Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jack Kerouac's On the Road: a drunken man's journey across America

While I've always loved traveling, I haven't come to a point in my life when I just needed to go somewhere else. I didn't realize people with those tendencies do exist until I read On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

On the Road is largely based on the experiences of the author himself, together with his friends, who journeyed across mid-century America (late 1940s). It's written in a style Kerouac calls spontaneous prose, an interesting way of telling a story, especially when used to recall the ordeals and experiences of a traveler.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Sal Paradise, a writer recently divorced, who wants to travel back and forth mainland America. But the story doesn't revolve around his story but from Dean Moriarty's. One could call Dean crazy and downright irresponsible, but he is someone who doesn't care about anything else but to relish life and find meaning in it.

The book is probably the best way to illustration the new beat generation. The characters in the novel are into drugs, alcohol, sex, and jazz. In their travels they look for means to satisfy themselves.

I must say I had a hard time relating to them. For one, the longest land trip I've ever taken was from Manila to Cagayan Valley, and that only took 12 hours. Here, they journey for days, driving a broken car, and taking hitchhikers who have money to contribute to their gas fund. Not only that, but in the book, they sound overly hedonistic, rushing after the fleeting treasures of this life.

I like Kerouac's writing style. It's simple, straight-to-the-point, and hits one's emotions like a sharp-shooter. The reader may get confused with the geography which is an essential part of the novel, so one may need a copy of the US map to fully appreciate the story.

I confess I got bored during the middle of it, but the ending was just marvelous. The last few chapters, their travels to Mexico City, sealed the book for me.

One good thing this book taught me is that these people, lost in their lusts, need to be reached. It's not in drugs, money, or alcohol where real satisfaction lies—it is in Christ. Unless they are pointed to Him, they will necessarily travel the road to find anything that they think will satisfy them.

And sadly, that road may be the wide one.

. . . .

These past weeks have been light compared to the hurly-burly of academic life escalating to graduation. But now that the rush is over, I'm in the calm of the storm, with the temptation for idleness at the eye of it.

So, instead of lying around, doing nothing, I'm catching up on my reading. There's a sense to it. My back-log has been unprecedented. People have gifted me with books, I've bought some books myself, and they're piled up all over the place. I never seemed to muster the effort to read all of them—until now. I realize that I'd probably never get to read them once school starts again. But we'll see.

I try to discipline myself to write a short review after finishing a book. As with studying, writing about a book is one way I can commit the things I've gleaned and learned into my functional memory. I've done some here, but often, I'd procrastinate, until such time when I'd forget what the book was about because I had just finished a new one.



Anonymous Yes DUmagan said...

hi lance! :) how are you? :) lets exchange links! :D

Fri May 08, 02:04:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger PauT said...

Kuya Lance :) keep on posting reviews:) I love reading them. This can also help us weigh which books to read. God bless you in your new career ahead!!!! :)

Fri May 08, 06:11:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Lance said...

Yes! Thanks for dropping by! Ganda ng site mo. How'd you get your own domain name?

Sat May 09, 07:28:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Lance said...

Salamat, Pao. Writing your thoughts about a book you've read is a healthy practice. Just make sure it doesn't consume so much of your time.

Sat May 09, 07:29:00 PM GMT+8  

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