On The Road – Jack Kerouac

Another road trip home, another audiobook required. Honestly, is there any other book more perfect to accompany you on a four hour trip? On The Road seemed a natural choice. This title I’ve heard all over the place over the years and despite not really knowing what it was about I decided to cross this popular piece of fiction off my list. On The Road follows Sal Paradise and his journeys on the road is post-war America in the late forties. Often along with his mate, Dean Moriarty, they travel all over America causing mayhem wherever they go.


My first impression of this audiobook was that Matt Dillon was a superb choice to read it. I think I speak for all people who listen to audiobooks when I say you need to appreciate the sound of the person reading the book. Dillon’s voice was the perfectly smooth, deep sounds coupled with a pleasing American twang. The auditory aspects of the book were my favourite part of the experience. I was told before commencing my listening that the book was written in such a way that it is mean to be read in a rhythm. I have no idea if this is true or not but I have to admit that this novel was incredibly pleasing on the ear. I derived so much satisfaction from the way this book was written. The crisp sentences. The language used by Kerouac. It did have a beautiful rhythm and I definitely don’t regret my medium for reading this book.


The first half of the book I loved. I enjoyed meeting Sal, the introduction to the characters and his first attempt to go East. I flew through the first of my four hour trip excited to see where the road would lead Sal and who he night meet along the way. When I resumed the second part of my trip I have to admit the magic was then lost of me. I felt that the story was quite drawn out and perhaps might have enjoyed it more if the story was a little shorter? By this point I also found myself disliking a few characters, namely Dean. Lets be honest, Dean is an ass who only looks out for himself and his best interests. I dislike the way Sal defends his actions. Just because he is entertaining doesn’t mean that it is okay to treat people that way. For this reason and Dean’s prominence in the second half of the novel, I was left with a less positive opinion of the story.


Nonetheless I was intrigued to find out after finishing the book that this novel is not so much a work of fiction but actually autobiographical about Kerouac and his group of literary friends that started the “beat” movement in post-war America. The history behind the characters and learning about their real life parallels added an extra something to the story for me, lending me a continued interest post finishing the pages. Regardless, unfortunately this classic will never be a favourite of mine.


While I immensely enjoyed the some aspects of this novel, particularly due to listening to it as an audiobook, overall I just couldn’t love the story as an entirety. I am glad I picked this ground-breaking novel, discovering life on the road for myself, however, I feel I am unlikely to pick this particular one up again. A little regretfully I give On The Road two cars, helping the mischievous characters work their way across America.


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