Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

I thought it would be appropriate to add a comment about On the Road, Jack Kerouac’s counter-culture classic of the beat generation of the late 50s and 60s, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its publication.
I first read it as a rebellious college freshman in 1966. It was considered hip and dangerous. Of course, I didn't really "get" it then – we all snickered at the casual pot references. Most of us (some truthfully) claimed to have tried weed, but, as the saying went, "it did nothing for me."
Reading it again, about two years ago, I had a totally different perspective. I saw the angst and the searching in the 60s for something besides the "Ozzie and Harriet, two kids, a dog, and white picket fence" that was everyone's ideal in the 50s. I also saw, for the first time, a person's life laid out as a literal and figurative journey. This second read was much more serious than the first, and I think it is a metaphor for the searching that all of us do -- some with pot, some with religion, some with alcohol. Is it a great book? Nah, but it is a great book about the 60s. I am glad I read it, but it won't go on my "desert island shelf."
--Chiron, 09/12/07

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