2010: 120. On The Road

“I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.”

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

        Oh, On the Road. I avoided you for so long, because the kind of people who say On the Road is their favorite book are the worst people.  Seriously, they are.  But it’s on the Modern Library list, so I finally girded my loins and read it.  And, as I said more succinctly on Facebook, the thing is, this is a pretty well written book.  There are some pretty good passages.  But my god, are the characters assholes.  And since they are well-known stand-ins for Kerouac and his buddies, I can only conclude that they, also were super big assholes.  I mean, I can get behind passages like “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...”  But, actually, people like that are extraordinarily tiresome.  I understand the fifties were a repressive time and we had throw off our bonds and just live, man, but these days, people like Sal and Dean aren’t counterculture revolutionaries - they are bums and thieves.  And part of me thinks that maybe they always were.  And that’s not even touching on the oh my lord misogyny and the racism and homophobia.  I mean, not to be a crotchety old lady but Kerouac and his friend (or, ok, Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty and his friends) suck.  So while I was pleasantly surprised by the writing, I cannot imagine a circumstance in which I would be reading more Kerouac.  Or seeing the forthcoming movie, unless someone tells me that it shows the characters for what they are, not what they think they are.  Ugh.

Categories:  Fiction, Modern Library Top 100

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017