Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On the Road

On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, 1957 (307 pages)

I decided to read this book for two reasons. Number one, it's a book that's referenced on LOST, so I used it as one of my books for the LOST Books Challenge. But number two, I know that it's widely considered to be an incredibly influential book in American literature. I've always been somewhat embarrassed by the fact that I'm an English teacher who had never read anything by Jack Kerouac.

I did not like this book. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've given a book only one star on Goodreads. Where was the plot?! Where was the conflict?! Where was there a likeable character?

I knew before reading it that it was basically Kerouac's story of his travels across the country (hence the title). But I thought it would be a story of adventure and soul searching while going across the country (and maybe back). No. He goes from NYC to San Fran. Then back. Then back to San Fran. Then NYC. Then SF. Then NYC. You see a pattern developing? Sure, he took different routes, so he also made several stops in Denver (can you blame him?), and once he went through New Orleans. But everywhere he went, the story was the same. Women, alcohol, drugs, hitchhiking. His friends were even more crazy and ridiculous than the narrator.

That's not much of a plot. I don't care if he did describe the beautiful landscapes of America along the way, or the feeling of being in a jazz club. I think there may have been some conflict going on with the characters as far as the "itch" to get out and drive...but if that was supposed to be the conflict, it never did get resolved (in my opinion).

I know that there are plenty of people who consider this to be an amazingly brilliant piece of writing, and there are plenty of people who consider this to be a masterpiece of literature. I don't get it.

To figure out how this book relates to LOST, I'll admit that I had to go look this one up on Lostpedia. I had forgotten that when Ben leaves the island and ends up in Tunisia, he uses the name Dean Moriarity when he checks in to his hotel. That actually makes sense. In the book, Dean is a guy who constantly lies to people in order to make things better or easier for himself. He hurts the people he supposedly loves and should probably be attempting to take care of (like his wives and children). He never gives a moment's thought to how his actions will affect those around him. Yep...Dean and Ben have a lot in common.

Total number of books read in 2009: 18
Total number of pages read in 2009: 7025

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