Published in 1957, On The Road is the ultimate tale of wanderlust and the joys and perils of the open road.
The largely autobiographical novel revolves around many of the major players of the Beat movement including the apocalyptic poet, Allen Ginsberg, and Kerouac’s sometimes muse, Neil Cassady.
While writing the book, Kerouac employed the idea of spontaneous prose to capture the frenetic pace of the main characters and their fastpaced search for “kicks” and meaning. The effect is an often sparse, bare bones kind of beauty which has inspired musicians, artists, and many other writers since its publication.
ON THE ROAD definitely makes my list of must read novels for the college student, so if one of your teachers doesn’t make you do it sooner, go find a copy in your spare time.
Here’s an excerpt from the novel:
“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future.”