Book #21

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road chronicles Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent, from East Coast to West Coast to Mexico, with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West." As Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty,  the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. 

I last read this around thirteen years ago during a semester studying in Paris. Borrowed from a friend, it was meant to bolster the nights of drinking, to calm me in between the rollicking around a romantic city with a group of strangers who became my friends. I thought I’d pick it up now and remember Sal and Dean, but nothing came to me. Is it unmemorable, or was Paris just too intoxicating?

This is an interesting read for those who want to be immersed in the Beat generation movement and its qualities of significance. I am not one of these people. It’s a meandering stroll through the exploits and minds of men who, to me, are dull, self-aggrandising, and quite honestly moronic.

Although written in the fifties, which is always the excuse to justify white heterosexual writings of days gone by, I wasn’t comfortable with the rampant racism, sexism, and homophobia slapping me in the face throughout the pages. I could probably write essays and essays on Kerouac’s internalised shit, but I simply do not care to give it any more of my time or thought.

I know you’re supposed to love On the Road, and I can’t even remember whether I did back in the Parisian glory days, however it did nothing for me this time around. Quite possibly the state of the world this week, and indeed this past year, has left me cynical and apathetic towards male adventure; I couldn’t say, however what I can say is that I very much doubt I’ll attempt this again.