I have a confession to make.
I’ve been reading On The Road for over a year now and I’m still not even halfway through. No, I’m not joking, but I sincerely wish I was. It’s been more than 365 days since I downloaded Jack Kerouac’s wonder-novel onto my kindle. 365 days since I read the first sentence: “I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up”.
Here’s a second confession.
I’ve frequently quoted this book across social media, as if i’ve read it a thousand times. Please forgive me for this, because my god does he have some amazing thoughts. Is it my fault that I can only handle a few of them in one sitting?
“The only people for me are the mad ones. The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved.”
“Because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars.”
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
At first I thought, Jack gets me! I get him! I too love to travel and brood about life. He’s a brilliant lost soul and I can’t wait to dive further into his mind.
Are you wondering what went wrong yet? How we drifted apart?
Here’s the problem I have with this masterpiece. It’s too damn spastic. Whenever I think that I’ve finally gotten into it, he jumps off in another direction, another page, another story I need to connect with. There’s no comfort within the lines for me. I can’t relax. It’s not enough that he’s on the road. I need some continuity. I have ADD, and apparently so does Jack.
So we clash, and that’s that. When most people don’t jive well with a book, they just put it down and forget it. So why have I been trying to force a relationship with On The Road for over 365 days?
For one thing, every few weeks, I’ll see it just hanging out on my kindle. The bright red cover and that penciled, chiseled face. It opens its mouth and says “Elena, give me another try. We were getting along so well for a couple of those chapters. Look how tortured I am. You love tortured writers.” And then I give in and read a few more pages, before getting distracted by a fly buzzing around the room, the weather outside, my thoughts, pretty much anything and everything.
Another thing is, even after all this time, I still feel that reading this book in its entirety will somehow give me a new profound outlook on life and make me a more intelligent human. Somewhere in the back of my mind I’m thinking, just keep moving forward, this is the perfect challenge! This is a great piece of literature! Just think of how great it’ll feel once you get to the last page. As if reading the last word will trigger some lame lottery-winning tune and the book will shout: Ta-da! You’ve won at life!
Well, today I gave it one last shot. I even went to a coffee shop to try and minimize distractions. I had no such luck. Instead, I made a game of counting how many times some random person would forget to lock the bathroom door, causing another patron to walk in on them peeing. It was 4, by the way.
So with a sigh of relief, I need to say it to someone other than just myself:
We weren’t meant to be. I’d prefer to read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar any day (and in one sitting).
Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more.
One response to “Hit the road, Jack”
I liked it Elena…it would love to read a short story by u
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