#90. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
On the Road is a novel by American writer Jack Kerouac. On The Road is based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across America. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat Generation with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry, and drug use.
The idea for On The Road formed during the late 1940s; it was to be Kerouac’s second novel. It underwent several drafts before Kerouac completed it in April 1951. It was first published by Viking Press in 1957.
When the book was originally released, The New York Times hailed it as “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as ‘beat,’ and whose principal avatar he is.” In 1998, the Modern Library ranked On the Road 55th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. The novel was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was #90 on the BBC 2011 List, and #66 on the 2012 list.
I personally disliked the book and found it difficult to continue reading, actually find reasons NOT to pick the book back up. If it weren’t for the fact that the book was on the list, I wouldn’t have finished the book. The characters reminded me a lot of my son, with the mooching off of people, the constant partying, the lack of responsibility, the lies, the theft…and the inability for the characters to take responsibility for their own actions and absorb the consequences for their actions.
“It’s not my fault!” I told him. “Nothing in this lousy world is my fault, don’t you see that? I don’t want it to be and it can’t be and it won’t be.” (page 202, para. 11)
It irritated me every time the guys took off on their women, especially when they left them pregnant. At one point, Sal Paradise, the lead character blamed his own whiteness on his unhappiness! I understand the drive for excitement and adventure, but there comes a point where one must draw the line when they are destroying the lives of others. This book is supposed to be a loose autobiography of the author’s youth.