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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read but its one that stays with you
On the Road was first published in 1957 and is a largely autobiographical account of Jack Kerouac's various road trips taken with his friends during the 1940s. All names were changed (to protect the not so innocent) and the story mostly features the characters Sal Paradise (based on Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty (based on real life person Neal Cassady) along with various...
Published on 28 Nov 2011 by J. Willis

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars High expectations
After countless recommendations I thought I'd finally give this book a shot. My expectations were extremely high and being a keen traveller I was looking forward to getting stuck into On The Road. Unfortunately, it has not lived up to expectations and truth be told, I got bored halfway through.

The first few chapters progressed way too quickly and I was...
Published 5 months ago by L. Walker


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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read but its one that stays with you, 28 Nov 2011
By 
J. Willis (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
On the Road was first published in 1957 and is a largely autobiographical account of Jack Kerouac's various road trips taken with his friends during the 1940s. All names were changed (to protect the not so innocent) and the story mostly features the characters Sal Paradise (based on Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty (based on real life person Neal Cassady) along with various other real life characters occurring throughout.

The novel overall has a fresh feel and I think this is because the idea of youth searching for more than the conformity of the society they are in is an idea which is being constantly being explored. This does not mean that the book is cliqued however as although the subject matter might not be original, the descriptions of their methods, ideas and the people they encounter is. Crossing the American continent is exhausting enough (I know, I did it) and Kerouac does not hide from the reader the exhaustion, the dirty aspects, the arguments along the way.

One of the stronger aspects of the novel are the people that Sal and Dean encounter along the way. They have various conversations with drunks, travellers, drug addicts and poor immigrant workers all of whom often add more insight than Sal and his friends can provide. The friendship between Sal and Dean is also interesting and goes through many changes throughout as they spilt then meet up again.

A lot has been said on the bad behaviour of the characters and yes they take drugs, have wild parties, visit Mexican brothels and steal cars. This might not seem so shocking now but when you consider these guys were born before my grandmother it just goes to show that despite the fact that each generation thinks they invented teenage bad behaviour, they really didn't.

There is no plot really, just the endless travels around which I think is the point. The book starts off as a celebration of youth while all the characters are young and free but as the novel progresses and the characters become older a sadness descends on the overall feel of the book. While their drug infused last adventure in Mexico might have been fun for the characters, I was left wondering why the character Dean was doing this while he had a wife who was pregnant and three other children in various states. I'm afraid I became a boring square and wondered when they were going to go home and face up to their responsibilities that THEY had created.

