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on 25 July 2017
First of all, other reviewers who pointed out that this books is boring and pointless are correct. You won't find a story in this book, there won't be a beginning, a middle or an end. But you will find a certain magic that is hard to explain, a magic that comes out of the poetry that is in every page, that connects you straight to the soul of the beatnik culture.
I understand that this kind of poetic writing is not for all, some people may like it and some may not, but i think it is worth it to give it a chance.
I personally read it 3 times translated in my native language and i bought it now in english too, so i can finally enjoy it in its original form!
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on 25 January 2018
A blazing, youthful book, packed with energy and sadness, rebellion and disaffection: don't read this if you're looking for a plot or some kind of linear storytelling, read it for the evocation of mood, and Kerouac's 'spontaneous writing' that fizzes with vigour and force.

Set in 1947, this is imbued with the casual racism/misogyny/homophobia of the times, but there's something deeply hypnotic about Kerouac's prose and the final journey when Sal, at least, has started to understand the cost of the road is poignant and close to philosophical.
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on 9 June 2013
Almost impossible to pick a star-rating for this one. Hated it and was often bored by it at the same time as being seriously impressed and occasionally wowed. I am very glad that I've read it, it will stay with me, and it reached places other books haven't reached.

It's impossible to like such selfish, amoral people, descending like locusts across America, free-loading off and laying waste the lives of their struggling, impoverished friends, relations and lovers as well as strangers and figures of authority, acquiring no insight or philosophy beyond a hunger for more in a search for "IT" that reminded me of similar futile journeys into self in the sixties.

It's hard to be interested in the repetitious succession of their exploits, described and thrown into the slipstream of whatever breakneck crossing of the continent we are now on. (Essential by the way to read this with an atlas at hand.)

What seriously impressed me was the writing! Yes, Kerouac bashed a draft out on a continuous roll of paper in 3 weeks, but this was NOT a first draft. Yes, he undertook these mad road-trips, but he spent most of his life at home with his mother writing and fretting about writing. In her introduction, Ann Charters (who knew and worked with Kerouac) tells in some detail how he had been struggling, rewriting, researching other writers, debating with other writers for years to find the emotionally-charged way of catching the thing about 'On the Road' that he wanted. The 3-week draft was an experiment in style to try to catch this. Still plagued by doubt he produced further drafts after this one. The critic, Cowley, who championed him and finally got the book published suggested revisions that he adopted to make it more readable. Additional changes were made without Kerouac's say-so by an in-house editor. What survives all the angst, and rewriting, and furious typing, and chopping, and cutting, and second thoughts is the emotionally-charged style he was after, and it is seriously impressive. The sense of the USA in all its vastness and variety is a first for this reader. Some of the descriptions of place, people and feeling are almost literally breathtaking.

