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I read it again! "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac - the book I believe (to quote the New York Times) to be the twentieth century's literary equivalent of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

Yes, there are some scenes of sex and drugs in "On the Road." There are also some scenes of love and compassion and friendship and daydreaming and sunsets and passion and wearing beat clothes and being stranded somewhere without a ride in the rain.

"On the Road" was published fifty years ago this year. The book sold well at the time, but the mainstream press hated it and crucified every book Kerouac wrote. It didn't help that he was a chronic alcoholic. Jack became a notorious celebrate who was crowned "The King of the Beats."

Kerouac's book, "On the Road," takes you on a trip across the continent several times - with many stops along the way. Then it takes you down to Mexico and leaves you there because Dean Moriarty just got his divorce papers and he wants to split back to New York as soon as possible.

Did I mention Jack drank? He once told a neighbor that because he was a Catholic, he couldn't commit suicide - so Kerouac decided to drink himself to death instead. He succeeded in 1969, at age 47.

In the summer of 1973, Ann Charters (Kerouac's bibliographer), published her sympathetic biography, "Kerouac." What makes Ann Charter's book so interesting is the fact that she tells the same story Jack Kerouac tells in his novels - only her story is true. Movie star handsome, Kerouac was married three times but lived most of his life with his mother. He created a myth about writing "On the Road" in a three week burst of creativity in 1951...he actually worked on the book for years.

Ann Charter's biography of Jack Kerouac was a bestseller and resurrected Kerouac's reputation. Time has turned Jack Kerouac into a cultural icon and "On the Road" into an acclaimed American masterpiece.

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The following comments are for "On The Road - 50th Anniversary."
by johnjohndoe

Acquired taste?
Thanks JJD,

I am one of those who really don't "get" Kerouac. I have read some of his most popular poems but have never read one that was a "slam dunk" kind of impression. I do think he was out in front of the pack in terms of capturing small scenes of American culture that we normally don't pay attention to.

Thanks for the recommendation and I'll read more of Jack's stuff, I'm sure I'll find one that hits home.


( Posted by: BWOz [Member] On: February 3, 2007 )

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