Often described as a novel that defines the Beat Generation, On the Road is a book that makes me nostalgic for things I've never done and places I've never been. It also makes me wonder why people might want to romanticize the Beat Generation.
In this novel, Sal Paradise is the poetic narrator of his own travels across America in the 1920s with his friend Dean Moriarty. To be honest, I've read it twice now, and for the life of me, I could not tell you the details of what goes on (Does this make me a bad reader?). Everything that happens in this book seems to happen in a big blur. Things also seem to repeat themselves. We as readers are taken from New York to Colorado to San Francisco to Colorado to New York over and over. We also get multiples glimpses into the exciting world of being broke, hitchhiking, dirty clubs, hooking up, and angry ladies who are disappointed with the choices that our heroes make. When compared to modern ways of life, this all seems to define the Beat Generation as unsettled and troubled.
Dean himself is the pinnacle of unsettled and troubled. I don't like Dean. He doesn't care about his girlfriends or children or even Sal, Dean's only friend who continues to defend him even after their final trip together. I admit that I feel sorry for Dean at times. He seems to want to be a good person, but we never see him act on it.
Despite my feelings about the Beat Generation and Dean Moriarty, I have a great love for this book. The novel really has some nice moments in its narrative. For me, I loved reading Sal's first trip to California, especially during his time with Terry. It is also really fun to read Kerouac's descriptions of Jazz, which can be found multiple times during the novel.
So even if I don't remember everything, I would still recommend this book! I think that you're not really supposed to remember everything that happens during Sal and Dean's trips. What is more important, I remember how Sal feels at certain moments during his trips. I think it perfectly reflects how I remember things in my own life. I don't remember details, but I remember how I felt in certain moments. Maybe that's what being Beat is all about.
So now to watch the movie...