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  • On the Road

  • 50th Anniversary Edition
  • Written by: Jack Kerouac
  • Narrated by: Will Patton
  • Length: 11 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (67 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Few novels have had as profound an impact on American culture as On the Road. Pulsating with the rhythms of 1950s underground America, jazz, sex, illicit drugs, and the mystery and promise of the open road, Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “beat” and has inspired generations of writers, musicians, artists, poets, and seekers who cite their discovery of the book as the event that “set them free”. Based on Kerouac’s adventures with Neal Cassady, On the Road tells the story of two friends whose four cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naïveté and wild abandon, and imbued with Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up. This edition commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the first publication of the novel in 1957 and will be a must-have for any literature lover.

©1955, 1957 John Sampas, Literary Representative, the Estate of Stella Sampas Kerouac (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

What listeners say about On the Road

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This is what audiobooks are meant to be.

Amazingly directed and acted, this audiobook truly shows you what this medium of spoken audio can do. This is the only book I've found so far where voice acting added flavour to the story.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Over Decriptive Bore

I finally gave a chance to this "American Classic". Though the narrator gave it his best Americana accents, the story/writing style is just plain annoying. How many characters need to be named and decribed ("that bum, with the baggy pants, that reminded me of your father..." ? Imagine walking through life and over describing every event <from flipping on a light switch or chewing a granola bar>Also, had anyone kept track of Sal's spending? He starts off with $50 but spends a lot on beer, smokes, bus, apple pie with ice cream, etc. I had to stop listening. Thank you Audible for refunding my credit.
I love visiting the States, traveling the lesser known roads, and was looking forward to an audible adventure. Jack, let me down.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

I didn't like it, the story did not hook me.

I just couldn't connect with any of the characters, The character's swaggering tone annoyed me.

1 person found this helpful

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Hard to get through

I hated the characters. Sal is a lazy pretentious loser who spends most of his time bumming money off of people. Dean is a manipulative POS who leaves a wake of suffering for his "kicks." These are our protagonists. Every other character is barely developed; therefore, these two are the two we have to cling on to. Sal barely has an arc (he realizes Dean sucks). Nothing Dean does ever comes back to get him. These characters are basically static, are awful people and we're stuck with them. The plot is also a problem. In between the beginning of the story and the conclusion, the plot just goes through random story beats that do not link up to anything. There is no point to any of it. It just feels like the ravings of an author who just spewed words on to a page and handed it in on the first draft. There isn't a goal. There isn't a point. There isn't much of a story here. Perhaps when it was written it was a cool story with the depictions of sex and drugs. This might be why it rose to the station it holds in literary circle. This being said, I truly do not understand why this novel is so deeply engrained in the cultural zeitgeist.

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Patton is outstanding

Will Parton was a spectacular choice to narrate this tale as his energy was infectious, even of the book itself was a pretentious mountain of garbage. Some of the most detestable characters I’ve ever encountered. This story does not hold up over time.

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A voice the words were written in

I tried to read this book, but I could never get into it. But listening to this recording brings the poetry and sadness and beauty of it all to light

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Fantastically done!



Yassss! I do not know any other way to describe how I feel about this book except for Yes Yassss! Will Patton brought Jack Kerouac’s book to life in my ears. I felt excited, confused and exhausted. I enjoyed Dean and his crazy distracted ways so much. I found myself laughing out loud by the things Dean would say. Yassss. Rarely have I listened to a book and felt the need to also read it. With Kerouac’s On the Road, I want to fully absorb it. I want to listen to it. I want to read it and I want to watch it. I want to experience it all over again in all formats. Yassss! Jack you had me at “I ate another apple pie and ice cream; that's practically all I ate all the way across the country, I knew it was nutritious and it was delicious, of course.”

And just a little bit from Dean. Yasss!

“Sal, we gotta go and never stop going 'till we get there.'
'Where we going, man?'
'I don't know but we gotta go.”

Ps. All you one star reviewers crack me up.

"I think of Dean Moriarty"
 

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Guillermo
  • 2009-09-17

My Favorite Narration and a Wonderful Book

I estimate I've listened to over a hundred audio books so far. When I try to convince people that they should check out audio books, I always pick this "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac narrated by Will Patton as the first thing they should hear.

