Tag Archives: Let’s Talk About It

On the Road

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On the RoadOn the Road by Jack Kerouac

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling North America with his friend Neal Cassady. The novel is largely autobiographical with “Sal Paradise” being the author, and “Dean Moriarty” being Neal Cassady, “a young Gene Autry—trim, thin-hipped, blue-eyed, with a real Oklahoma accent—a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” The two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

I gave this novel 3 Stars — because I Liked It. I read this book as a participant in the Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma, Journey Stories book and discussion program.

They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because 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!”

Sal Paradise, young and innocent, joins the slightly crazed Dean Moriarty on a ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for fulfillment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac’s novel defined the Beat Generation.

They were like the man with the dungeon stone and the gloom, rising from the underground, the sordid hipsters of America, a new beat generation that I was slowly joining.

On the Road was written in three weeks in April 1951. The original manuscript was written on a scroll, a continuous one hundred and twenty-foot scroll of tracing paper sheets that Jack Kerouac cut to size and taped together. The scroll was typed single-spaced, without margins or paragraph breaks. Besides differences in formatting, the published novel was shorter than the original scroll manuscript and used pseudonyms for all of the major characters.

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Let’s Talk About It

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“Let’s talk about it,” I said to myself as I sat down at a recent Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma! book & discussion program.

Since taking up reading this year, I have found that the hardest part of reading for me is deciding which book to read next, so I am always thinking about and looking for a next good book to read. So when I read a press release online at KGYN Radio News about the Journey Stories, Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma! I was ready to start ready and talking about it.

Four Oklahoma Panhandle State University staff, faculty and former faculty will be guest scholars for the Spring 2011 Journey Stories book discussion programs. Journeys and stories about them have gone together since people first got the idea of telling stories. Books to be read and discussed include the grandfather of western literary tradition journey stories, The Odyssey by Homer. Americans in particular have been lured by the siren song of the open road and journeys in search of adventure. On the Road, Travels with Charley, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance all describe journeys of that kind. With The Life of Pi, we return again to the realm of myth and fantasy.

Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma! Reading and Discussion Programs in Oklahoma Communities is a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council and sponsored locally by Guymon Public Library. The program is free.

I was unable to attend the first scheduled discussion group on The Odyssey by Homer because I was out of town traveling on business, but I read On the Road by Jack Kerouac and anxiously looked forward to MY first discussion group.

When I arrived at the meeting room, there were only two others in attendance. In fact, besides me, only the presenter and the public library program coordinator were there. After waiting a few minutes, the presenter proceeded with the discussion.

The presenter had prepared a lot of material that I found interesting and instructive in understanding the literary significance of what I had read. We talked about the book in general, its impact on literature, and we discussed the author and his objective. Remember this is a free program and yet much time and effort went into the presentation and preparation to lead a group discussion, and nobody else showed up.

I finished reading John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley yesterday and started in on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

I sure hope to see more folks attend the next book discussion.

 

Here is a link to the KGYN Radio News story with book titles, dates, time and location of the meetings: Journey Stories — Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma! spring 2011 book discussions slated