Saturday, December 01, 2012

Book of the Month: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

In 1957, two novels were published that were destined to have a profound effect on the future of the United States, and indeed, the world, effects that would long outlast the lives of their creators.

The first was Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, and those who read it and felt that is was "speaking directly to them" went on to become Republicans, vulture capitalists, the kind of self-absorbed greed mongers epitiomized by Gordon Gecko and empathy-eschewing rightwing politicians epitomized by Paul Ryan, who wants to get rid of Social Security.

The second was On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, and its fans became late-period Beats, transitional "Fringies", and ultimately evolved into Hippies and End-the-Vietnam-War protesters.

We also became, by and large, those who didn't burn out, liberals and Democrats. If by some chance you haven't read the book, here is your chance. Or if you have read it, but it's been years ago since you did, here's a chance to renew your acquaintance with the detached Sal Paradise, the maniacal Dean Moriarty and their frenzied cross-country trips that make up the bulk of this book.

I've also created a set of interactive Google Maps so you can follow the progress of the journeys. Yes, this book did have a profound effect on me as a stripling teenager, and had I never read it, I'm sure my life would have turned out very differently.

The movie version of On the Road is scheduled to come out this month. It's actually surprising that a movie hasn't been made before now, but if you read the book, you will have some insights into things that the movie doesn't make clear or glosses over (no, I haven't see it myself, but you know what I'm talking about). You'll also be able to say to your friends, "The book was different!" You know how everyone likes that...


Sarge said...

Ain't seen you post for a bit - You okay?


thebanana said...

I never understood the whole Kerouac "On the Road" thing. Probably too much National Lampoon influence from my early years.