On the Road by Jack Kerouac

This is one of those novels that seemed almost like nonfiction. It is based on Kerouac’s actual journeys across America so a lot of it was probably real. The inconsistency and wildness seemed too strange to be fiction at times. I don’t know what is fact and what is fiction.

I liked Kerouac’s style early on. Sal the protagonist is observant, perceptive and largely optimistic about life. The novel is set in a time just right after the war and even with all the drug use, sex, and madness, there is a certain innocence of America in that time. It was before the Cold War became central, the 1960s, Vietnam and the turbulent decades for America’s loss of innocence.

It took me longer than read this book. I was a bit stuck one third and half way through the book because while many things do happen in the book, there isn’t a formal plot per se. It meanders with vignettes which did not make me likely to pick it up.

The use of stream of consciousness increased in the book as well. There were times when I felt things were getting worse as the book wore on. There were the same adventures over and over. Sometimes, it felt sadder by the chapter.

The end with Mexico was interesting though, and in general, I liked Kerouac’s writing. I would read his works again.

Read June 23-30 2013.

On the Road (2012)

I had almost no expectations of this movie except the cast. The two male leads are up and coming, but there is a great supporting cast of Viggo Mortensen, Elizabeth Moss, Terence Howard, Steve Buscemi, Kirsten Dunst, and Amy Adams.

Strangely, I think everyone was way too conventionally good looking especially Dean who was almost too pretty. Apparently, Kerouac wanted Marlon Brando to play Dean which makes more sense to me. Garett Hedlund did a decent job though. Dean is a bit too mysterious and is a character that does not always garner sympathy. In a short movie, you can only get so much of the guy. At least in the book, there is time to consider the character more and feel for him.

Sam Riley as Sal’s had some atrocious French for a character with French-Canadian parents. Other than that, he was decent too. The setting, period pieces, music and other production values were fine as well.

Overall, I found the film a bit boring and gratuitous. The book has a lot of sex and drugs too, but there was a lot of former in the movie. It is not an easy movie to adapt. I do not think they necessarily captured the spirit of the book. I would not recommend it for those who truly appreciate the book.

Watched June 30, 2013.

2 thoughts on “On the Road by Jack Kerouac

  • Joseph

    You are more generous with Kerouac than I. I’m a bit loathe to share reviews of books I dislike…matter of taste…all that. Why should I spoil something if someone else enjoys it. But, I try to compare at least two other reviews, to compare notes. Since you didn’t seem to love On the Road, I thought I couldn’t do too much damage. A very astute review, a bit more analytical than my own. It’s nice to find someone that doesn’t rave about it.

    • athena (Post author)

      Hi Joseph! I try to find the good in everything including the books I read so I understand. I didn’t love On the Road, but I may try Kerouac again. Thank you for the candid comment. Happy reading.


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