There was an even bigger sadness to come though after I finished the book and looked up what eventually happened to some of the characters long after the book was set. Kerouac died at 47 from cirrhosis caused by years of heavy drinking and his friend Neal Cassady died at 41 from exposure after passing out in the street in Mexico after a party. Perhaps these fates were inevitable when part of a generation collides with the society they live in, but really, was it worth it?
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Live each day to the full, 11 Feb 2005
By 
Sam Peach (London, England) - See all my reviews
This is a book that I have read many times, and each time I have loved it even more. Although the story is brilliant, this book is more about how it makes you feel whilst reading it, as well as after. It makes you want to get off of life's treadmill of work, telly, eat, sleep and to get out there and really 'live'. To make memories, stories, adventures, and to stay far from the mundane.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On The Road by Jack Kerouac, 23 Nov 2011
This review is from: On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I picked a copy of On The Road up in my comprehensive school library when I was 17. I started reading it and I literally could not put it down. I actually walked into a lamp-post reading it while I was walking home.
This wonderful book is crammed full of life, excitement, love, yearning and a delight in experiencing the new. I read it in about 1972, the tail-end of the Hippy Era and it made me realise that I had to....just like Dean and Sal...go on the road. Directly inspired by this book I spent the next few years hitchiking around the UK and Europe, experiencing everything I could.
Regard it as a manual for living. Kerouac had a tender, religious attitude to his fellow man. He was endlessly fascinated by everyone and everything around him. He also had little regard for materialism...other than a bottle of liquor, a joint or a bebop record. For Jack, experience and friendship is everything.
More than anything it is a thrilling read. Kerouac takes you with you on his epic journey of self-discovery and you will NEVER forget the ride.
Let's just hope the new movie - it it EVER appears - does justic to this sacred text.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exciting, Breathless, Attempt to "Seize the Day!",, 27 Aug 2004
Jack Kerouac wrote this novel about several escapades he took across the country in the late 1940's. He used characters from his real life, such as Allen Ginsburg the poet and author; and Neal Cassidy, Kerouac's idol, and changed their names to use in the story.
In "On The Road", Sal Paradise(Kerouac), a young writer from New York City, ventures to cities around the country, staying with old friends, making new friends, and doing everything he can to stay alive and move on. His mentor and friend, Dean Moriarty(Neal Cassidy), often travels with Sal, always talking, laughing, and being his insane self. Now let's stop and take a brief look at the fascinating life of Dean Moriarty: Throughout the story, Dean plays several different women, has 3 wives and 4 children, half of whom he can't account for ever meeting. He was born in Salt Lake City, and grew up going to reform schools and jail. Dean was an infamous hustler in Texas and Denver who was always stealing cars and money, but never for more then $10 or just when he needed a quick ride. He was insane, always laughing and having a great time, and always getting the most he could out of life. Sal and Dean experienced some great high's and low's of travelling together, seeing such cities as Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Mexico City. Throughout the book you get to know the fascinating personalities of Sal, Dean, and several other characters.
Just as important as the story and the characters is the STYLE in which the book is written; it's this style, which gives the book its vibrant, breathless, spontaneous intensity. And, yes, this is where the book really earns its legendary status, because few other books are able to convey the exhilaration and excitement and fun of a mad attempt to "seize the day." On The Road is truly a life-affirming, free-wheeling experience. Along with On The Road, I'd also like to recommend The Losers' Club by Richard Perez, a strange little beat-influenced romance and, weirdly, the second best book I read so far this year.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, flawless story-great for the bohemian idealist!, 3 May 2005
Its a cliche, but I can't even begin to describe how this book effected and changed me, both emotionally and in my own personal outlook. In my opinion, this is how heart felt literature should be - enigmatic, intuitive and inventful. The whole Beat movement is responsible for so many modern day characteristics both in literature, music and film. Everyone seems to enjoy revelling in the nostalgia of the 'Swinging 60's' and 'Free Love', but this is really where it all started, much earlier on, in the mid-50's. Kerouac and co. are responsible for setting up and revolutinising all the liberal 'bohemian' ethoses that we have come to acknowledge and take for granted. Essentially this book is a semi-autobigraphical travel log, but it is also so much more. It suceeds on every level, as a simple narrative, as a social and political statement and as a diary of one man's adventure and self-discovery. This is the original 'Easy Rider' for the 1950's Jazz and bebop lovers. Essential for everyone, whether your a bookworm or a casual page browser. Buy and enjoy, and then read it again, again and again! You'll thank me later!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On the Road, 2 Sep 2005
One of those books that everyone should read at some time. The problem is that it should be read when one is young but can only be fully appreciated when one has lived a little. A bit of a dilemma really. I also think it is one of those books that might be better listend to rather than read so having read the book I am now going to get the CD.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Expansion of Consciousness!, 2 Sep 2004
In the errant, glowing review for the New York Times when it was first published, On The Road garnered comparisons with The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway, and with good reason -- it chronicled a "lost generation" eager to grasp at life (WWI for Hemingway's book, WWII for Kerouac's book) and expressed it in a whole new fresh way. Both books are quite lively, full of explosive description and off-the-cuff dialogue that renders the experience in a quasi-documentary-style way: that is, both books PUT YOU THERE, in the moment.
While Hemingway went on to spectacular success, embraced by Academia (but not always by the critics), Kerouac's trajectory was a lot darker. Critics (even the New York Times published a "retraction" of that initial glowing review one week later and now referred to him as a "Neanderthal with a typewriter") and Academics went out of their way to bash his spontaneously bop prosody style. No matter. Although it was shame that Kerouac (as most artists) needed to be crucified in the media, his books, his accomplishments remain. And this book, On The Road, certainly stands as one of his greatest achievements, being an expression of a cry for freedom and nonconformity -- as well as a reinvention of literary style. Possibly this would've be published as "memoir" if it appeared today. Regardless, Kerouac is a jazz poet of the highest order, his spontaneity and agility of style famously influenced by the freewheeling freedom of jazz. The descriptive passages in this book of jazz music, alone, are worth the price of this book. ( See that passage of Sal and Dean discussing the ephemeral "it," and you'll have some idea.) Even the structure of the novel is original. What can I say, this is a unique and marvelous reading experience, an explosion and heart and vigor and youth -- one experience that should not be missed! Two other quick recommendations are the Subterraneans by Kerouac and The Losers Club by Richard Perez. Enjoy these books and taste life!
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On The Road in search of a deeper meaning, 23 Mar 2005
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
I have just finished an exhilirating ride through Kerouac's almost deranged writing style. There appears to be no filters between his mind and his words and I can picture him committing this work to paper in an almost trance-like frenzy.
While many things have and can be said about this book - that it describes a hedonistic search for release and meaning, lost souls in search for the metaphorical holy grail, self-obsessed idiots using and abusing people and circumstances - to me this book is primarily about life. But this isn't life as many of us know it, this is life on the very edge of sanity where mystical experience mingles with psychosis.
I believe this is why the book is such a love/hate piece of literature. If you haven't felt the desperation in life that looms so heavily over Dean Moriarty's and Sal Paradise's heads, there is no way you can sympathize with or understand them. If I as a reader haven't had the experience of extreme dissatisfcation, of a tremendous longing for something better and an image in my mind of there being a way of living that is more genuine, more rewarding, I wouldn't be able to connect with the deeper meaning of this novel.
So in essence, this book's primary theme is a spiritual one, the search for *what is*. The frenzied protagonists Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise travelling across the somewhat grim backdrop of a post-World War 2 American landscape keep searching for this meaning in the external world of people, situations, places and experiences. The book reveals how this search goes unfulfilled, but in a way, you feel that it is not, after all, a waste of time. In a very real way, these protagonists display a level of sanity above and beyond what most of us possess, as having touched the depths of the human condition, they are among the few that go searching for more. Unwilling to let social conditioning, conformity and a sense of fitting in hold them back, their search is completely uninhibited. (and as such, probably offensive)
I believe this testament to the power of the human spirit is what makes people love the book. Possibly, what makes people hate it is that it brings to light the painful realization of how most of us go through life without ever having truly lived - living a timid life in fear of the unknown, unwilling to take a chance on something better. A simpler explanation could be the convoluted language which is difficult to interpret at times.
Even though it is obvious that the literary creations of Kerouac's (and probably Kerouac himself) go about their goal of release in ways that are in large part misinformed - primarily looking outside instead of inside, the experience of tagging along is definitely worthwhile and can teach us a thing or two about our own search for happiness. Make no mistake - in our joyless contemporary society, this work is as relevant as ever.
In conclusion, I would like to offer a parallel between the character of Dean Moriarty and my favourite Albert Einstein quote:
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed"
If this is not something you agree with, you will likely hate this book. However, if this sounds strangely familiar, I suspect this book will teach you a thing or two about life.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rapid Rush, 12 Jun 2011
By 
Christian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I can understand why this book can divide opinion on those that read, or try to read it. It tells of a life on the road, where the only pursuit is that of enjoying life. Taken in three parts it tells the tale of Sal Paradise and his travels across the country of America.

