Yikes, where to begin. As the film was released to such an iconic novel it seemed important to read the novel first (iconic enough to consider seeing a movie with Kristen Stewart in). Not only that, but the novel also appears on the 1001 Books: You Must Read Before You Die list. So, Amazon Marketplace to the rescue and a near-mint copy of the novel arrived in my pigeon-hole at work the next day. If only I'd known what it was going to be like – I joined the library the same week and should have saved myself the money by borrowing it from there – luckily, the book I did borrow from the library, Diaspora City: The London New Writing Anthology (recommended so far), provided a fantastic respite in the shape of some excellent short stories to read between sections of On the Road. In fact, I can't quite believe it took me two weeks to read this. I guess that's an indication of how painful a process it was, and that I kept taking breaks to read other short-stories.
Allegedly, On the Road is the American story of the search for self; the defining novel of the beat generation; or some such crap like that. In five parts, it's the tale of four different road-trips from 1947 through to 1950. In reality it's the irritating tale of Salvatore 'Sal' Paradise and his equally moronically named friends (Dean Moriaty and Carlos Marx anybody?) bumming their way across America – driving, busing, stealing, shagging, taking drugs, partying and generally competing to be the most self-obsessed, pompous, selfish, annoying, fuck-wit in the world (I think ultimately Dean Moriaty just edges it in this competition). Man (everyone's man), I did not 'dig' this book. It really annoyed me, or whatever the opposite of dig is.