Point me to a road, and I will ramble down it, and more than likely, stray from it. Loey just reminded me that I haven’t blogged in a while. But I have been on the road – so many roads. The Road, On the Road, On the Road Again, On the Road with Charles Kuralt.
Today I finally watched the movie, The Road, having read the book a few years ago. I love that it is the color of ashes. I wonder: Do I carry the fire?
On the Road Again and On the Road With Charles Kuralt. Both feature two distinct, but fading voices from my adolescence, but I only mention them because they popped into my mind when it began to wander down this topic. I have for some time intended to go where I will take you now…
On the Road. (The Original Scroll. By Jack Kerouac.) Warning: a book review commences here…I was at first fascinated with the romantic idea of this book – the founder of the Beat Generation himself, journeying back and forth across America, the words used to describe his wild longings and adventures trailing behind him like the dusty, greasy miles of highway he leaves behind him. Indeed, Kerouac beautifully accomplishes Joyce-like prose, depicting the post WWII angst of a country in the midst of change in life, politics, and music.
If only the soundtrack of his journey was limited to his thoughts! But no – for much of the journey Jack’s hyper, oversexed, irresponsible traveling companion, Neal, provides uninvited annoying static. Yes, I realize that Neal is just as “beat” as Jack, but while Jack may find Neal’s antics and his search for his father inspiring and refreshing, I found them to be grating. The lead foot of my brain was pressed on my inner gas pedal, speeding on to reach the points where Neal is dropped off to go about his own personal business – usually nursing or aggravating relationships with women he’s left in tattered confusion. I wanted to be left alone with Jack, going to the places his journey would take me. At those times, Jack said things like, “A the end of the American road is a man and a woman making love in a hotel room.” And, “I believed in a good home, in sane and sound living, in good food, good times, work, faith and hope. I have always believed in these things. It was with some amazement that I realized I was one of the few people in the world who really believed in these things without going around making a middleclass philosophy out of it.” Jack seemed to forget all those things when he was with Neal. Until the end of the book.
At the end of the book Jack, Neal and another friend head south of the border, where the sultry sights, sounds and scents of the Mexican desert and its inhabitants subtly, yet definitively overtake and subdue Neal’s static. Still, it’s when he’s sleeping in the back of the car, that Jack’s voice is heard best. Driving through terrain that launches Jack into Biblical allusions, he writes, “…we passed suddenly through a ruined dusty dobe town in which hundreds of shepherds were gathered by the shade of a battered wall, their long robes trailing in the dust, their dogs leaping, their children running, their women with head lowered gazing sorrowfully, the men with high staves watching us pass with noble and chieflike miens, as though they had been interrupted in their communal meditations in the living sun by the sudden clanking folly from America with its three broken bozos inside. ”
The roads are still strewn with broken bozos. One is pulling over for the night right now.