Friday, August 12, 2016
Reading Through the Classics: On the Road
AUTHOR: Jack Kerouac
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A guy and his friends travel around the USA .
MY THOUGHTS: I'm going to be completely honest: I...did not like this book. At all. Are some of the prose very pretty? Sure. Do I understand its importance in the Beat Movement? Absolutely. Doesn't change the fact that I was bored too tears while reading this. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: all the pretty writing and great prose in the world is not going to save your book, if your story is as dull as dishwater.
That is my big issue with it: it's boring. It's basically a constant repeat of the narrator going 1) we traveled to this spot, here's who we traveled with. 2) We had booze in this place, and had sex here. If there wasn't sex, there was sexist commentary aimed at the women who didn't give them sex. There was also some racist commentary thrown in for good measure. Yes, I know, it's the fifties. Keroauc was a product of his time/insert excuse here. Doesn't mean I have to like the sexism/racism.
While there could be a case made for how Kereouac did present a non-filtered view of the US...it doesn't change the fact that literally nothing happened. It was just the narrator and his friends traveling and honestly being jerks while...doing nothing, really. Unless you count partying as doing something. It says something that the most interesting part of this book for me was the introduction that talked about the publication process of this book, Kerouac's life and the book's influence on the Beat Movement. When your introduction is more interesting then your story, you've got problems.
This is one case where I actually wish I had an English teacher there to give context to this book. This was my first Beat Movement book so perhaps that was an issue with why I couldn't connect with this book at all. In any case, this was not a classic for me. I will be trying other Beat books though, this is just an early example of the movement and from what I understand it changed over the course of time. Perhaps there are Beat books out there that actually have a plot and aren't completely sexist and racist like this one was. Though that's a big perhaps. It was the fifties/sixties after all.
WHO SHOULD READ: Lit fans I guess, Jack Kerouac fans, those interested in the Beat Movement