Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Everybody who's anybody drinks.

Current book: On the Road
Pages read: 260 - 307 (end)

Well, I missed reporting on yesterday's antics. Let's see. Everyone drank and slept with girls.

Sal spends a small amount of time in New York and then eventually finds Dean again, who's now married to Camille in San Francisco. (I think. Honestly, the endless, dead-end, empty relationships are getting hard to keep track of.) Anyway, he and Dean decide to go on another great road trip cross-country, leaving the pregnant Camille all alone and with no support. (Technically, she "threw them out" for staying up all night in her house drinking with strangers. There's this great scene where all of Dean's friends' wives confront him about his treatment of her, and all Sal can do is think about how wronged Dean is. It's almost funny, except that instead it fills me with rage.) They drive like fucking maniacs across the country, sometimes with passengers who fear for their lives (an instinct that Kerouac mocks as dull and pedestrian of them). Eventually they get to New York, where Dean settles for a while, and then marries yet another woman, Inez. (I'm pretty sure he's actually a bigamist at this point, but there may have been divorces. It's unclear.)

Later, Sal goes on a trip alone to Denver, but eventually Dean follows him and they decide to go to Mexico with some other random guy named Tim. They make it all the way to Mexico City, after, you guessed it, drinking and sleeping with girls (actual prostitutes, in this case, and some of them as young as 15). Sal falls ill in Mexico City with a fever, and Dean abandons him there. In the end, Sal ends up in New York and has a steady girlfriend, and Dean ends up back with Camille, miserable and penniless. Gee, I'm all broken up about it.

I can't decide whether I like the misogyny or the utter disregard for everything that's important in life less. One could argue that those go hand in hand. I suppose I shouldn't hold Kerouac responsible for the overt, absurd sexism, since it's a product of the time, but it offends my sensibilities that he thinks everyone should be free and easy and whatever else he decides, but not women. They're either whores or shrews, apparently, and it's just blatantly unfair. At some point, they meet a friend's wife who allows him to go out at all hours, bring friends home, and treat her like she doesn't exist, and Dean has this to say about it,
"Now you see man, there's a real woman for you. Never a harsh word, never a complaint, or modified; her old man can come in any hour of the night with anybody and have talks in the kitchen and drink the beer and leave any old time. This is a man, and that's his castle." (204)
Jesus Christ. It's like goddamned Stepford in here. (Also, "or modified"? What the hell does that mean?)

I realize that I'm about to sound like the biggest square in the world, but as I mentioned in a previous post, Sal and his friends' utter disregard for all responsibility is pretty despicable. In Dean's case, leaving his pregnant wife alone and with no support is the worst crime; in Sal's, I suppose he doesn't have a reason to stay anywhere, but I'm baffled as to how wasting his money, getting smashed, and having sex with women he doesn't like is a good choice, especially since he spends all his time unhappy and fighting, or thinking about how sad America and bars and things like that are. (To be fair, he usually calls things glorious a second before he calls them sad, but there you are.) My favorite moment*, and one that I think characterizes Sal pretty well, is when he says the following to Dean.
"It's not my fault! It's not my fault!...Nothing in this lousy world is my fault, don't you see that? I don't want it to be and it can't be and it won't be." (214)
And there it is, really. That's the material point of this entire novel. Nothing is my fault and I don't care about anything. Seriously, Kerouac? You are such an asshole.

To be fair, the writing is decent, and his voice is both immediate and convincing. I can, I suppose, fathom how some people might enjoy that about it. But honestly, it's like listening to a pompous drunk guy blather about the summer after senior year.

Unworthy of the list. Moving on.

*Another quote that is amusing only because it proves that Kerouac is, quite possibly, insane, is on the last page.
"...and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear?" (113)
For Christ's sake, Jack. Masturbate on your own time.

No comments:

Post a Comment


A Clockwork Orange (5) A Good Man Is Hard to Find (4) A Passage to India (6) A Room with a View (3) A Separate Peace (2) Absalom Absalom (6) Achebe (5) Adams (3) All the King's Men (8) An American Tragedy (17) Atlas Shrugged (16) Babbitt (8) back from hiatus (1) baking (11) Baldwin (4) Baum (3) Bonfire of the Vanities (6) borderline (12) Brideshead Revisited (9) Burgess (5) Burroughs (1) canon (1) Capote (6) Cat's Cradle (3) Cather (19) cheesecake (4) Chopin (4) Conrad (5) cooking (25) Death Comes for the Archbishop (6) DeLillo (6) Dreiser (17) du Maurier (2) Edith Wharton (1) emergency (2) Ethan Frome (1) excuses (141) Faulkner (9) Felicia DeSmith (3) Finnegan's Wake (1) Fitzgerald (24) For Whom the Bell Tolls (3) Forster (19) Fowles (7) Franny and Zooey (2) Go Tell It on the Mountain (4) Grahame (2) Guest post (3) Hammett (2) Hemingway (5) hiatus (4) holiday (5) horrible (4) Howards End (6) In Cold Blood (6) In Our Time (1) Irving (6) James (25) Jazz (1) Joyce (1) Keneally (7) Kerouac (5) Kim (7) Kipling (7) Knowles (2) Lady Chatterly's Lover (6) Lawrence (26) Lewis (13) Light in August (3) London (3) Look Homeward Angel (9) Lord Jim (5) Mailer (7) Main Street (5) Midnight's Children (9) Miller (6) Morrison (1) Mrs. Dalloway (3) My Antonia (6) not a novel (4) O Pioneers (7) O'Connor (4) On the Road (5) Orlando (4) other books (7) page updates (1) Rabbit Run (4) Rand (24) Rebecca (2) recap (1) Rhys (6) Rushdie (18) Salinger (2) Schindler's List (7) Sinclair (6) Sons And Lovers (12) Sophie's Choice (10) Star Trek (1) Stein (5) Styron (10) Tender is the Night (10) The Age of Innocence (4) The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (5) The Awakening (4) The Beautiful and the Damned (8) The Bostonians (9) The Call of the Wild (3) The Fellowship of the Ring (5) The Fountainhead (8) The French Lieutenant's Woman (7) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2) The Jungle (6) The Lord of the Rings (16) The Maltese Falcon (2) The Naked and the Dead (7) The Naked Lunch (1) The Old Man and the Sea (1) The Portrait of a Lady (10) The Return of the King (6) The Satanic Verses (9) The Two Towers (5) The War of the Worlds (4) The Wind in the Willows (2) The Wings of the Dove (6) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (3) The World According to Garp (6) Things Fall Apart (6) This Side of Paradise (6) Thomas Wolfe (9) To the Lighthouse (3) Tolkien (16) Tom Wolfe (6) Triv (2) Tropic of Cancer (6) unworthy (33) Updike (4) vacation (2) Vonnegut (3) Warren (8) Waugh (9) Wells (4) Wharton (4) Where Angels Fear to Tread (4) White Noise (6) Wide Sargasso Sea (6) Women In Love (8) Woolf (10) worthy (25)