Review: On The Road

Sal Paradise, a young innocent, joins the slightly crazed Dean Moriarty on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac’s exhilarating novel defined the new ‘Beat’ generation. It had tremendous impact on both sides of the Atlantic and made him famous overnight.

Parts of this book made me want to go to sleep and I’d find myself yawning and blinking my eyes rapidly to focus, but at the same time I enjoyed parts of it. In particular the first 150 pages and the last 3 pages. Maybe that’s odd that I mention the last three pages and a part of me actually thinks it is. It’s odd because those parts stand out very clear cut and the rest of the story, even though it’s all in my head and I didn’t miss any detail, seems to be not as obvious to me.

Or maybe it’s just because at some point the book ends up being all the same because even though there is a lot going on with these people there is also nothing going on whatsoever. Nothing seems to change even when there are changes. It’s all so linear which perplexes me because if this is out of Jack Kerouac’s life, well I’ve read true to life stories that weren’t linear at all or flat. They had deviations. They went up and down. There was far more emotion in most of them.

That’s another factor about On The Road that I’ve noticed. There’s plenty of interesting characters in there, most of who are crazy and hyper, but even though a lot of these characters are so full of energy and all over the place with their emotions I didn’t feel any emotions at all towards them. I felt emotionless right up the last three pages.

As for the linear aspect of it, I wonder if that’s because he wrote the whole thing in one go? How often do you read a novel or book written by someone who wrote it all in one go? How often do you read something written so quickly that it hasn’t had the chance to be subjected to several emotions over time? Maybe that’s why it is linear and emotionless to me, yet frenetic. It is such a frenetic story and the characters are also so frantic. They’re all nuts, kind of pathetic, and not always very nice people. Actually most of them are just arseholes. One is a complete maniac, childish, self absorbed, and a real arsehole when you think of it. Obviously I’m talking about Dean. Dean and all the women around him are all nut jobs. I also think Sal (Jack) is a complete dumbarse. Actually I think just about all the characters in this story are the type of people I would never want to be involved with in any shape or form, even if it’s asking for directions or something. Not because it’s a beat generation and they’re all poor. Not that at all, but because they’re all arseholes and nut cases.

Other than that Jack Kerouac wrote some beautiful lines, very entertaining descriptions, and it’s very interesting to read  something that you know was written in one go. Especially from a writer’s perspective. I’m quite impressed with it because of that, but otherwise I find it’s only a good read for pop culture purposes and to understand what others are on about. For me it is at least, even though at the same time my brain seems to have clung to the story and I want to follow everyone after it.

I find it funny as well that I can’t stand these people and their idiocy, but I don’t hate the story. I think perhaps if it was written differently, even though I feel it’s devoid of emotion, then I’d probably hate it. I don’t hate it. I don’t even dislike it. The problem is I don’t see the attraction to it and why so many people romanticise a lifestyle of disloyalty, self absorption, disrespect to themselves and others, and bad manners. You can have travel and have a bid for freedom without those things so if you’re a fan of On The Road and especially if you want to live it can you please explain to me what the appeal is and what you loved about it?

Reading Guides: On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Each month I’ll be posting points discussed at the my book club for those who are curious about what we talk about ( including points made prior, but not discussed) or need a reading guide for the book for their own clubs. You’ll find a list of all reading guides on the reading guides page. You’re welcome to use it and to adapt the questions to your own social group use, but if you do and have a website or blog please link back using one of these badges.

August’s book was On The Road by Jack Kerouac. It was funny because no one actually finished it except myself (that cracks me up) so were able to discuss it in parts, but not as a whole. We’ll be discussing it on the book club’s Facebook group, but in the meantime I’ll still be posting the points that I was going to use as our guide for the meet up.

