Fitting only too perfectly, I read this semi-autobiographical tale while travelling freeing around Europe, albeit by train, and found that the open-mindedness and happy-go-lucky nature of the story had a great influence on me.
The writing style, liquid, almost stream-of-consciousness, and packed with details of people, places, vehicles, journies, works perfectly with the content, and let’s the reader in on the psyche and excitement of travelling across America in this era.
Dean Moriarty, on whom most of the action focuses, is unusual in that although he is dishonest, cheats the author and their friends at every opportunity, and is just a general liability, he is incredibly likable, and in this way maintains the authors loyalty.
The book is also a tantalising look at a time when everything was simpler. People were less expectant, most trusting, less materialistic. The distinction between this and the modern world, in particular modern America, is infuriating.
The same thought came to me after reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, but it’s as relevant here. At school, we read Wuthering Heights, which for this generation and at that age (15-16 years), is an extremely boring, unpleasant novel. Surely if we’d studied one of the two books mentioned above they would ahve inspired less hatred for English literature than Emily Bronte did for so many.
Edit: So apparently Penguin are releasing a new, uncut version to celebrate 50 years, called On The Road: The Original Scroll.Tags: books, Jack Kerouac