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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Road trip
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...
Published on June 13 2004 by Sarah Sammis

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3.0 out of 5 stars Important, but not a classic
"On the Road" has and always will have a great appeal to young white American males, all of whom would love to be Dean Moriarity. Persons who don't fall into that rather narrow definition will be less enamored by it. As a young white male, I loved it, but the book's veneer fades with age, and as a 33-year-old I find much more meaning and literary value in the works of...
Published on Sept. 7 2003


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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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Ti Jean- My French Whore, May 1 2004
This review is from: On the Road (Paperback)
Kerouac had stumbled onto a new way of writing via Neal Cassady in the form of a letter Neal wrote Jack that read like a mad-man on a rant. It was later termed "spontaneous bop-prose," a method of capturing your first thought, the raw emotion. He likened it to a Jazz musician improvising a piece of music. One never knew where the song was going to go, it was dictated by the feelings of the musician. The language of writing, poetry or poetic prose, is not any different than music, which Nietzsche claimed was the "voice of the soul." Kerouac's method was to type without thinking, as in a meditative state. Doing so called for lightning fast typing with no revision. He found that stopping to change paper interrupted his flow. Before the days of word-processors, Kerouac typed his manuscript on a scroll which provided a continuous feed of paper to match his continuous flow of emotion.
Writing is the original alchemy, turning lead into gold. The writer turns language into poetry. Words, mere words used to point at something, are transformed through craft and inference. The writer is only half of the equation, the reader too must be open to the poetry of the world in order to realize the value of gold, and the ability to discern it from lead. The womb is the golden eternity. It is where we feel, we are most alive without excessive external influence. It is what we all strive towards, the primordial warmth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars True yesterday, true today, true tomorrow, March 10 2004
By 
Esse K. Tiggs (San Francisco, CA) - 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 by Richard Perez
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On the Road
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (Paperback - Jan. 1 1976)
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