Dean and Sal

  • Did Dean have any good points in being a role model? Or was Dean just a bad influence all round?
  • Does anyone think that Sal would have had just as much urge to travel as he did without Dean’s influence?
  • Do you think the same for the rest of his friends? What role do you think they played in his need to move?
  • How do you think Sal reacts to Dean’s obsession with women and sex? Do you think he looks upon it with jealousy, envy, admiration, or something else? Continue reading

In My Mailbox: From Someone Else’s

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, busy with life and technical problems (caused by a thunder storm that fried the modem!) so I thought my first post in awhile shouldn’t be a review (even though I have been reading, but all I’ve read in the last few weeks is The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine and I don’t think I can do a review when I’ve read several. It would be more like an overview. I may post something like that next week), but something with pictures…

So seeing as I haven’t had anything in my mail box for awhile and even though I still haven’t had any in my mailbox recently I have received some books from Sarah who got them in her mailbox so I’m going to count that. Plus they’re just books I’ve wanted for so long…

I’ve taken pictures of each book (I’ve received four books) and there is one that is a bit more… Well it’s a book by Carlton Mellick III who is a Bizarro Fiction writer so I can say nude, but it’s a nude that’s in a position a lot of people may find offensive. I’ve posted that one last so everyone can see the ones before it without seeing that one if you do not wish to.

Note: I may be a little rambling because I’m quite tired and haven’t blogged in so long. I seem to get like that when I don’t blog on a regular basis.

On The Road which I’m reading so I won’t post a synopsis just yet (actually I think I won’t post a synopsis of any of them until I review them) as I’ll be reviewing it when I’m finished. This is also the first book I’m reading for the book club I organised in my area (if anyone is interested here’s a link to our Facebook page and if you want to know more you can reach me through that page or leave a comment here).

I actually have only recently considered reading On The Road, but only out of curiosity and finally decided to read it after one of my good mates and Sarah said to read it. I then decided it might be a good book to start with for the book club because it’s not something I would normally read and it’s on a broader scale (instead of say being horror or vampires or homicidal maniacs like I would have liked to read…) which may be better when there’s several members with different tastes.

Kallocain is dystopia that gets compared a little to Brave New World (one of my favourite books) by Aldous Huxley, because unlike 1984 by George Orwell, it’s a dystopia setting that involves subordination via drugs. I’ve been meaning to get my hands on a copy of Kallocain by Karin Boye and Kazohinia by Sandor Szathmari, but unfortunately Kazohinia seems to be unavailable everywhere. Luckily Kallocain, even though it’s not mainstream or that well known, is still more available then Kazohinia.

Karin Boye is Swedish and Kallocain was published in 1940. It’s considered to be a classic amongst the dystopian genre which is one reason why I’m really excited to finally have a copy.

The God That Failed is a collection of essays on Communism which is something I don’t necessarily agree with, but is used in a lot of dystopic and Russian Literature and I love both of those.

Published in 1949 I believe, the essays are written by both writers and journalists who are or were ex-communists and it delves into their disillusionment with communism and why they abandoned it.

The writers and journalists include Richard Wright, Stephen Spender, Arthur Koestler, Louis Fischer, Ignazio Silone, and Andrew Gide.

It’s probably going to take me longer to read it being essays, but then again it may not. I have been wanting to read this one in awhile so we’ll see.

Satan Burger by Carlton Mellick III, The first Bizarro Fiction novel I’ll read if I don’t count The Story of The Eye by Georges Bataille and I think that’s classic Bizarro (if he wasn’t writing that to exorcise some demons and to try and blatantly shock the pants off some people then I don’t know what he was on about). I was drawn to this novel by the name first, then the synopsis which cracked me right up and it still amuses me when I read it over. I’m going to share it for anyone who appreciates a sick sense of humour (like mine can be), but it’s not for everyone so if you choose to read it be open minded.

Satan Burger Synopsis

God hates you. All of you. He closed the gates of Heaven and wants you to rot on Earth forever. Not only that, he is repossessing your souls and feeding them to a large vagina-shaped machine called the Walm–an interdimensional doorway that brings His New Children into the world. He loves these new children, but He doesn’t love you. They are more interesting than you. They are beautiful, psychotic, magical, sex-crazed, and deadly. They are turning your cities into apocalyptic chaos, and there’s nothing you can do about it …

Featuring: a narrator who sees his body from a third-person perspective, a man whose flesh is dead but his body parts are alive and running amok, an overweight messiah, the personal life of the Grim Reaper, lots of classy sex and violence, and a motley group of squatter punks that team up with the devil to find their place in a world that doesn’t want them anymore.

It’s books like that, that make me feel more normal with my disturbed imagination. I plan on reading most of these fairly soon if I keep up my reading consistency which going by today isn’t going too well. I don’t know what is wrong with me this year. I’ve only read into the 20’s and usually by this point in the year I’m at 50 minimum. Maybe there’s just too much to do and too much escapism to take part in.