Tuesday, September 4, 2007

50 Years On the Road

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Kerouac's On the Road. It's hard for me to talk about this without getting over-indulgent so bear with me. I read most of it for the first time sitting in my car, parked on the shore of Lake Superior by the ore dock. I guess I was there because my roommate, my friend's cousin, was officially crazy... and I needed an honest, quiet place to experience it. Well, it consumed me. There was something so transcendent about the beat, hobo lifestyle of the late forties, early fifties. Jazz and friends and constantly, constantly... the road.

Two years ago I traveled west to see some friends, and when I got to Nebraska I jumped off the freeway onto old Route 6, the same road that these guys took from the East Coast to Denver, onto San Fran, and back again. It was a hell of a feeling and I listened to Charlie Parker and tried to draw myself back to that other time. Unlike Dean Moriarty, however, I kept it under 80mph.

Needless to say I continue to peruse it on a regular basis. Since then I've become aware of it's shaky foothold in the world of literature, scoffed at by John Updike and the like. But to me its simplicity adds a necessary pureness to this chronicle of the Beats.

All right, I'll go back to poking fun at Mark Trail.

No comments: