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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced, Stream of Consciousness Writing, Fantastic!
"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 and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"...
Published on March 12 2009 by James Gallen

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3.0 out of 5 stars Rose Tinted Rearview Mirror
"Highly acclaimed works" are so often touted thus, not because of their actual value but because they were consumed at an impressionable age. For example, the popular music we listened to in our late teens tends to be the "best" music and all before or after is measured against it. Kerouac's book falls firmly into this trap. This highly erratic narrative purports to...
Published on Jan. 27 2003


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced, Stream of Consciousness Writing, Fantastic!, March 12 2009
By 
James Gallen (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
"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 and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"

This was my first introduction to Jack Kerouac. I found this book to be fantastic! For those like me who have heard of Kerouac and "On The Road" but really do not know what it is about I will provide a brief synopsis without giving too much away. It is the story of Sal Paradise (substitute for Kerouac) and his friend, Dean Moriarty (modeled on Kerouac's friend) and their late 1940s cross country searches for "it", music, sex, liquor...life, as they know it.

Those who have read my other reviews may be surprised at my gushing praise for this classic of the Beat Generation. The life style described in this book is, in my opinion, utterly disgusting. What makes this book great, to my taste, is the writing style. It is a fast paced, stream of consciousness description of totally irresponsible, hedonistic behavior. I would not recommend this life style to anyone but I do recommend the book to any fan of great writing with the maturity to avoid the siren call to take to the road.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Road trip, June 13 2004
By 
Sarah Sammis "Avid BookCrosser" (Hayward, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
On the Road captures Americana in a stronger and more vivid fashion than John Steinbeck did The Grapes of Wrath. On the Road covers the same route (and more) but doesn't water down the regional flavors with allegory. Instead American from New York to California and all parts in between is shown for its good, bad, rich, poor, and various ethnicities with humor and honesty.
Through Sal's numerous transcontental road trips, Kerouac describes the regional beauty, kirks, culture and geography of every city and state the protagonist passes through. Of the cities I've either lived in or visited that are visited in this book I enjoyed the most--especially his numerous pilgrimages to San Francisco. His first entry into San Francisco is classic: "Over the Oakland Bay Bridge I slept soundly for the first time since Denver; so that I was rudely jolted in the bus station at Market and Fourth... and there she was, Frisco - long, bleak streets with trolle wires all shrouded in fog and whiteness... . Weird bums (Mission and Third) asked me for dimes in the dawn..." This opening paragraph to San Francisco is still apt, if not, perfect.
While the book is an icon of the Beat generation and Sal, the narrator, desires to be among that set, he's abmismal at it. Throughout the book he worships his friend Dean who is the wildly cool womanizing, debauched, drug addicted man Sal wants to be but Sal just can't manage to follow in Dean's footsteps. Whereas Dean will drive over 100 mph, steal cars and delight in getting drunk, Sal will either drive the speed limit or hide in the back when Dean is driving, try to return Dean's joy ridden cars, or want to sleep off the booze he's drunk when around Dean. It's Sal's valient attempts to be like Dean while being unable to follow through that add a delicious irony to the novel.
In the end Sal and Dean and the rest of the gang part ways, having grown apart as they've matured over the course of the two years this book covers. The book ends on a somewhat sad note, looking back across the days of those crazy contiental trips with nostalgia and longing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow the dotted line . . ., Oct. 6 2006
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
This book first appeared in 1957---I read it in 1976, and have now re-read it in 2006. Strange, but it holds up well, yet is dated. A time capsule really, this is a throw back to the "beat" days and a first stab at autobiography. Sald Paradis sis the narrator of this journey, and it covers everything from reform school to hitchhiking. Full of beautiful and disturbing "music" this has now become a classic. So many writers can be connected with Jack K., and certainly Salinger's "Holden" comes to mind with his wacy takes on life and his own "journey." Must also recommend the excellent novel, "Katzenjammer" by Jackson McCrae, for another excellent book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic novel, modern day Grail-chasers beat the system, Oct. 6 2014
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
Wanderlust. It affects the best of us sooner or later. We get tired of the same old routine, the same old house, the same old job, the same daily repetitions. We get tired of the cycle and want direction: a long, straight road that you can drive down with utter abandon until the ends of the earth. This desire for escape is universal. Just as we all want to see new lands, meet new people, sometimes all we want is a good read in a book to imagine a side of life we’ve never seen. Traveling the road of a text through a book that asks, “Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” (22)

