The edited-out versions of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, direct from the scroll, are coming out soon. Awesome. Though I expect it to be largely gibberish—it wasn't just edited out because it was controversial, but because it was likely unintelligible from the editor's point of view—it's exciting to think of reading the book in its full form. Just before leaving for Florida in June, I read Desolation Angels, and earlier in the spring I read Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954.
Now, On the Road is one of my favorite books, like every other book, far behind Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and slightly behind Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey (or slightly ahead, depending on my mood). I have read it about five times, and the last impression I have of it is that you first get swept up in the fast-moving free-wheeling roaming-about feeling of the book, partly because of the prose style, partly because of the content—one mimics the other. But in approximately the second half of the book, I get a different feeling—irresponsibility, lack of character, uselessness. I still get the talk about "knowing time" and the freedom of moving about, exploring the idea of God and people in different quarters of the US, but Desolation Angels brought a new view to that. In the second half of that book, you can feel Jack's tiredness with the Beat "movement" and the flitting about, acting intellectual, acting as if there's more than there is, just acting different instead of being—a sort of critique on the movement that he helped to start.
Anyway, more on this later, perhaps. Why is this in a blog called "Road Trip to Space?" First, because I prefer this type of literature to astronaut biographies, and it is my blog, dammit. Second, because I'm writing a piece where I simply take out the word "Beat" and replace it with "Space," i.e., thinking about the Space Generation as an insider-outsider, much as Jack did with Ginsberg and Co., the drivers of the Beat Generation.
maybe you can shed some light on this book for me. i started reading it a few months back (on my way back from arizona), mainly b/c of all the ranting and raving i had heard about the book. but i'll be honest. i didn't even make it 100 pages in b/c it bored the crap out of me. did i miss something big? did i not get far enough? i thought it was just me but i asked neighbor matt (the engineer/writer, and the person whom i borrowed the book from) what he thought of the book and what he "big deal" was and he admitted he didn't make it much farther (or is it further, i always screw this up) than me...
I haven't read this book so far and I thought I knew enough of western literature. Guess, you don't get it in India.
It wouldn't be too surprising if they don't offer it in India. If I remember correctly, it wasn't even widely available in the US when it came out in the 1950's because of McCarthy-era censorship (I could be wrong)—a little too much counterculture in that book for their taste. I'll have someone mail me my copy and I'll bring it to Mumbai. You can have it; I've read it plenty of times.
The first time reading it was the hardest. It was like watching The Big Lebowski for the first time: "where is the plot?" Then you realize there is no plot. That book, and all of his books except The Town and the City, are almost entirely taken from events of his life, so there is plenty in there that are just chronologically added details. I'll think of how to describe it better sometime, but it grew on me the second time I read it, which was three years after the first time. Then, it was almost my favorite (seriously, Cat's Cradle is way out there in first place).