of restaurant owner Artie Bucco in The Sopranos.

©2007 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 the Critics Say

"It is a dazzling piece of writing for all of its rough edges, and, stripped of affectations...it seems much more immediate and even contemporary....The novel that On the Road became was inarguably the book that young people needed in 1957, but the sparse and unassuming scroll is the living version for our time." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (245 )
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4.0 (117 )
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4.2 (119 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Chris alameda, ca 09-17-08
    Chris alameda, ca 09-17-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stellar, if you know what you're getting into"

    A delightful listen. Many reviewers here apparently did not know what they were listening to. This is not "On the Road"; this is an early version of that novel, much more stream-of-conscious and meandering, as typed on a single scroll with little sleep and many stimulants. The narrative structure of the originally published version seems a little questionable to me, and this is even more meandering, with interludes and characters that really go nowhere. But if you appreciated the beauty of the original (and as some of the negative reviewers surmised, learning how to have fulfilling, mature relationships is not one of the things you should come here for), hearing this considerably longer version is wonderful. "Artie Bucco"'s reading is a joy--I kept forgetting that I wasn't listening to Kerouac reading it. He really captures the spirit, and was one of the best matches between reader and material that I have heard.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 06-18-09
    Michael Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 06-18-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "a sure-fire winner in all respects"

    John Ventimiglia is a fine narrator, giving a lusty performance that never bores. It sounds as if we're listening to Kerouac himself. Of course it helps that the "original scroll" was written in an autobiographical style, that Kerouc names the real names (Allen Ginsburg, etc). There's nothing not to like in this recording: in fact, I'd say this was award-nominating material. My only caution is that as the scroll itself was without a break, so too the narration--you'll find yourself listening way longer than you'd intended, falling into the rythm of the road and the poetry of Kerouc as interpreted by Ventimiglia.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan belmont, MA, USA 11-16-07
    Susan belmont, MA, USA 11-16-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "amazing book"

    admittedly, on the road is probably my favorite book ever. i've read the originally-published print version five times. this reading of the scroll version is incredible - the narrator captures the spirit of the book perfectly. it flows with an energy that i think would impress jack and neal. i heard the narrator read excerpts in person, and the recording is just as good. i can't wait to read it again!

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Massena, NY, United States 06-03-10
    Elizabeth Massena, NY, United States 06-03-10
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    "Wonderful narration"

    I'm listened to many, many audible books over the past five or so years and this is the best narration I've heard. Completely authentic sounding and bringing this wild tale to life, John Ventimiglia does a fantastic job. Really enjoyed it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Sooke BC Canada 12-23-08
    James Sooke BC Canada 12-23-08 Member Since 2007

    I love trees!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    "great book!"

    I loved this story! I didn't realise that this was the original scroll when I downloaded it. But I'm so glad I did, It was so great hearing the real names of the characters from Kerouac's famous book (on the road). The narrouter did an excellent job as well.I had some great laughs!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roy BOISE, ID, United States 10-31-11
    Roy BOISE, ID, United States 10-31-11 Member Since 2011

    Roy-in-Boise

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Burst ballon?"

    Now 37 years later for me this was my first rereading of this book since the first time. My initial reaction as a 50 something was that these guys are way too over-the-top ... What did I see in this when I was 23?
    Knowing that On the Road has been a tremendous influence on many people as well as myself and after pondering my initial reactions to this rereading I think I may have initially over reacted in that I did learn temperance and not to be too crazy in the future back in 1977. There is balance in the pages for the reader and Kerouac does teach us to live life and to reflect. Do as he says not as he and Neil do.
    John Ventimiglia's voice was perfect for the text. 5 stars for him and 5 stars for Jack and let's not forget Neil.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin Overland Park, KS, United States 04-20-11
    Martin Overland Park, KS, United States 04-20-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "the right narrator"

    So many have tried to make Kerouac novels into audio books and failed.
    This guy pulls it off. Very well.
    He's got just the right accent and delivery.
    I'm very happy with this audio book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray Baltimore, MD, USA 04-27-08
    Ray Baltimore, MD, USA 04-27-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "On the Road with On the Road"

    Thanks to Audible, we listened to the book as the cracked asphalt road unwound and lead us on our own road trip. Past old farm houses in sad decay, and overly happy McDonald's franchises filled with football watching farmers in camouflage hats buying mediocre mass produced burgers for shallow adolescents innocently unaware of the profound lack of profoundness that characterized their lives. Blissfully ignorant of anything beyond American Idol, and incognizant of the world of ideas, past and present, outside of the gleaming plastic temple of Ronald McDonald.

    Long, Mindless stretches of Interstate punctuated by side trips to little towns that used to be, but no longer were, and through a layer of dust and decay still evoked the spirit of Kerouac's bus stops. The train stations were closed, silent cold and dead except for a few near bedroom communities which housed Yuppie restaurants serving the more prosperous descendents of Kerouac's generation.

    Less intense than the experiences of Kerouac, but Lexus comfortable with an American Express card that would obviate the need to choose between a fifth of Jack or a bologna sandwich in a broken down diner near the railroad tracks. The hitch hikers had vanished much as the Elk vanished from Elk Ridge a century ago, but both their ghosts lingered along the side of the roads.

    Although unpolished (in this edition), Jack’s prose glistened with imagination and poetic promise. A story less about characters that we care about and more about a generation seeking to learn about alternatives to the culture that they were born into and/or trapped into. A story about writers becoming writers while traveling in search of traveling and searching.

    A joy to listen to. An adventure to read. One of the best readers that we have listened to. If you dig it, buy it.

    9 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy South Carolina 09-15-13
    Amy South Carolina 09-15-13 Member Since 2012

    I'm an artist and an art historian, and a chef, and a dog mom, master crocheter, a mediocre gardener, and a girlfriend, mostly. My favorite authors (in equal amounts of favorite) are Tom Robbins, Jane Austen, J.D. Salinger, and Haruki Murakami.

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    "Unexpectedly boring."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I feel like this book would have been much more interesting written from an unprivileged minority's perspective, then a whiteboy looking for "adventure".


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

    Nothing. I know that it is a classic, I just really found it boring.


    What aspect of John Ventimiglia’s performance would you have changed?

    His voice was boring to me. He didn't make me like the main character. He made me loathe him even more.


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

    Maybe. Maybe the movie would take a different spin on the main character. Give him some interesting qualities.


    Any additional comments?

    I just have to say, if you are looking for adventure in this book you wont find it. If anything I find this book is important to America to show that it is still full of hipsters trying to make their lives more meaningful. The answer to that is to do great things, not bum off of people who really are unprivileged, and then make a mockery of their lives as a way to make yourself more interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Cambridge, MA, United States 03-18-13
    Ryan Cambridge, MA, United States 03-18-13 Member Since 2013
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    "The narrator is great"
    What did you love best about On the Road?

    This is a story that is best when read aloud


    Would you recommend On the Road to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes if one has a good chunk of time to spend with it


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the jazz scenes convey both what the author see and hears; the nature of the beauty of the moment.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book gave me a new point of view. a little existential, but mostly an illustration of a time gone by.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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