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.