Any reader who picks up On the Road will get thrust into the world of the hobos, hipsters, fairies, hitchhikers, and okies that make up the generation of beat men and women who rebel against the sedentary life of late 1940s America. No, this is not a fantasy novel, despite the colourful names of some of the types Sal and Dean meet on the road. It is a novel about fantasy and fulfillment, about imagining what might await you on the open highway. It’s a celebration of the present moment and an exploration of a country whose infrastructure enables one to fly anywhere from coast to coast in a train, bus, van, sedan, convertible, or jalopy. All avenues open, anything is possible.

Sal Paradise gets this itch to start moving after his divorce. A combination of the empty space he feels within himself and his new freedom as a bachelor leads him to follow Dean Moriarty, a man who digs every highway and every suffering, glorious person along the way. They chase girls, drink at bars, and break speed limits, taking in as much experience as they can. They travel in a matter of days to the Western lands that America’s settlers took months to reach by caravan, but their idea of the West is the same: it is paradise, it is freedom.

If the Beat Generation is a religion, then Dean Moriarty may be its God, and Jack Kerouac his prophet. Dean is omnipotent: he is a lawless, frantic container of sexual energy, who can convince a woman to sleep with him by uttering the location and time of their appointment. Dean is omnipresent: he can travel anywhere in America and has a knack of showing up at the perfect time. Dean is omniscient: he takes in everything he sees and knows the streets and roads better than anyone. He’s madly in love with the present moment, he knows time, and the world is not enough to contain him.

