I’ve been wondering why all these authors were grouped together. According to Wikipedia’s entry; “The Beat Generation was a group of American post-World War II writers who came to prominence in the 1950’s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired. Central elements of “Beat” culture included rejection of received standards, innovations in style, experimentation with drugs, alternative sexualities, an interest in Eastern religion, a rejection of materialism, and explicit portrayals of the human condition”
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
I am so happy I can finally say I finished reading “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac! I don’t why, but it’s taken me over a year to get through this book. I can cross off 1 out of the 4 authors. Although, these other authors are featured a bit in the book so I almost can stop here. But I won’t, I’ll try to get through one book by each person.
I started reading this book and immediately noticed that there were no paragraphs or chapters. Guess that’s what they mean by Kerouac’s spontaneous prose style of writing. He rambled on and on about people and his adventures between the years 1947 to 1950. I think that is what made it hard for me to get into the story. The rambling, odd descriptions of what was happening, how he viewed other people, side thoughts or insights, and tangent stories. I told my mom that it felt like I sat down with Kerouac to hear about his adventure over a drink. We all get that way (mostly) with telling someone about a trip right? Start a story, remember other stories, go off on tangents, and then go back to the main story. And there’s no breaks, unless you would count another person interrupting the storyteller.
I had to ask for clarification on a few slang terms and expressions. And after a few pages of reading, I forgot what I had read before. Got the gist of everything, but if I had to go back to write a better review, or a paper on this, I would basically have to reread it all over.
After finishing the book, I am now curious on reading some papers delving into what people think he was writing about and see what they interpret as the meaning behind or into the story. I didn’t understand the difference in this edition as opposed to the original edition published in 1957. It is pretty cool that he first typed this story up on one long piece of paper (120-foot roll of teletype paper), hence why the “scroll”. Later on, he had to break it up and write on normal sheets of paper. He also changed the names of the characters in the story so there would be no libel suits. I read names like Jack Kerouac, is also known as Salvatore “Sal” Paradise. And his other main character, Neal Cassady, is also Dean Moriarty.
It was hilarious, and I don’t think a spoiler, to get toward the end of the story and have it stop abruptly. I was about to get mad, but on the next page there was a note from the editor that it stopped there because the last bit of the scroll had been chewed off by a dog. The editor also noted that based on notes and Kerouc’s published story, he added the last bit.
I thought it interesting on Wikipedia’s page that they had a section of public reception for the book. Both for when it first was published and the current reactions to it, 50 years later. I would say the perception of the story and characters probably have changed drastically over the years.