- Interesting book about the crazy and free lifestyle of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty as they travel across the US. Emphasizes living a free lifestyle that goes against society’s expectations and is very stream of consciousness without a lot of formal structure (mimics the character’s lives)
- The genius and beauty of this book lies in the details and is based on Kerouac’s own travels and his friends
- Known for its expressions of restless, idealistic youth who yearn for something more than the bland conformity of a generally prosperous society.
- “The jungle takes you over and you become it”
- Dean fascinates Sal, and with their friendship begins three years of restless journeys back and forth across America
- With a combination of bus rides and adventurous hitchhiking escapades, Sal goes to his much-dreamed-of west to join Dean and more friends in Denver, and then continues west by himself, working as a fieldworker in California for awhile, among other things
- The next year, Dean comes east to Sal again, foiling Sal’s stable life once more, and they drive west together, with more crazy adventures on the way at Bull Lee’s in New Orleans, ending in San Francisco this time
- The winter after that, Sal goes to Dean, and they ride across the country together in friendly fashion, and Dean settles in New York for awhile. In the spring, Sal goes to Denver alone, but Dean soon joins him and they go south all the way to Mexico City this time
- Through all of this constant movement, there is an array of colorful characters, shifting landscapes, dramas, and personal development
- Dean, a big womanizer, will have three wives and four children in the course of these three years. Perceptive Sal, who at the beginning is weakened and depressed, gains in joy and confidence and finds love at the end.
- At first Sal is intrigued by Dean because Dean seems to have the active, impulsive passion that Sal lacks, but they turn out to have a lot more in common.
What I got out of it
- Somewhat difficult to read at points because it is so stream of consciousness and all over the place, but that is the point of this book. Although they all have a crazy lifestyle, the type of freedom they enjoy just driving across America is often enviable