Monday, February 4, 2013

Review: On the Road

On the Road
On the Road by Jack Kerouac

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine taking a trip across the United States—one coast to another. Today, most people in their twenties would hop on a plane or train and get there in hours. In Jack Kerouac's time, the adventure took longer, included hitchhiking with strange characters and provided a sense of accomplishment when you finally made it to your destination. In On The Road, Kerouac fictionalizes his journeys across the United States and to Mexico with his beat friends.

What is instantly noticeable about the novel is that it is written in a stream of consciousness style. Kerouac uses this style to put the pace and intensity of the situation right into the story. While sometimes it seems like a madman telling the story, it makes sense because these are all young, excited kids who just want to have a good time. It also resembles jazz phrasing, which is another prominent detail throughout the story—these cats certainly dig jazz.

Sal Paradise and his friends just want to feel, to see, to experience. They are all hipsters, which in this book doesn't mean the same thing as what modern day hipsters represent. In this book, hipsters are those who just seem to see things in everyday life that may not be apparent to those living those lives. They see and do and feel what others cannot. Although drinking and drugs have a big part in these feelings, the book still stands the test of time, showing what adventure in the company of friends (or on your own) can do to enrich your life. Even if all your friends seem completely crazy.

This wasn't my first foray in the work of Kerouac (I've previously read Visions of Gerard) and it won't be my last, because I find his writing style and subject matter of much interest.

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