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Maybe I missed the point of this entirely and there were some beautiful thoughts and moments, some of which will stick with me but really this was just an endless dull tale.
It was really a long ramble which could end with an apologetic 'guess you had to be there' as we follow Sal (Kerouac) on his journeys frequently in search of or joined by Dean (Cassady) this, for me, was unfortunate because I could not stand Dean, he came across as terrible human being in whom Sal is completely disillusioned. I much preferred the cameos from other beats but was instead dragged along with Sal and Dean.
As I said I may be missing the point entirely but the discovery of self was really just a glorified bumming across the country avoiding any sense of responsibility and that got tiring quickly, this is the most effort I've experienced in trying to finish a book in a long long time.
I have long meant to read this book but I had resisted in case it didn't live up to its legendary status. In the end, I think it was the fact that Matt Dillon was to narrate it that persuaded me to take the plunge. I now feel vindicated on two scores; first, the legend is alive and well and, secondly, Dillon was a terrific narrator.
There's no point spending too much time on the plot. The listener needs to experience it with Sal Paradise, with the words blowing through your mind like wind through your hair and the drug of sex and excitement invading your imagination like the drugs that invade Sal's system. It is the seminal "Road" tale populated with huge characters like Dean Moriarty and Marylou, his "little sharp chick", the Frenchman poet, Remi, Carlo Marx (poet and adulterer), Montana Slim and "Big Ed" Dunkel. Sal, it seems, is a metaphor for Kerouac and you can trace the rest of the characters through the many reminiscences written about this work by the characters themselves. But, in my opinion, the story is not the main thing. It's the living of it that makes it eternal. I found it a bit like looking back on a fond, but now past, phase of my life (not that my was ever as eventful as Sal's). It has that intimate feel of your own personal memories. I wrote a lot of notes about it to write this review, but most of them are just not important enough to mention, although they seemed important at the time. Again, these are like the events in the book.
Returning to Dillon, really there is not much to say. He captures the book's racy sexuality, the atmosphere of a jazz age and and a youth that was looking for something that is too elusive to capture. There were times when he brought to mind Springsteen ("Lost in the Flood", "Backstreets") and at other times Van Morrison ("Coney Island"). Musical and noisy.
I enjoyed this journey.
A difficult book to express, perfectly rendered - well done Mr Dillon. One of the very best readings I've heard.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to On the Road again? Why?
Yes. It gets better with age.
What other book might you compare On the Road to, and why?
The Dharma Bums - J.K.
What about Matt Dillon’s performance did you like?
I have had often been dissapointed by american narrators, not so in this case. Dillon is perfectly pitched for this.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Yes i laughed out loud. But this time around, having read the book at 15 , 25 years ago, i could relate to the book from personal experience. I enjoyed the book very much at 15, and "got it"...but realise much went over my head, especialy the sadness of dysfunctional relationships. At 15, i was excited by the drugs, in awe of DM ( since then i have known a few types like DM, recognise their attraction but see the negativity and vamparism in them too), the sexual liasons and all night sessions in jazz dens. i enjoyed them this time around too, but especially enjoyed the bucholic descriptions of the urban and wild landscapes...something i was less sensitive to first time around. I put off buying the audio for months , suspecting i would find the novel childish, im a european through and through... i traveled throughout the USA by car in 2000...in sum it is a frighteningly banal place, for me, even its glorious natural wilderness's (whats left of them), could not redeem the USA. this book was wrtitten half a century ago...a pivotal point. it is as fresh and profound as anything else of the genre, the ultimate beat book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I liked it, but I found it to be a challenging read. It's the prose style in which Jack Keruoac writes in that gives it its unique style but makes it feel like one long camp fire story.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A refreshed classic. This can be a difficult read due to the verbatim nature of the writing and particularly the insight into Dean's mind and style.
But the performance was excellent, it never felt read.