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“That’s not writing. That’s typing.”

Of Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote famously said, “That’s not writing. That’s typing.”

While I’ll agree that Kerouac is no Fitzgerald, he does have his moments.

This passage, for example, which is one of my favorites in the novel:

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”

Such a haunting, descriptive passage. I’m guessing we’ve all had a moment like that, maybe after waking up from a long nap or after a vivid dream. Kerouac does a wonderful job of describing that feeling.

The overall feeling of On The Road is one of sadness. That’s despite Sal’s and (especially) Dean’s outward “happiness” and frantic energy.

This is a good novel, though I’m not as in love with as I was when I first read it in my 20s. Not surprising.

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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great little post! I found the book so frustrating when I read it at 17, perhaps I’ll love if I re-read in my early 20s.

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    December 11, 2015
  2. Travel is transformative; therefore, it is hard.

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    December 11, 2015
  3. ,

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    December 11, 2015
  4. I just bought a used copy on Amazon last week. I didn’t read it when I was young.

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    December 11, 2015
  5. I preferred Maggie Cassidy to On The Road.

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    December 11, 2015
  6. I think this is one of those books that has to be read at a certain time in your life for the full impact.

    Liked by 2 people

    December 11, 2015
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      Liked by 1 person

      December 12, 2015
  7. This actually describes a time in my life perfectly. Travelling and partying and living the whirlwind of youth. One morning I woke in a strange room not remembering who I was. It was weird and lovely and too brief. Like a moment of pure ego loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 12, 2015
  8. Great little quote from Capote, and great passage from Kerouac.

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    December 13, 2015
  9. I never really understood what people saw in that novel. It is pretty solid and yes, it has its moments, but I tend to see as being too overly hyped for what it actually is. But oh well, who am I to talk anyway …

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    December 13, 2015
  10. J.E. Fountain #

    I tend to agree with Capote…although I think it’s a bit disingenuous (from a contemporary, competing author), it seems rather petty in context. I hate to be so critical, but I really disliked On the Road. Something Sal Paradise said, seems to fit Kerouac…that he had nothing to offer anyone but his own confusion. My review: http://100greatestnovelsofalltimequest.blogspot.com/2011/11/on-road-by-jack-kerouac-1957-4-down-96.html

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    December 13, 2015
  11. L.H. #

    I think a lot of it has to do with when you are reading a novel and how invested you are perhaps in the emotions of the characters. I read On the Road when I was 19 and had just started travelling and felt Kerouac was encapsulating some of my own feelings within the text. Some of his descriptions, such as the one you picked out above, do seem to just stay with the reader. That being said though I’m rereading the novel for my final year of university now and I’m really hoping my romance with the novel won’t be squashed.

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    December 15, 2015
  12. Short and lovely post. This has been in my ‘to-read’ books. Should check it out soon

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    December 17, 2015
  13. Wow! That’s a great quote!

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    December 18, 2015
  14. Meghana #

    Among all the top mentioned books One Book for Life Success is the best inspirational
    book because i had already gone through this book.I got inspired & motivated through many concepts in this book.

    Like

    December 21, 2015

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