Jack Kerouac – On the Road

I believe that everyone who loves reading has their favourite author and title. If you don’t like reading, you just haven’t found the right book yet. I’ve loved reading since I was a little child but I found the book which really got my attention, only 2 years ago. In that year I fell in love with Jack Kerouac and his work.

Jack Kerouac was an American author born on 12 March 1922 in Lowell, Massachusets, USA. He was one of the best-known members of the Beat Generation. When he was a little boy, his biggest hobbies were writing and sport – he was  especially good at football and basketball. Even he wanted to be a writer and write ‘a great American novel’, he was supposed to continue playing football because it was a lot more secure variant of a career. Later he got a scholarship at Columbia University.

When he was 17 years old he moved to New York, and here he fell in love with jazz. This music genre influenced him a lot. In 1940 he went to Columbia University to play football. During one of his matches, Kerouac broke his leg and later he left university. He spent the next year taking odd jobs and then he came back to New York where he met Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Together, they became leaders of The Beat Generation movement of writers. His novel On the Road brought him a lot of success but he has never been able to deal with the fame. Despite continuing in writing he became addicted to alcohol, which killed him. Jack Kerouac died on 21 October 1969.

Author: Tom Palumbo from New York, NY, USA – Jack Kerouac, CC BY-SA 2.0, httpr://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4071339

On the Road became kind of a manifesto for the Beat Generation. There are many myths about how Kerouac wrote his masterpiece. It is told that he wrote it in 3 weeks. Actually, he was making notes in his diary for years. He was writing on 120 feet long role of paper because he did not want to interrupt his thoughts. In the original version of On the Road, Kerouac named the characters after him and his friends. Later he renamed characters as Sal Paradise (originally Jack Kerouac), Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady) and Carlo Marx (Allen Ginsberg).

On the cover of On the Road published by Penguin Books you can see Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac.

On the Road is a story of a young aspiring writer Sal Paradise who lives with his aunt in New York. He is calm and is fits into society but his life is not good enough for him. He surrounds himself with philosophers and mad people who stand out from other people. One day Sal meets Dean Moriarty and his wife of 16 years Marylou. Sal immediately begins to look up to Dean and they become friends. Even when Dean leaves New York, they keep in touch.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Sal decides to visit Dean in Denver because of a letter he got from him. Even though their path’s split, they are still friends and meet each other again and again. Sal is trying to teach Dean how to write better, both of them love jazz and drinking. Dean is trying to find his father and he loves two women at once – Marylou and Camille. He becomes a father but he leaves his wife Camille.

Sal and Dean want to go to Mexico and their dream comes true one day. They enjoy few days full of Mexican food, people, drinking and drugs. Sal gets sick and Dean leaves him in Mexico on his own. When Sal comes back to New York, he meets Dean once again. Sal can’t forgive him what happened in Mexico. And that is the last time they see each other.

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”

On the Road is a story about a great friendship, passion for jazz and wine, travelling and writing. This book is one of my favourites probably because it really reflects who Jack Kerouac was. I don’t agree with him about everything, such as his attitude to alcohol, but I have to appreciate his attitude to life and determination to become a better writer. I don’t think that everyone will like this book. When you want to read Kerouac, you have to be in the right mood for it. But once you fall in love with Jack Kerouac, you will love him forever.

And to make it easier for you, there is also a film On the Road with Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart in the main roles. But as always, the book is thousand times better.

Thank you for your attention.

Have a nice day and give a chance to Jack Kerouac!


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