Thursday, September 5, 2019

Happy 62nd Anniversary to On The Road!

My well-loved copy of On The Road (the tabs are
from when I taught a yearly Kerouac class at the University of Maine at Farmington from 2013-2017)
which I curated here

Jack Kerouac's On The Road was published 62 years ago today on September 5, 1957. It garnered a rave review from the New York Times (the regular reviewer didn't like the book but was on vacation -- a stroke of luck for Jack) -- click here to read the review -- and the rest, as they say, is history.

I don't know what can be said about the importance of this book -- and therefore this date in history -- that hasn't already been said better by smarter folks than yours truly. Suffice to say that on today's date in 1957, Jack Kerouac started on the path of fame we all know so well, with its ups and downs, strikes and gutters (Jack would appreciate that movie reference).

It's not my favorite book of Jack's -- that honor goes to The Dharma Bums -- but it's certainly his most well-known work and, as I found when teaching it at the college level, it stands the test of time fairly well. Many students were into it (and some were not, but you could say that about pretty much any book you require a group of young people to read).

In honor of today's significance, it would be appropriate to read some of On The Road.* Just grab your dog-eared copy and open to a random section and read. If that's not possible, below is the last paragraph (which Jack read aloud in 1959 on the Steve Allen TV show mashed up with a section from Visions of Cody -- here's a link so you can read along).
So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.

With that, we wish On The Road a happy anniversary. Yair!

*Or read the whole book, which is do-able in several hours.

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