'On The Road' by Jack Kerouac is probably one of the most quotable books I have read in a long time. I imagine that there are hundreds of people with Kerouac quotes tattooed on them somewhere and this doesn't surprise me because he is a master of one liners. On the face of it, 'On The Road' is basically a load of anecdotal stories about a group of friends going on road trips. In this sense, it reminded me a lot of 'Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas'. The stories are often crazy and flit between being funny and being sad. The characters in the novel (who are all based on real people) are all desperate to enjoy themselves and find the true essence of life but they are also tragic and this comes across often in their stories.
It was a very good novel but not quite as incredible and life affirming as I expected it to be through its reputation. Problem is, I have heard Kerouac be compared to Charles Bukowski in similarity of style many times and Kerouac was nowhere near as poignant a commentator on the human condition as Bukowski was. However, what Kerouac was doing at the time was still pretty groundbreaking and his writing has actually stood the test of time well. There were times when I found it difficult to remind myself that 'On The Road' was published in the fifties because parts of it seemed so modern and relevant.
That's the great thing about road stories. Nobody will ever get bored of the age old idea of someone going on a journey that is both literal and spiritual. I don't know if spiritual is actually the word I want but it's all I can think of right now so it will have to do. The novel is separated into five different parts and I feel the last two parts were by far the strongest. The story of their visit to Mexico is the craziest and this was when I feel the novel reached its full potential. I will read Kerouac again if only to experience more of those sublime one liners and wish that I was on a road trip with a bunch of people as crazy as those guys. I give it seven bananas out of ten.
On a side note, here is a shameless plug for my own novel that I have self published. You can buy my novel here.