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Posted on December 2, by Scott Alexander I. On The Road is a terrible book about terrible people. Jack Kerouac and his terrible friends are brought to the brinks of a lot of things, actually. Enlightenment, revelation, truth, the real meaning of America, the ultimate, the sacred — if it has a brink, they will come to it.
Crucially, they never cross that brink or gain any lasting knowledge or satisfaction from the experience. Kerouac cannot frickin shut up about Dean Moriarty.
Who is this superman, this hero? His specialty was stealing cars, gunning for girls coming out of high school in the afternoon, driving them out to the mountains, making them, and coming back to sleep in any available hotel bathtub in town.
Okay, but you have overwrought religious adjectives to describe all of this, right? But please, tell us more: Ed had met a girl called Galatea who was living in San Francisco on her savings.
These two mindless cads decided to bring the girl along [on one of their seven zillion pointless cross-country trips] and have her foot the bill. In a whirlwind few days Ed Dunkel married Galatea, with Dean rushing around to get the necessary papers, and a few days before Christmas they rolled out of San Francisco at seventy miles per, headed for LA and the snowless southern road.
Two nights she forced a stop and blew tens on motels. By the time they got to Tucson she was broke. Dean and Ed gave her the slip in a hotel lobby and resumed the voyage alone, with the sailor, and without a qualm. All right, Jack, how are you gonna justify this one?
Dean was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man he was only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him. I too enjoy life. Yet somehow this has never led me to get my friend to marry a woman in order to take her life savings, then leave her stranded in a strange city five hundred miles from home after the money runs out.
He rarely commits any great misdeeds himself. He brings this kind of stuff up only incidentally, as Exhibits A and B to support his case that Dean Moriarty is the freest and most perfect and most wonderful human being on Earth, and sort of moves past it before it becomes awkward.
An enthusiastic reader, caught up in the spirit of the book, might easily miss it. You have absolutely no regard for anybody but yourself and your damned kicks.
It never occurs to you that life is serious and there are people trying to make something decent out of it instead of just goofing all the time.
Dean has stolen about a dozen cars. He has married one woman, had an affair with another, played the two of them off against each other, divorced the first, married the second, deserted the second with a young child whom she has no money to support, gone back to the first, dumped the first again so suddenly she has to become a prostitute to make ends meet.Book Review Writing: A guide for young reviewers Introduction a reader who can read a book and then cook up a review designed to whet the reading appetites of other book lovers.
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