Tag Archives: dean

Review On the Road by Jack Kerouac (DNF)

Essential Edition handsomely packaged with french flaps, rough fronts, high-quality paper, and a distinctive cover look

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “Beat” and has inspired every generation since its initial publication more than forty years ago.

Genre: Classic Literature
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: January 1, 1976
Page Count: 307
Source: My copy.
Rating: No rating (DNF)

The simple truth of my opinion of this book is this: On the Road is boring, and that’s why I didn’t finish it. I don’t know if I’m one of those people who shouldn’t read classics because they just don’t “get it”, or if it was legitimately not interesting. I’ll go for the latter as I picked up this book as a book club read and three other women who range in age and reading tastes could not get into it either. While I realize On the Road is not in the same league as some of the other classics I’ve read, I feel it important to mention that I loved To Kill a Mockingbird in high school; while I disliked the majority of the Jane Austen books I’ve read I loved Pride & Prejudice; and though I thought its politics were tiring and overdone, I thought Anna Karenina was okay. So even though I haven’t read Jane Eyre, any of Bukowski’s or Vonnegut’s work, Brave New WorldLes Mis, or A Clockwork Orange, I don’t view myself a total Classic Lit virgin. But On the Road was so boring.

I wasn’t too familiar with the Beat Generation when I went into this book, and hoped On the Road would spell it out for me. It didn’t. I got more information from Wikipedia. While I recognize the novel’s unique writing style and quotable language, it seemed to me that Sal’s interests were getting drunk and hitchhiking. Vonnegut once said of his relationship with Kerouac:

“I knew Kerouac only at the end of his life, which is to say there was no way for me to know him at all, since he had become a pinwheel. He had settled briefly on Cape Cod, and a mutual friend, the writer Robert Boles, brought him over to my house one night. I doubt that Kerouac knew anything about me or my work, or even where he was. He was crazy. He called Boles, who is black, “a blue-gummed n****r.” He said that Jews were the real Nazis, and that Allen Ginsberg had been told by the Communists to befriend Kerouac, in order that they might gain control of American young people, whose leader he was.”

I don’t know if Kerouac had acted this way because he drank himself insane, but I would guess that he did since he died at 47 from internal bleeding, a result of a lifetime abuse of alcohol.

My intent with this review is not to bash on Kerouac. Based on his fan base, he is practically a great American hero, and, frankly, I’m sure he is fascinating. My point is to give an insight to Sal who was, ultimately, Kerouac. And I’ve read books on traveling (backpacking, specifically), that encompassed the wonder of traveling with friends, meeting new people, and discovering oneself through the beauty of the outdoors. And I don’t think On the Road successfully does that. I think it encompasses Sal and his needs to see through the bottom of a bottle. And yes, I only read 80 pages of the book, but surely that is enough for something to happen? Yet it doesn’t. Sal travels across the country, completely obsessed with Dean and Carlo, who don’t really seem to give a shit about him – they often forget he’s even there – and Remi, who thinks the world owes him something. I don’t really know what one would want to do with these types of characters. Yet Sal wants nothing more.

I’ve wanted to read this book for some time, ever since a recommendation came from one of my favorite independent authors, and as I gazed over the book at the bookstore so many times. You readers will probably never forgive me for this, but I will sheepishly admit that when buzz came across about On the Road The Movie and Kristen Stewart mentioned in one of her interviews that On the Road was one of her favorite books as a teen, I went out and picked it up. The girl, Robert Pattinson cheater or not, intrigues me. (I also wanted to see the movie and for some reason CANNOT watch the movie without reading the book first. It’s a personality fault.) And I was really looking forward to reading it. I mean, beyond the boredom, there was one instance where Sal was out to prove the wonders and beauty of life to a girl by making love to her, but he failed at the making love part, making the sexual encounter a quickie, ultimately failing to prove to her that life was beautiful. She seemed disappointed. And I was disappointed. Maybe it’s realistic of Kerouac. But for me, it was the one part of the first third of the book that got me to sit up in my seat and pay attention – not because of the possible romance, but because of the evolution of Sal as a character, the evolution of anything in this book – and yet it ended up being worth nothing. And then it just went right back into the swing of things. Sal’s drinking and Remi’s bullshit. I didn’t get much farther until I picked up something else.

This book just fell horribly flat for me. It bored me, and unlike Anna Karenina (a book that was so very hard for me to finish), I didn’t particularly like any of the characters enough to force myself to read on. I know that there are so many people that adore Kerouac and this book. Unfortunately, it would seem that I’m not one of them. I don’t know, maybe I don’t get it. But if I have to suffer through the rest of this book to get it, I don’t really want to.

Advertisements

Review Miss Me Not by Tiffany King

 

They had a pact. 
Leave the world behind much as they had lived it.
No one would miss them. No harm, no foul.
Their personal demons would be left behind once and for all. 
It was the only thing they could count on. 
It was all she had.

Madison Hanson has spent the last four years being a “shadow.” Her parents ignore her. The students at her school stopped talking to her years ago, and the majority of her teachers forget she’s even there. In her desperate yearning to leave her invisible life behind, Madison makes a pact with her only friend, James Garrison, to end their lives as inconspicuously as they live them. No fuss, no muss. No one would miss her and she would miss no one. Their plan is set, and it’s all she can count on. That is, until fellow student, Mitch Peterson, beats them to the punch. Everything Madison believed in is shaken to the core when she watches the aftermath of Mitch’s death unfold. By taking his own life, Mitch unwittingly saves hers. What a selfish prick. 

She is now left with the daunting task of living. Trying to bury her demons once and for all, and finally trusting someone with her fragile existence. 

Living is hell.
Death would have been so much easier.

Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Indie
Release Date: November 23, 2012
Page Count: 316
Source: My copy.
Rating: 4/5

I ran to my Nook on release day to pick up this novel because I have heard so much about this author and suicide/depression/mental illness is so very close to my heart. Teen suicide is no easy subject to breach, and I was very interested to see King’s take on it.

It started out with this very unlikable character, Madison. But that was the point, really. She was a very angry person who just wanted to die. I would have liked more background on her’s and James’ pact, like how they came to the decision and more of their friendship pre-pact, but it was okay. For me, her inner monologue was too obvious – the author seemed to always want to point out when Madison was to have a serious thought, which felt very unnatural to me. But her desires were believable.

And then Mitch, a classmate, committed suicide, which ruined their plans. Like I said, Madison was very unlikable. King did a very good job at portraying her anger for the reader. She was an angry girl who was just seething inside. Nothing and no one could change her mind about herself, about her world. She has had her ways of coping up to this point, but obviously, those coping mechanisms aren’t working out. Enter Dean.

Dean is a genuinely good guy. He lost his friend to suicide and wants to help Madison. I enjoyed reading about Dean and his perfect family. And not perfect in a bad way either – they were all very compassionate. The way they acted, their connections with each other, were not relatable (for me) – my family isn’t really like that – but they were very believable. I believed that there could be a family out there that exists just like Dean’s family.

By the end, I thought Madison’s character and her relationship with Dean were developed well. He was quite the teenage savior and protector towards Madison. I thought their kiss was very awkward and some of their dialogue was sort of corny – I didn’t always feel the romance or the steam that Madison described – but the characters were written so well that I overlooked it. I definitely have my reservations about this novel, but the author made up for any gripes I may have with the ending. I thought the Epilogue was beautifully done and couldn’t have asked for a better closing.

All in all, I think it’s an important novel and enjoyed King’s writing. I’d definitely read more of her work.