on the road

The True Story Behind the Letter That Inspired Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’

The famous “Joan Anderson” letter from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac has been found in Southern California. Cassady apparently wrote the letter to Kerouac in a drug-fueled, sex-crazed haze on December 17, 1950. The rest is literary history.

Kerouac famously called the letter “the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better’n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves.” It was the muse that lent the jazzy energy and so-called “stream of consciousness” style to On the Road and the rest of his Duluoz Legend, in which Cassady appears as a clandestine presence (either as Dean Moriarty or Cody Pomeray). But the letter itself disappeared. … Read More

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10 Disappointing Film Adaptations of Classic American Novels

Not all great American novels make great American movies, and after three previous Gatsby movies, it’s surprising that Baz Luhrmann decided to try his hand at Fitzgerald’s novel. With the exception of John Steinbeck (and, depending on your taste, John Grisham), few American authors have produced a handful of novels fit for the cinema. This is not necessarily a bad thing — as far as artistic mediums go, film and novels are strikingly different. But while the literary world is a go-to for Hollywood executives hoping that popular novels will seamlessly transition to the screen (and achieve the same positive response), it isn’t exactly a reliable source of artistic or commercial hits. Among these ten adaptations are valiant efforts as well as unmitigated disasters, none of which successfully captured the charm of their source material. … Read More

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10 Literary Parodies That Work

Well, at least there’s one decidedly delicious thing to have come out of the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. Quite literally delicious: this week sees the release of 50 Shades of Chicken: A Parody in a Cookbook, which details the sordid adventures of a young, inexperienced chicken as she gets her breasts and thighs handled by a chef — while serving up some excellent recipes for roasting chicken as well. It’s enough to make you snort that cooking wine right out of your nose. Inspired by this new and hilarious release, we’ve put together a list of ten literary parodies that totally work on their own merit — no mere joke books these. Click through to see which we chose, and if we missed your favorite parody, be sure to add it to our list in the comments. … Read More

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10 ‘Unfilmable’ Books That Made It to the Big Screen

Some books, critics say, are simply unfilmable. And it’s true — until, of course, they get filmed. This year, we feel like we can’t turn around without running into a new film adaptation of a book that has, until now, been generally agreed to be too stylistically complex, too structurally strange, too epic in proportion for the big screen. While we’re still waiting on Pale Fire and 100 Years of Solitude, we’re getting two in the next two weeks alone: Cloud Atlas and Midnight’s Children. Inspired by this turn of events, we’ve put together a list of a few supposedly unfilmable books that have been adapted into films against all odds — some with great success, and others with, well, less success. Read our list after the jump, and add your own unfilmable favorites in the comments! … Read More

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This Week in Trailers: 'Dark Shadows,' 'Hemingway and Gellhorn,' and more

Every Friday here at Flavorwire, we like to gather up the week new movie trailers, give them a look-see, and rank them from worst to best — while taking a guess or two about what they might tell us (or hide from us) about the movies they’re promoting. We’ve got seven new trailers for you this week, including new films from Nicole Kidman, Clive Owen, Kate Hudson, and a new Johnny Depp-Tim Burton collaboration. Check ’em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments. … Read More

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Literary Advice: Ask Dean Moriarty

Last week we kicked off our literary advice column with Miss Havisham, the lady of the manor featured in Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations. This week Dean Moriarty from On the Road has answered your questions with aplomb. Next week it’s Howard Roark from Ayn Rand’s libertarian screed, The Fountainhead, so feel free to ask him questions in the comments section below — just make sure you’re deferential, but not obsequious. You know how that enigmatic architect feels about weakness. … Read More

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Vintage ‘On the Road’ Covers From Around the World

As we wait in trepidation for the film version of On the Road and gently bemoan the news that e-books now outsell paper books, we’ve been thinking about all the many iterations of cover art that have graced Kerouac’s world-changing novel, from the impressionistic to the flat out ugly, from the sexed-up to the somewhat insensitive (a whiskey bottle for someone who died of cirrhosis? Really, now). We’ve already given you a roundup of vintage Lolita covers from home and abroad, so we thought it might be nice to take a look at the vintage covers of On the Road, a book that is — design-wise at least — diametrically opposed to Nabokov’s classic. Think men, cars and broken down diner images, as opposed to the flowers and girlish knees of the Lolita art. Click through to see our gallery of vintage American and foreign covers, and don’t forget to check out Kerouac’s own idea for what his book cover should look like — it seems pretty thematially on par with the rest. … Read More

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The Top 10 Sidekicks in Literature

What’s a good hero without a trusty sidekick? From the open road to deserted islands to Middle Earth, friendships inevitably form. Of course, most of the time, the plot’s weight shifts primarily on one character. This leaves the other to fill in the gaps, complementing the temperament and abilities of the hero — and maybe adding a laugh or two here and there. We rank the top 10 sidekicks in literature based on loyalty, friendship, and overall awesomeness. Let us know who we missed! … Read More

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Double Exposure: One Subject, Two Films

The cultural zeitgeist can be a strange thing indeed. A few years ago, it brought us a pair of competing Truman Capote films, 2005’s widely lauded Capote and 2006’s unfairly overlooked Infamous. Then there was poor Baz Luhrmann, who wanted to make an Alexander the Great film starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the early ’00s, only to have his project canceled to avoid overlap with Oliver Stone’s Alexander (2004). And it seems that the next few years will bring another raft of competing films on the same topic, from adaptations of counterculture classics to dueling Marilyn Monroe biopics. After the jump, we compare five such pairs to predict which will win each category. … Read More

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Fiction Fix: “On the Road” with James Franco

This week, Fiction Fix takes a break from our standard tough-love, “read this or else!” strategy to try a kinder, gentler tack: we recommend you listen to some fiction as read by a hot guy. Lapham’s Quarterly, shamelessly pandering to James Franco’s current obsession with the Beats, enlisted the Spiderman actor (whose own short story collection is forthcoming) to read some Kerouac. The result: Franco’s dulcet tones draw us in to Kerouac’s seminal story of Dean, Carlo, Mary Lou, et. al. Sure, you probably should have read it in high school, but on some level, your 10th grade self must have been holding out for the Hollywood hunk audio version.

Have a listen here, and move on to the complete novel… Read More

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