Literary Influence Part 3: On The Road by Jack Kerouac

If you’ve not heard of On The Road by Jack Kerouac then you are so uncool. I jest, slightly. It is your “cool” persons novel really, the hipsters and the like, which makes me anxious to write a blog on it because I do not consider myself cool or hipster*. But for me this novel is brilliant and influenced me because it influenced and represented a cultural style (the Beat Generation) in a way that an author can only dream of.

*although hipsters deny they are hipsters which makes them hipsters soo… am I a hipster?

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn” (p7)

Based on the travels had by it’s author, On The Road is a book about people. It is laced with characters, all lost and looking for the American dream in their own way. There is drug taking, alcohol drinking, sex, energy, music and travel all seen through the eyes of Sal Paradise, one of the cheesiest fake names I have ever seen.

“Ah, it was a fine night, a warm night, a wine-drinking night, a moony night, and a night to hug your girl and talk and spit and be heavengoing.” (p.81)

A similarity between my novel and Kerouac’s which helped influence me was the drink and drug taking. I think those go hand in hand with being young because you have the fearless want to try new things. Then with that comes the relationship with popular music. In On The Road it is Jazz, which was huge in the Beat culture and for Faces it is club music. It seems like being young, music and drugs are all wrapped up in one big party.

“Dean was having his kicks; he put on a jazz record, grabbed Marylou, held her tight, and bounced against her with the beat of the music” (p113)

This novel is for youth and the young which is why it is probably considered as a cool person’s novel, especially with people’s obsession with travelling too. And my novel, Faces is about youth and being young too. To be honest, that is really the only comparison that can be made with On The Road and Faces of a Small City. This idea of youth having all the answers but then finding out being young means knowing little and learning lots is something that really pushes my novel. It often spurs the predicaments that the main characters get into in On The Road too.

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The Quote on the back cover of my copy of On The Road is from Bob Dylan and it reads, “it changed my life like it changed everyone else’s”.  This is mainly why On The Road was such an influence to me.  It influenced a culture.  I can only dream of that kind of success but, at the end of the day, as an author you must dream and dream big.  You have to hope for the best and expect the worst.  Kerouac’s life as an author changed over night from one novel, that alone influences me to keep writing in the hope that one day I change culture, or at the very least entertain it.

Thanks for reading

Paul

Purchase Faces of a Small City here

Read Part 1: The Great Gatsby

Read Part 2: Seize The Day

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