Utter madness. That’s how I would describe “On the Road”.
In high school, we read a few passages from “On the Road” but I didn’t connect with it. Kerouac’s way of describing environments seemed unnecessarily complicated. I was young, too, and didn’t understand the writing. It didn’t help that the reading was obligatory, which immediately diminished any possible enjoyment.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Susan Sontag and, last week, I decided to order half of her books. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sally delayed the post. In the meantime, I decided it was time to attempt Kerouac again.
It took two sittings to consume the book and, wow, this book is chaos. I haven’t read any books from the Beat generation and, honestly, the madness caught me off guard. I couldn’t tell you how many times that the main character, Sal, crossed the U.S. with little, to no, money.
The sheer electric attitude of Dean was mind boggling. It’s like he was born licking a live wire. I know what it feels like and I’ve had friends that have the same flavor of madness in their guts.
At the end, I felt sad. I don’t entirely understand why. Nothing bad happened. But I don’t know if Sal’s life was better or worse because he knew Dean. He did things he wouldn’t have otherwise. They crossed the country just to see each other several times. I don’t know if they bloomed from the madness.
One of my favorite quotes from about half-way through the book:
“This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.”