Title: On the Road (the Original Scroll)
Author: Jack Kerouac
Published: 1957 (written 1951)
Genre: Autobiographical Novel
Rating: Barely 3/5
On the Road is an autobiographical telling of Kerouac’s travel adventures with his friends and fellow Beat Generation artists. They travel back and forth across the United States numerous times seemingly without a true endgame in mind. Romantic relationships come and go, and the friendship clusters fluctuate throughout the story.
My view of this book might be skewed since I have not read the popular edited version, but overall I am not a huge fan of this story.
I love the fact that it is the original scroll. It is fascinating to see how his brain/creative process threw the words out and in such a short amount of time (three weeks). For that reason, the format doesn’t bother me (one long block of text with no paragraphs or indentations). And I love that it has the original names so we know who exactly in history he is talking about.
Rough drafts are… rough… so I’ll be lenient in that respect. I know from personal experience that rough drafts need plenty of care and attention to sculpt them into a digestible format. My criticism of this story is not based off of that; it is based off of the characters.
For me to truly love and enjoy a book, I need characters that I can either relate to or empathize with. I almost had that with Kerouac’s character, but I couldn’t quite get there. The hero worship of Neal Cassady ruined it for me, and I think that’s because in real life I can’t stand when people idolize and blindly follow other humans. As for Cassady, I couldn’t stand him. Usually, I like and root for the characters that are antagonistic or unlikable, but it wasn’t possible for me this time. He was so scattered that it was hard and annoying to follow, and he was so deplorable without any real motive that I couldn’t find a dredge of empathy within me for him.
As for the plot, there didn’t seem to be one. It was all over the map ~ literally. I love travel so maybe I was expecting too much from this novel. I understand the urge to travel and just hit the road but… something about this version of that didn’t strike me.
I’m sure my opinion of this story is unpopular, and maybe if I read the final edited version I would feel differently. One day I will do that, but not any time soon.