From San Fran to San Antonio, from New York to Nebraska, the duo crosses the States, searching like the questers of the Grail after what Dean calls It. They want to dig people who have It, the insight into life’s meaning, the drive that gives life its enjoyment and perfection. They search in hobo railway yards, Prairie cotton fields, mambo-playing Mexican whorehouses, abandoned California mining towns, and all over for this treasure. But like in all knightly romances, the meaning of their journey arises in the telling, and not so much in the result. Society continually weighs them down, threatening that one day, its demands will bring an end to their life on the road. But while in the presence of Dean’s seemingly infinite, mad energy, Sal has no room to doubt that he is in for the ride of his life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars True yesterday, true today, true tomorrow, June 23 2005
By 
Tomra Dale (Nashville, TN) - See all my reviews
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
Sal Paradise is a writer just like Kerouac who decides to 'see America'. He hitches rides, washes dishes, works on farms, sleeps on floors and under the stars, experiencing new flavors of life and meeting different kinds of people he never thought existed. It is a kaleidoscopic journey across this country, not some plastic trip on flying tin cans, staying in gaudy hotels, hobnobbing with phony people and walking through tourist traps in line with the flock. He meets other writers just like himself coming and going 'On The Road' who convey their own experiences and enrich Sal's ever more in the process.
The conflict comes in the figure of Dean Moriarty, a hustler and con man who the beatniks first embrace as one of their own, but eventually identify for what he is after patterns begin to emerge in his relationships with his peers. Sal at first sees Dean as a hero, a role model, but slowly grows disillusioned with broken promises, threadbare lies, irresponsible behavior, and eventual deceit and betrayal. The whole story is focused on Sal and Dean, and just as the two go off on a tangent down into Mexico and on into Central America, it seems analogous as to how Sal's vision become blurred and misdirected in following an agenda he mistakenly believes to be his own.
This is probably the best book written on the Beat Generation, capturing the essence of the times and the spirit that established what became the underground culture of America. Teens and young adults having trouble articulating their deepest feelings may find that Kerouac did it for them almost a half century ago. Don't miss it! Along with this great novel, I'd also like to recommend, "THE LOSERS' CLUB: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, a book I can't stop thinking about since I picked up a "used" copy off Amazon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Exciting, Breathless, Attempt to "Seize the Day!", May 23 2005
By 
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
Jack Kerouac wrote this novel about several escapades he took across the country in the late 1940's. He used characters from his real life, such as Allen Ginsburg the poet and author; and Neal Cassidy, Kerouac's idol, and changed their names to use in the story.
In "On The Road", Sal Paradise(Kerouac), a young writer from New York City, ventures to cities around the country, staying with old friends, making new friends, and doing everything he can to stay alive and move on. His mentor and friend, Dean Moriarty(Neal Cassidy), often travels with Sal, always talking, laughing, and being his insane self. Now let's stop and take a brief look at the fascinating life of Dean Moriarty: Throughout the story, Dean plays several different women, has 3 wives and 4 children, half of whom he can't account for ever meeting. He was born in Salt Lake City, and grew up going to reform schools and jail. Dean was an infamous hustler in Texas and Denver who was always stealing cars and money, but never for more then $10 or just when he needed a quick ride. He was insane, always laughing and having a great time, and always getting the most he could out of life. Sal and Dean experienced some great high's and low's of travelling together, seeing such cities as Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Mexico City. Throughout the book you get to know the fascinating personalities of Sal, Dean, and several other characters.
Just as important as the story and the characters is the STYLE in which the book is written; it's this style, which gives the book its vibrant, breathless, spontaneous intensity. And, yes, this is where the book really earns its legendary status, because few other books are able to convey the exhilaration and excitement and fun of a mad attempt to "seize the day." On The Road is truly a life-affirming, free-wheeling experience. Along with On The Road, I'd also like to recommend "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, a strange little beat-influenced romance and, weirdly, the second best book I read so far this year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars True yesterday, true today, true tomorrow, May 9 2005
By 
Tomra Dale (Nashville, TN) - See all my reviews
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
Sal Paradise is a writer just like Kerouac who decides to 'see America'. He hitches rides, washes dishes, works on farms, sleeps on floors and under the stars, experiencing new flavors of life and meeting different kinds of people he never thought existed. It is a kaleidoscopic journey across this country, not some plastic trip on flying tin cans, staying in gaudy hotels, hobnobbing with phony people and walking through tourist traps in line with the flock. He meets other writers just like himself coming and going 'On The Road' who convey their own experiences and enrich Sal's ever more in the process.
The conflict comes in the figure of Dean Moriarty, a hustler and con man who the beatniks first embrace as one of their own, but eventually identify for what he is after patterns begin to emerge in his relationships with his peers. Sal at first sees Dean as a hero, a role model, but slowly grows disillusioned with broken promises, threadbare lies, irresponsible behavior, and eventual deceit and betrayal. The whole story is focused on Sal and Dean, and just as the two go off on a tangent down into Mexico and on into Central America, it seems analogous as to how Sal's vision become blurred and misdirected in following an agenda he mistakenly believes to be his own.
