May’s book club choice was the 1950s Beat classic On the Road by Jack Kerouac. The book tells the story of Sal Paradise’s travels around American with his rag-tag group of friends, criss-crossing the country over a period of three years. Having had widespread critical acclaim and featuring on many must-read lists the group really enjoyed the opportunity to read and discuss a modern classic.
There was initially some confusion at the meeting, as some editions of the book use fictitious character names, which were used in order to protect the real-life personalities and publishers when the book was published, and others the real-life names of Kerouac, William S Burroughs and Neal Cassidy etc…
Overall everyone enjoyed the opportunity to read such a well-known book and get into what life was like on the road, though one person did describe is as the ramblings of a madman! There was a little disappointment over the lack of description of the places that Sal visited, with the exception of their time in Mexico, and similarly of the treatment of female characters in the story. There was also a view that this book and its youthful freedom might have had more resonance to teenagers, in the way another American classic Catcher In The Rye appears to, but the majority of the mixed-age group really enjoyed it.
Our next book is Room by Emma Donoghue, which we will discuss at 6pm on 30th June at the Church St branch of Urban Coffee Company. All are welcome – even those that don’t finish the book!