It has almost become fashionable to read On The Road. Due to its influence on countless creators, notably Bob Dylan, it gets credited as a coming of age book for the young adult. The book certainly changed my life and was one of the main catalysts for getting me out of a bad mental state. I really do owe Jack Kerouac more than the £20 I have spent on his books.
The book is written in continuous prose- a format that presents the author’s/protagonist’s thought patterns as he tells his story, as if verbally. There is a subtle effect from this idea of saying ‘this happened, then this happened, then this happened’, where it shows a high regard for the present, the main reason this book is so important.
Sal Paradise, Kerouac’s alias in the book, is lost in this world, unsure what it all means. But his travelling friend Dean Moriarty is an archetype if the idea of being mindful, in the moment, and living in the now. Kerouac chases this way of living and whilst travelling around America he also has this notable quality. He falls in love and moves on with ease, back on to the road. Whatever the concern; women, money, where to sleep, the answer is always to carry on down the road of life and on to the next adventure.
The book encapsulates the idea that you can be pragmatic and rational in decision making about emotional issues, without worry and anxiety overwhelming them. In modern society, we sweat over the small stuff and, in truth, welcome the feeling of worry. On The Road shows a much simpler time, that we should all try to learn from.
This book did something to the way I understand life and really developed my mindful self. I’d highly recommend it to anyone questioning and being overwhelmed by life.