On the Bro’d: A Parody of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road​​

15 Apr


The only bros for me are the mad awesome ones, the ones who are mad to chug, mad to party, mad to bone, mad to get hammered, desirous of all the chicks at Buffalo Wild Wings, the ones who never turn down a Natty Light, but chug, chug, chug like f*cking awesome players exploding like spiders across an Ed Hardy shirt and in the middle you see the silver skull pop and everybody goes, “Awww, sh*t!”

So goes On the Bro’d: A Parody of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, by Mike Lacher, published today.  The book reimagines Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as if it were told by someone like How I Met Your Mother‘s Barney–a bro.

Contrary to the popular myth of the scroll, Kerouac spent years trying to get the voice right for On the Road.  Yes, he did pound the keys of the typewriter and turn out the novel in a matter of days, but that was only after he had spent years on the road and wrote and rewrote the novel multiple times, with different characters and different narration.  Neal Cassady’s famous letters spurred Kerouac on to write in a more confessional and conversational approach.  He worked hard to capture the feeling of a real talk, using words like “beat” and “hipster.”  However, Kerouac was well educated.  He did go to Columbia, after all, and while it may have been on a football scholarship that might make him seem a bit more like a bro, even as a child he used to ditch school so he could go read in the library.  While his work may appeal to a guy’s guy because he’s often with his “bro” Neal, recklessly driving, picking up chicks, and smoking pot, the diction and syntax in On the Road reveal that underneath it all he was a sensitive poet who saw the beauty in the color of grapes. After all, this is how the famous quote from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road paraphrased above actually read:

“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 and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

On the Bro’d is just a parody. It says so right in the subtitle.  It’s not meant to be taken seriously, and the idea is actually clever.  Still, it points toward a common misconception people have of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation, whom critics pejoratively referred to as “beatniks,” meaning the Beats were as “far out” as Sputnik.  Keep in mind, Sputnik was launched by the Soviets during the Cold War.  Beatnik was not a compliment. Even today, many scholars don’t take Kerouac’s writing seriously because it is so accessible.  But his prose is poignant, his message spiritual.  He was not saying, the only people for him were the ones who wanted to get drunk.  He was saying the only people for him were the ones who want to truly live life to the fullest.  He didn’t like the type of brain-zapped people who said commonplace things and wore Ed Hardy t-shirts.  He said, “Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.”

I’m curious if you think On the Bro’d is a successful parody?  It seems like something that would sell well at Urban Outfitters, yes?


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