I took an American literature course in college and we studied The Beat poets, Kerouac among them. I adored reading about the Beat Generation. They were trying to figure themselves out in the world and were hungry to do so. I could related to that feeling especially at 21.
My favorite quote from On the Road is the following: “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
What prose! On the Road is the biographical cross country account of Kerouac and his friends. It's a novel about searching for oneself in the world and searching for the truth within oneself.
Kerouac helped coin the term 'beat' for his generation of the late 1940s. They were the generation of the Cold War, McCarthyism, and there was, of course, experimental drugs--which Kerouac and other Beat writers used as inspiration and deemed as a kind of religious experience.
Kerouac searches for his place in the world and that's what all characters seek to do. As readers we must understand how their world works and where they fit within it. It's an age old question too, though one that's never quite answered. It's likely why On the Road has been beloved for all these decades. It wasn't just the novel of a generation but a beautiful summary of a shared experience that transcends individuals and ages.
Here's the trailer:
So tell me, did you love On the Road? Will you go see the movie?