Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On the Road

This weekend I read Jack Kerouac's On the Road. I had tried reading this book before, and never got past the third chapter. This time around, I made it all the way through but only because I allowed my brain to check out every so often, when the story got tedious. This is one of those books that goes over better after a few drinks or if the TV is on in the background.

I think the thing that bothered me most is that the narrator, Sal, seemed rather one-dimensional and Dean, the protagonist being described from Sal's point of view, went from being crazy to being crazier. Not a character development that would make him particularly sympathetic. There were too many characters but not enough that I actually cared about. The idea of hitchhiking across America would be a great theme for a novel, but this one falls flat. Overall, I feel about this book the way I feel about J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, I can understand why someone would like it, but that someone is definitely not me.

Truman Capote once said of On the Road "That's not writing, that's typing." I must admit, I'm with Capote on this one.


  1. So what made you push through this time and read the whole thing? Are you glad you did?

    I'm another person who has started On the Road multiple times but never gotten past a couple of pages.

  2. It was research for a project I'm working on so I had to grit my teeth and get through it. I suppose I'm glad I did it because now at least it's been checked off the list!

  3. I've never tried to read it. I feel like I know exactly what my reaction will be, so I'm saving myself the trouble. But, of course, I do feel like it is one of those books that I am "supposed" to have read. Sigh.

    I love the cover image you found!

    Is this research for The Runaway Club? Or something new?

  4. Yeah-this has been on my Runaway Club reading list for about, oh, a year now. Next on the list: re-reading Homer's Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid. Woot!