Title: On the Road
Author: Jack Kerouac
Page Count/Review Word Count: 286
Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy? Kerouac’s most famous book, and one that many people call a masterpiece, is a weird mix of both – many of the characters are thinly-disguised caricatures of some of the people that he really knew, like Old Bull Lee instead of William Burroughs and, of course, Dean Moriarty instead of Neal Cassady.
In fact, the coolest thing about this book is the way in which it portrays some of the notorious beat generation writers that I love so much – you get a real glimpse at what life was like for them as they freewheeled their way across America in the 1950s.
And the writing is tight, too – in fact, it was with this book that Kerouac established his trademark style, in which he writes a stream of consciousness ramble with few corrections along the way. Legend has it that he wrote this entire book in the space of three weeks, while drugged up on benzedrine; it’s also a long, continuous manuscript – Kerouac taped the paper together so that he wouldn’t have to stop for something as trivial as adding a new sheet of paper to the typewriter.
On the Road is one of those rare books which everyone on the planet should read – it’s an important book, a milestone in the world of literature, a book that came along and changed everything and turned Kerouac and his talented friends in to stardom, almost overnight. If that’s not a good enough reason to read it then I don’t know what is – just go grab a copy, now.