ON THE ROAD is widely considered a classic American novel and has inspired generations of young travellers. Jack Kerouac writes autobiographically about his travel across America from east to west and then down south to Mexico with his rag tag group of beatnik friends in the late 1940s.
Kerouac tells the story of the emerging beat generation and what it means to be beat. He captures the essence of one of the first American post-war counter-cultures through a richly descriptive stream of consciousness narrative style. The way the novel is written reminds me of the crazy kind of drunk conversations you would have at around 3 am at a house party with some guy you’ve never met before. It takes some time to get into this kind of writing style because it jumps around a lot, but I think it was the perfect choice to capture these characters in this specific time and place.
I found ON THE ROAD to be such fascinating modern classic because it so perfectly captures the spirit of the time it was written in and the culture that Kerouac and the characters who inspired the novel helped to create. Post-war America is such an interesting time to me from a sociological perspective. The idea of teenagers and leisure time were first invented during this period, and advertising was also fast becoming a huge part of our lives. The beatniks that Kerouac so passionately describes were also the foundations that inspired many counter-cultures.