This is probably the best book written on the Beat Generation, capturing the essence of the times and the spirit that established what became the underground culture of America. Teens and young adults having trouble articulating their deepest feelings may find that Kerouac did it for them almost a half century ago. Don't miss it! Along with this great novel, I'd also like to recommend, "THE LOSERS' CLUB: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Exciting, Breathless, Attempt to "Seize the Day!", June 27 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
Jack Kerouac wrote this novel about several escapades he took across the country in the late 1940's. He used characters from his real life, such as Allen Ginsburg the poet and author; and Neal Cassidy, Kerouac's idol, and changed their names to use in the story.
In "On The Road", Sal Paradise(Kerouac), a young writer from New York City, ventures to cities around the country, staying with old friends, making new friends, and doing everything he can to stay alive and move on. His mentor and friend, Dean Moriarty(Neal Cassidy), often travels with Sal, always talking, laughing, and being his insane self. Now let's stop and take a brief look at the fascinating life of Dean Moriarty: Throughout the story, Dean plays several different women, has 3 wives and 4 children, half of whom he can't account for ever meeting. He was born in Salt Lake City, and grew up going to reform schools and jail. Dean was an infamous hustler in Texas and Denver who was always stealing cars and money, but never for more then $10 or just when he needed a quick ride. He was insane, always laughing and having a great time, and always getting the most he could out of life. Sal and Dean experienced some great high's and low's of travelling together, seeing such cities as Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Mexico City. Throughout the book you get to know the fascinating personalities of Sal, Dean, and several other characters.
Just as important as the story and the characters is the STYLE in which the book is written; it's this style, which gives the book its vibrant, breathless, spontaneous intensity. And, yes, this is where the book really earns its legendary status, because few other books are able to convey the exhilaration and excitement and fun of a mad attempt to "seize the day." On The Road is truly a life-affirming, free-wheeling experience. Along with On The Road, I'd also like to recommend The Losers' Club by Richard Perez, a strange little beat-influenced romance and, weirdly, the second best book I read so far this year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Crazy But Compelling Read, June 8 2004
By 
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
I am attempting to broaden my reading, and a fellow Amazon.com reviewer included this book among his top 10 American fiction "Listmania" list - so I followed his advice and bought the book.
Jack Kerouac was born in Massachusetts in 1922 and died just 47 years later in Florida. This book was inspired by his travels with Neal Cassidy and the book was published in 1957. Kerouac was a Columbia University drop out, writer, and traveller, low budget traveller. If this book is anything like his life then it was a wild affair of fast cars, criss-cross travel back and forth across the USA from California to Colorado, Mexico to Texas, from New Orleans to Virginia and back to New York, with many women, drink, and wild times all along the way. No wonder he died so young.
The book is well written with an intense but easy to read style, with one descriptive sentence after another in paragraphs that fill entire pages. He and his fellow traveller Dean in the book and the author is Sal Paradise travel by bus, car, and truck on a wild year after year trip around the USA looking for excitement.
It is a recommended read. It is hard to rate the book - that being very subjective - but I would say 5 stars.
Jack in Toronto
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5.0 out of 5 stars Everyman's Story, May 5 2004
By 
Gary Lehmann (Penfield, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
"On the Road" has taken a terrible beating from modern critics. Harold Bloom,the dean of modern American critics, has written the most damning review I have ever read of a book in the Preface to his Twentieth Century Interpretations volume. Basically, he says that "On the Road" is a worthless piece of trash. I totally disagree.
"On the Road" is the classic book of self-discovery. Sal Paradise floats over the United States and Mexico as if they were some sort of mirage on his own bruised ego. A veteran of WWII, Sal is desperately trying to locate a place for himself in a dislocated post-war world. Slowly we discover that he and all his roadie buddies are just doing what each of us has done in one way or another, found the pathway to our own true selves. "Tom Jones" does no more -- or less. "Robinson Crusoe" has little else to offer. It is precisely what Hamlet tries and fails to do.
So maybe Kerouvac was on drugs when he wrote it. So what? Maybe it is a story that goes no where. Who says books have to present answers? Maybe all that is true. It doesn't change one bit the sense that "On the Road" captures the very American desire to find "IT," that strange singular place where all our discordant parts fit together.
In the end, Sal finds his true sweety and settles down, but the story, the story dear Mr. Bloom, is the classic tale of a young man finding his place in this crazy modern world. Perhaps Harold Bloom is too old, or too focused, to remember this quintessential event in his own life anymore. Sal Paradise remembers it, and he brings it back in vivid descriptions that help us all [OK, almost all of us] to experience it again.
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On the Road
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (Paperback - Jan. 1 1976)
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