Tag Archives: slang

“On the Road” Makes “30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Turning 30”

14 Jun


Flavorwire listed “30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Turning 30,” and guess what’s on the list?!  That’s right, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

Unfortunately, this follows its inclusion:

Plus, then you’ll have ample time to develop your scorn towards it.

Why the scorn, Flavorwire?

As, I wrote in the comments field:

In the 10+ years since I first read “On the Road” when I was a teenager, I have not developed any scorn for it. In fact, as I’ve delved further into Kerouac’s life and work, I’ve come to see just how brilliant his writing is, especially considering English was not his first language. He had to learn the colloquialisms that he’s so often criticized for using. When “On the Road” was published in 1957, it was groundbreaking to use the type of slang Kerouac used and to improvise the way he did.

The comments section isn’t all that kind to the novel, either.  One commenter called it “one-dimensional.”

Really?  I can certainly understand a reader not liking the voice or even the story.  Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions.  There are plenty of people in the comments section admitting they don’t like Jane Austen or Nathaniel Hawthorne.  It’s okay not to enjoy something.  Not everyone has the same taste.  That’s what makes us unique.  But—you knew there was going to be a but—there’s a difference between personal taste and fact.  The fact of the matter is that On the Road is multi-dimensional.

On the Road is about so much more than the literal exploration of a road trip.  Perhaps Dean Moriarty is a bit one-dimensional in the sense that he acts impulsively, living for his own happiness, and never really grows out of that.  The narrator, Sal Paradise, is on a spiritual quest of sorts, though.  He hits the road, trying to leave behind the East of his youth to find himself in the West.  He befriends Dean, even though he knows he’s conning him.  He’s constantly caught between what he thinks he wants and what he really wants.  He’s searching for meaning and beauty and love and friendship.  He’s a complicated character, not entirely sure of what he wants.

Also on the list were a couple of Greek authors!  Namely, Homer and Jeffrey Eugenides.