For those that have wanderlust this will take you back to the last time that you travelled enjoying the experiences on the way, as much as the destinations. And in many ways that is what the book captures best, some places flashing by and then the moments in others stretching out through the experiences that you have. The places where you achieve something that makes a difference and the places where your time just passes by.

This book is readable, though isn't the fastest starting read. Get through that and it becomes more rewarding until you are on the journey wanting to know where else it will lead. The characters flesh out as some find their own life and put down roots; and others keep chasing it on the roads.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'i think of dean moriarty', 8 May 2011
This review is from: On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
having just finished reading this book for the millionth time i thought i'd come here and review it and suggest it to others but when its comes to writing down exactly what this book does to me and my thoughts it's nigh on impossible. i first read this when i was sixteen and didn't really understand what was going on but something in it touched me enough to start raving over it, in the three years since then it's accompanied me everywhere and been read countless times by me and leant to any friend i possibly can, my copy is almost unreadable now covered in notes and scribbles and boxes around passages that make me break out in a sweat because they're so awe-inspiring and jealousy inducing for a time and lifestyle that i doubt i'll get to experience. 'magical' is the only word that i can think does it proper justice but even then it's highly lacking.

just read this book. read it anywhere and everywhere especially as i had the pleasure of doing recently under the stars by torchlight and get lost in the world of sal and think of dean moriarty and just...i could happily read this book forever.
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On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics)
On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics) by Jack Kerouac (Paperback - 24 Feb 2000)
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