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Next Up: On The Road

This will be my second (maybe third?) go around with On The Road. About 15 years ago, I would’ve told you that On the Road was one of my favorite novels.

These days? I’m not so sure.

It’s the perfect novel for a 24 year old who’s still trying to figure stuff out—and one who can pick up and go on a road trip across the country on a few day’s notice. But that’s not me anymore…so I wonder how my age and life situation will influence my view of this novel.

I guess we’ll find out.

Here are a few fun facts about On the Road and Jack Kerouac:

  • The novel, broken up into five “books,” was published in 1957 at the height of the beat movement.
  • In addition to appearing on the Time list, the novel was named the 55th best English Language novel of the 20th Century by the Modern Library.
  • On the Road is a roman a clef, a fancy French term meaning characters in the novel represent real people. Examples: Kerouac is represented by the narrator, Sal Paradise. Old Bull Lee represents William Burroughs (he of Naked Lunch fame). Carlo Marx represents Allen Ginsberg.
  • The novel was supposedly typed out on a continuous 120-foot long scroll in just three weeks.
  • The original scroll was purchased by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay in 2001 for a cool $2.4 million.
  • A feature film based on the novel was released in 2012, starring Sam Riley as Sal, Garrett Hedlund as Dean, Kirsten Dunst as Camille, and Kristen Stewart as Mary Lou.

That’s it for now.

We’ll talk a lot more about this novel, its influence, and its reception in the coming weeks.

And while we’re talking about being on the road, I’ll mention here that I won’t be posting on Monday and Wednesday of next week. See you next Friday!

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. In fact, most of Kerouac’s books can boast of the “roman a clef” tag.
    Having read “The Dharma Bums”, I consider it to be the perfect embodiment of spirituality, and I cannot forget the character it had named Japhy Ryder. He represented Allen Ginsberg. And he represented him so well!
    In more relevant news, I’m so glad to find a response to “On The Road” that doesn’t comment on the style of writing. Waiting for more posts on this topic.
    I am a huge fan of the Beats.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 6, 2015
  2. You know, Jack Kerouac could have really used that $2.4 million dollars. Unfortunately ol’ Jack got Van Goghed. It’s always the collector and not the Artist.

    Liked by 3 people

    November 6, 2015
  3. Funniest thing – I literally JUST got this to read it for the first time. I am, in fact, at 24-year-old (living in Paris) and trying to figure my life out. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it now that you’re older and wiser!


    November 6, 2015
  4. I listened to this while delivering newspapers a few years ago. Strange times.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 6, 2015
  5. whitneyibc #

    I had a really hard time reading On the Road as an adult with obligations. It made me feel super old and unadventurous and unexciting. I hope you have better luck than I did!

    Liked by 1 person

    November 6, 2015
  6. It’s so interesting how your views on literature and other art forms can change so much with age, or just where you’re at in your life. I need to read some of Kerouac’s stuff; I’ve only read excerpts of Big Sur for a lit class.


    November 6, 2015
  7. I tried reading this–many times–when I was 18, 19, 20…I just couldn’t do it. It felt like so much “Look at me and my friends doing cool Beatnik things!” I knew many people, though, when I was in grad school who said this novel almost made them pack up and move west (young man), like to Colorado or Washington.


    November 7, 2015
  8. mee #

    Didn’t know the original scroll is private owned! I saw it myself when it was exhibited at the British Library a couple of years ago.


    November 10, 2015
  9. Had to read this for my AP Literature Class in high-school.. Not sure how I felt about it


    November 12, 2015
  10. Read it once, in my 20’s. And, I realized I really didn’t care about the “Beats”.


    November 23, 2015

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