I'm sorry, Jack. I gave it one more shot. When I was 20, I was convinced On the Road was one of the enduring testaments of American Literature. The freedom of the road, discovery, love laughs and bacchanalian days and nights. Since then, I have come back to the Road approximately once per decade. Around the time I was 30, I was convinced you were just not a very good writer. At the time, I feared the old Truman Capote axiom about you typing and not writing was true.If I made it more than halfway through on that go round, I would be surprised.
So here I am at 40, willing to give your tale of the Road one more try. The good news is, I believe you were a much more talented writer than I gave you credit for, for pages at a time it is easy to get lost in rush of the cross country journeys, the search for, the search for...
... well, this is where I fear I won't be signing up for this journey next decade. I can feel your yearning, your search for, for something, but I am convinced you were never really sure what it was, Jack. At the end of the day, you were searching for an America that had passed you by, just as in future decades, thousands of readers were searching for the America they though you represented. But you risked almost nothing. There was also another check for the Aunt to send cross country. Your love for Thomas Wolfe was established from the early days, but in On the Road, you always could go home again. You were a sad man, anyone who thinks On the Road is a joyous story hasn't taken a close look at. Maybe if you had done more to tap into that knowing sadness, the novel would have more resonance, but instead we are left on a journey with the you disguised as Sal Paradise, and you are a cipher, a not very interesting outlier in the stories of others.
Which leaves us with Dean Moriarity, the holy fool of the American Road. As the years go by, it's easier to see poor Dean as more fool than holy, an egotistical manchild only looking out for his own insatiable desires.The more Kerouac built up Moriarity as the spirit of the American road, the more I realize Kerouac may not have understood America at all.