I show concerned parents who want to give their children the best start to life how to better understand their children.

19 Jan 2013

Book review - On the Road by Jack Kerouac

This isn't a proper book review for On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
Most people know the basic story and there is plenty of information out there about Jack and his books.
Instead I want to tell you about the specific version I bought: The Original Scroll. The legendary first draft - rougher, wilder, and racier than the 1957 edition.
As with most things in life there are some good point and some bad ones.

Let's start with...
The good

The printers cut the outside facing part of the paper, so that it looks like a scroll. I think it's pretty unique and cool.
The really interesting thing about this edition is all the names of the people are the real people (the real life people).
I was browsing the net now and stumbled upon a Jack Kerouac page, and recognized all the names of his real life companions from the book. I did a little wikipediaing and it's true all the names in the book are real people. In other versions of the book Neal Cassady is called Dean Moriarty. I think this adds a slightly different dimension to the reading. It feels more real. I was excited when I read Neal's page and realized that the character in the book is pretty real.

The bad
There is one very big and very bad thing about this version of the book. The entire story is one long string of sentences. There are no paragraphs, no chapters, no spaces, no line breaks, none of that kind of formatting. I know the basic story of how Jack wrote the book: on eight continuous sheets of tracing paper while out on a spontaneous cross-country adventure (with Neal and the others). So, it's cool that the book is in the original format, but it's really difficult to read. I have never read a book this slowly before. Each page feels like a short story on it's own.

I said I wouldn't say much about the story, but what the hell. It's an interesting story. I don't know if I always agree with their morals (especially Neal), but nevertheless a fun read. It does take the reader back to a different time, a time without bureaucracy, where you could roll into a town, find a silly job, ear a few dollars, and move on. Today, life seems to be about visas, paperwork and signed lines: capitalism... Funny how a lot of their movement was about capitalism, and how they didn't agree with it. If that's what they were thinking then, I wonder how they would all feel if they were living out their adventure today...

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