By the end I was sad, not disappointed. For the characters, for Kerouac (who died in his 40s from an abdominal haemorrhage brought on by alcohol), and for America, both then and since. Ann Charters says Kerouac envisioned "On the Road" as a quest novel like "Don Quixote" or "The Pilgrim's Progress". And yes, there is more awareness of futility here than meets the eye. The narrator Sal shows often that he knows that he and Dean Moriarty are destroying lives, getting nowhere, ruining their health, wasting their youth, even as he rushes headlong to do more of the same, hoping the American dream will be around the next corner... "the point being that we know what IT is and we know TIME and we know that everything is really FINE."
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on 15 August 2017
One of my favourite novels of all time. Reading it again as an older man brought it new meaning. So much so that I quit my job and began hitchhiking across the county. Didn't really work out, ended up stranded in Kidderminster. The wife soon left me. But at least I've got the book.
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on 12 January 2017
Wonderfully written with a style that for me is a cocktail from the straightforwardness of Hemmingway with the lost atmosphere of beat down american working culture in tom Sawyer and huckleberry fin with a slice of Gatsby hedonistic party feel. A great American novel about the dissolution of the great American purpose. In subtle revelations the novel explores a post war youths search for meaning in the dry sweating feverish pursuit of purpose through enjoyment with a want for true fulfilment at its core. Dean morriarty and his endeavor to squeeze life dry for kicks is so commendably human and such a desperately relatable impulse but ultimately it fails and he the main characters and america at large can only find true meaning only in the quietest hours with people whoms simple life he finds utterly compelling. The road a symbol for true meaning and fulfilment takes our characters through elastic ecstatic ecstacies of jazz women weed and want but leaves them lost poor divorced criminals acting on pure wild implosion many occasions. rather than a dismissal of this theory the novel 100% affirms this philosophy as the only one outside of religion that has any hole of saving mans soul. "yes, yes, yes!"
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on 30 November 2014
This was a book that I didn't read at the time it came out- I was xx at the time. So all these long years after for some reason- listening to the radio and having a recent-adopter Kindle I went the electronic route and now read it on the tube (and other places), as if I was on a kind of mini-mini-road myself. I'm halfway through the book.
Now that I am creakingly ancient, I do not have the same wanderlust I once had- ok there's an amazing waterfall in Argentina that my dentist is currently visiting with his wife. But I don't feel the urge to go halfway around the world to see it 'before I pop my clogs'. I think the message of the sometimes breathless and funny prose is that any journey is interior. We go out to get the data and return to process it and remodel the world (if we're the least bit reflective) in the light of experience.
So maybe that is the real underlying message- you can leave for somewhere else but you'll always take your baggage with you... so you'd better sort your baggage out...... I'd better keep sorting my own baggage out! It's a good read.
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on 16 October 2013
Intense, very finely detailed, impressionist account of endless non-stop manic coast to coast travel at high speed in beaten up shared or stolen jalopy cars, pushed beyond their limits by the wild Dean Moriarty, ever in hyper mode. There's no plot but there is a story. The repetitive continuum is boring, but that's the impressionistic success of the book. Ultimately unsettled, life at breakneck speed, a constant neurosis. A web of drugs, drink, sex, theft and volatile aimlessness. Only in Mexico, where there is impoverishment, is there also, ultimately, empathy.

But this dispersed unsettled interstate community does in some strange way coalesce. There is unspoken mutual understanding and tolerance of crazed behaviour. There's anger and there's care. It's an accepting human network. Tucked within the spaghetti travel narrative there are some literary gems where the writing is of immense quality and depth. There's also riotous humour. Compared to clones of the American dream, these guys have really messed up. But however freely and wildly, they have lived, and they have related. Perhaps that's the point.
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on 1 May 2014
This is a deservedly popular 20th century book but some however could find it deeply irritating, in other words you will either love or loathe it. The Author is the character Sal Paradise and his long time companion is Dean Moriarty who together criss crossed the USA time and time again seemingly just for the thrill of being on the road, seeking out great Jazz music and in so doing meeting an eclectic collection of different people along the way. They sometimes formed deep relationships but ultimately all that mattered was themselves. I confess I was unaware that the drug fuelled,selfish,hedonistic life they led existed so long ago in the USA. To many a classic book, but I'm pretty sure it won't change your life though as Bob Dylan once said but it is fascinating social commentary from the immediate post war period.
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on 24 January 2014
A phenomenal read and classic writing. Jack has an eye for observational detail and had a mad life of criss crossing America, a life style any adventurer can only dream off, admire and aspire to. HIs prose and poetic lyrics are superior and his observation of the human spirit and behaviour is a modern day classic.

I thoroughly enjoyed and the book provides the perfect infill to the movie, which in itself was a hugely enjoyable experience. I would certainly read another one of Jack's books to see how he developed as a writer, a human and how the leader of the Beat Generation lived his life.

A man and writer to aspire to. Like Jack said, 'we should burr, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..."
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on 4 June 2013
I picked up a copy of this classic at a friend's house and started re-reading it after 40 odd years and was pleasantly surprised. In my mind I recalled the novel being more crazy and disorganised than it actually is. I realised why it influenced me so much at the time (early Sixties) - the rather hectic and naïve optimism of Jack's travels chimed precisely with my own feelings back then. I did literally go off hitching around the UK and Europe with On The Road in my back pocket (also, a little cash, backpack and guitar). So Kerouac was a great influence on me and many others of my generation.
What I remember most about the book, and was confirmed recently, was the picture it painted of America. So often, then and now, we are presented with a glamorised or highly edited view of the USA but On The Road (and later novels) seems more wide ranging and believable even if Jack's alter-ego is often drunk or stoned or, when sober, keen to invest more in the places he visits than is perhaps warranted. It's a helter-skelter ride but the reflective passages, especially in later books, balance that and give Kerouac's writing more depth than he is sometimes credited with.
All-in-all a highly recommended read. If for no other reason than to discover where many contemporary writers (including poets and songwriters) got much inspiration.
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