Going off On the Road

I just finished On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, and it’s been a struggle, I’ll tell you. I was so excited to read this, apart from being something I think I should read, as the classic American novel etc etc, it was also on subject matter I can readily identify with. I want to travel to America – have done for a very long time. The idea of travelling coast to coast was therefore very appealing, at least initially.

But in this book, it’s not just one epic roadtrip that has any form of deeper meaning. The crew ping-pong between east and west coasts in a frenzy; as soon as they reach the edge, they turn around and head home again. Additionally, there is no significance of any kind to be found. The ‘beat’ generation do nothing but drink and drive and abuse women. The two main characters are caught in some weird kind of brotherly love, despite behaving atrociously towards each other.

There is nothing but chaos, and this is meant to represent some aspect of the times, their heady lifestyle. Instead, it is completely uninspiring and leaves me with little empathy towards the characters, only a mixture of pity and disgust.