Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On The Road by Jack Kerouac - BBC Top 100 Reads 88/100

Billed as the ultimate road trip book, 'On The Road' is a semi autobiographical tale of two friends searching for fulfilment by travelling back and forth across the United States. While the book regales us with their exploits and vivid descriptions of the characters they meet, what it failed to ignite me with, was any sort of empathy for the characters involved. We learn very little about Sal Paradise, the main character, other than he tends to go from one exploit to another. There is no reason given for his travels, other than he can do this and therefore he does. His travelling companion, Dean's ill regard of women, does not make him any more likeable, impregnating several women in the space of a few months. What I also failed to understand was what either one of them attempted to achieve from their travels. Was it some sort of hedonistic interpretation of chasing the American dream?

I'm also not sure whether the author was trying to mirror 'The Catcher In The Rye' in some form, but whilst Salinger succeeded in gaining the readers sympathy of his main character, Holden Caulfield, I ended up despising Sal Paradise and his travelling companions with a passion. Definitely one that I won't return to and definitely not one of the great American reads.


Anonymous said...

That sounds like a good read. I need to get my teeth stuck into a good book soon. I quitefancy 'The Slap' by Christos Tsolkas.

Check it out if you get a chance.
Hope everything is going well with you and yours.

Take care
Kate Collings

Phil Lowe said...

Nice review and honest. I guess not all main characters are or have to be likable. I haven't read this classic but maybe it resonated with the mood in the USA when it was written.

Kerouac fan said...

O.K. Janette,
With your perceptive review of Kerouac's OTR like that - you've got the job at the BBC, start Monday!
Al of 'Kerouac Beat_Happening' site.

Janette Jones said...

Hi Kate, I was disappointed that it didn't ignite me more and yes I quite fancy 'The Slap' as well, I may be it on my book club list.

Phil - There is honesty in your comments! Indeed not all main characters have to be liked and perhaps this was the author's intention and yes perhaps it mirrored the time it was written in.
Kerouac Fan - I did want to like this, but just didn't get it. Perhaps it's one of those that I pick up in a few years time and have a better understanding of - who knows?!