Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They're Not What You Think)by John Leland
Legions of youthful Americans have taken On the Road as a manifesto for rebellion and an inspiration to hit the road. But there is much more to the book than that. In Why Kerouac Matters, John Leland embarks on a wry, insightful, and playful discussion of the novel, arguing that it still matters because it lays out an alternative road map to growing/i>/i>
Legions of youthful Americans have taken On the Road as a manifesto for rebellion and an inspiration to hit the road. But there is much more to the book than that. In Why Kerouac Matters, John Leland embarks on a wry, insightful, and playful discussion of the novel, arguing that it still matters because it lays out an alternative road map to growing up. Along the way, Leland overturns many misconceptions about On the Road as he examines the lessons that Kerouac's alter ego, Sal Paradise, absorbs and dispenses on his novelistic journey to manhood, and how those lessons-about work and money, love and sex, art and holiness-still reverberate today.
The New York Times
Having immersed himself in Beat culture while writing Hip: A History, Leland, a New York Timesreporter and former editor-in-chief of Details, makes a convincing case that Jack Kerouac's most famous novel has endured for half a century because it's "a book about how to live your life." The lesson isn't about impulsive self-gratification, as many readers believe, aided by Kerouac's tendency to go vague in his most emotionally critical passages. Leland reminds us that narrator Sal Paradise was always looking to settle down into a conventional life, and Kerouac, Leland says, was generally of a conservative mindset. Framing On the Roadas a spiritual quest, Leland deftly combines the biographical facts of Kerouac's life with discussions of his literary antecedents in Melville and Goethe, as well as the inspiration he took from contemporary jazz, finding in bebop's rhythms a new way to circle around a story's themes. Section headings like "The 7 Habits of Highly Beat People" get a little silly, but Leland's insights provide new layers of significance even for those familiar with the novel. (Aug. 20)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
On the 50th anniversary of the publication of On the Road, New York Timesreporter Leland (Hip: The History) provides a fresh, thought-provoking examination of the Jack Kerouac classic. He explores the novel's themes of male friendship, love and death, family values, jazz, and religion and argues that narrator Sal Paradise's road trips with saintly fool Dean Moriarty constitute an inward journey leading to manhood and maturity. Drawing on Kerouac's own letters and journals as well as on the work of earlier biographers, Leland discusses Kerouac's use of autobiography, focusing on the role of the novel's narrator. He notes that where Sal Paradise succeeds, Kerouac too often fails. Leland's book is one of the first to take advantage of the availability of the original scroll typescript of Kerouac's novel for comparison with the 1957 volume. (Viking will be releasing On the Road: The Original Scrollsimultaneously with the novel's anniversary edition.) Written in an informal, accessible style, it will appeal to Kerouac fans as well as academics. Highly recommended for all literature collections.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Meet the Author
John Leland is a reporter for The New York Times.
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