On the Road by Jack Kerouac is a book I’ve put off reading for all my adult life. It’s had an impact on my life but I’ve neglected to stop and examine it. Now it’s time. The Read-along sponsored by Wallace at Unputdownables was perfect timing. I’ll be reading and evaluating this book in small chunks each week for the next two months. I won’t share my thoughts every week but I will weigh in a few more times. I’m very interested in knowing what others readers of this book have thought.
On the Road is the (semi-autobiographical) story of a road trip taken by the narrator, Sal Paradise, back in the late 1940s/1950s. Sal is a young man eager to explore the United States. He wants to meet-up with friends living outside of his home area of New Jersey/New York City. He doesn’t have a lot of money so his mode of transportation is car and train. As his money runs short, he primarily hitchhikes.
The author and this novel are significant because of their effect on the “Beat Generation” of the 1950s and the subsequernt hippie movement of the 1960s/1970s. On the Road is said to be the “bible of the countercultural generation.” The “bible” is said to set the standard for a lifestyle of sex and drugs and an attitude of anti-establishment.
I’ve only read the first six chapters and so far I haven’t noticed it’s supposed negative influence. To me the first six chapters were all about the fun Sal was having meeting interesting people on his trip from New York to Denver. Since I was born in 1940, the ambiance of these first six chapters is much like that of my childhood. People willingly helped out strangers. In fact, there is the sense that no one is really a stranger. So – so far, so good. I’m enjoying it.
If you are interested in also reading along, please visit Wallace here: Unputdownables.