Wednesday, September 5, 2012


A little behind since I finished the book, already getting feedback of the usual things relating to the formats and typos and stuff. But ironically I discovered that a movie based on the classic 1050's book On The Road by Jack Kerouac was finally made into a movie. The book was published in 1951.

I first read On The Road at the age of 16 way back in the 1960's and it changed my life, sort of. The book is fiction but thinly so, all the adventures and characters were real and in the years that followed the published book, readers got to find out who was who.

Kerouac was from a French-Canadian family, typical of the mixed American/Canadian families who lived in Massachusetts. As a young guy, he went to New York where he began to meet what we would now call the "original hipsters".  They were mostly university students who were enjoying that period from the end of WW2 to the 50's when America was rediscovering itself.

It was also where jazz, poetry, coffee houses and of course, drugs became more common and many young people looked for more than what their parents, after  a hard-won war, wanted.

It was also where the term "beat" became popular. Kerouac explains on a recorded audio piece that the meaning was "the beat", the music, jazz. There are several other explanations for the term, but Kerouac's seems to be the most accepted one.

The book was picked as #55 on the "100 best novels in English language of the 20th Century and is right up there with two other outsider novels that revealed a darker and more explicit shade of America; Salinger's Catcher in The Rye and Peyton Place.

Most of the book, as the title infers, is about the road. Future great poets who were with Kerouac includes Alan Ginsberg, William Burroughs and others. They reluctantly laid out the ground work for beatniks and the 60's revolution among young people, and I suppose, including me.

It also influenced Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison among many others. Road pictures became popular in the 60's, Easy Rider was influenced by the book as was Thelma and Louise. 

The theme of the book was mostly the road trips across America in beat-up cars and seeing the real America from the midwest to the great plains and the California coastline. The book is made up of at least several trips.

Among these university kids were hobos and criminals and particularly one person, named Moriarity in the book, who was the opposite of them, a troubled guy with a dubious past who showed them his side of life, dank bars and crazy men and women and adventure for the sake of adventure.

There have been a few attempts at Kerouac, based on some of his other books. Francis Coppola bought the book and hoped to make it someday. He finally got it made but chose another director.

So what do I think? I saw the trailer and am not sure. It is a hard book to translate, but they seem to dwell more on the sex than the adventure. The sex in the book is mentioned but not ever shown and I'm afraid the film will focus more on that. If it is, it will spoil the story.

Reviews on a recent festival viewing were mixed.

One interesting piece was that Kerouac wrote the book on a scroll he created by taping sheets of paper to a length of 30 feet and he fed it into his typewriter as he would write so fast he didn't want to deal with putting a sheet of paper into the machine.  

So, I'm looking somewhat apprehensively to seeing the movie.

I have travelled a hell of a lot in the years and ventured on almost all the highways in the western states and provinces.

By the way, the photo on my blog is in Nevada on one of my roadtrips. Below a bad pic of the highways I've traveled.