There are many books that I am so glad to have heard (the Hyperion series, the Enders Game series, even Atlas Shrugged and of course Armor).

But I don't think I could hear in my head any book as well from paper as Will Patton reads this one out loud. He's poetical, exhuberant, exciting, and makes this whismical and joyous appreciation of life become contagious.

On the road reminds me that there's so much to appreciate in every little thing, and Will Patton is that extra boost to make this great book the best.

119 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • mjsm1th
  • 2007-11-07

Remarkable Characterization

This text has obviously stood the test of time, ushering in the groovy mindset of the 60's. Mr. Kerouac certainly sets the tone for a decade. A fine book.

However, my main praise is reserved for the narrator, Will Patton. He gives a voice, and a whole 3 dimensional characterization of the unstoppable, wild, yet lovable Dean Moriarity. An unforgettable job. Worth a listen just to admire Will do his job with this "rat".

51 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Brian Howell
  • 2014-03-27

Not What I Expected

For me, Will Patton's performance was the saving grace for this audiobook, this was not what I expected. I'd never read On The Road, but had preconceptions that the book would be filled with Beat-philosophy (whatever that would be), and romanticism of the open road. Maybe that's what I got, but I just didn't like what it all turned out to be?

Now, who am I to say what's good and what's bad from a literary point of view? This was my first exposure to Kerouac, and I found his writing style to be an energetic randomness of pointless wandering. For me, there were moments of greatness, but they were few and far between, and the entire story felt like the original "[story] about nothing".

I'm glad I "read" it, and Patton's performance was probably the BEST of any audiobook, but I feel like it's something I've checked off a list. Done and done.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Erez
  • 2007-12-06

Should have bought a different version

I like Kerouac. I like On the Road. I love audiobooks. And I was very disappointed with this one. The narration, for me, is way too "acted", especially the main character/narrator, who is performed throughout the book in a sort of amazed half-whisper. When Kerouac writes for example "Dean lived in a shack with his wife", it sounds like "Dean lived in a _shack_ with _his_wife_!". Now read an entire book like this and you'll see what I mean. It is bearable, but just barely. To make sure I wasn't missing anything, I watched an old video of Kerouac himself reading from the book and he didn't sound like that.

Obviously, this is a matter of personal taste. But I wish I had bought the other version available here.

27 people found this helpful

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  • Gabriel
  • 2010-06-15

A bible!

I have some friends who have decleared this book their bible, and I can see why. It really changes your view of the world.
Will Patton as a narrator is perfect for this novel. He reads it incredibly fast though, so strap up. But that is how this novel needs to be read, because the story takes place is such a pace.
A must-read and a definite five star book!

25 people found this helpful

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  • theboot
  • 2012-02-25

Classic

What made the experience of listening to On the Road the most enjoyable?

This book is of course a classic. I read it once a long time ago and then recently went through the audiobook version. In parts where I struggled to stay completely engaged years back, the narrator keep you fully in the story here. He is simply amazing. His ability to change tones and tempos with the character bring a whole new life to them: It feels like he fully captures the mania and passion of good ol' Dean Moriarty. Quite possibly one of the best narrators I've ever heard.

20 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Erickson
  • 2016-05-05

A trainwreck

This book already started pretty bad, so the only reason I finished it was because I could not believe it could continue being that bad and still have the reputation it has. I'm glad it was audiobook format, or I would not have managed it. Since I can't un-read it, I'll complain about it.

From what I understand, this is a memoir/journal of a character who travels places and does things with certain people. But the characters are all so painfully uninteresting I couldn't care less about any of them. They mostly drive through all of America, so the narrator sort of just names all the places they pass by, them having done absolutely nothing exciting in any of those places. And the main character, the narrator, isn't funny, isn't smart, isn't compassionate or anything else I could have maybe me amused by. He's actually a drunk misogynist jerk, and his friends are all jerks, but this book is trying to convey how ~coo~l they all are. It's kind of embarrassing.

Having there been nothing redeeming about the prose itself, I just feel really sorry I ever picked up this book.

About the audio version: it's finisheable, so the reader isn't half bad, I could't ever have finished this if I was reading it on paper, it was so terrible. So kudos to the reader.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Wendy
  • 2012-11-19

Terrible

I was excited to read this book but found it rambled on & on & never really had a storyline I could follow. I felt like it was a waste of my time.

15 people found this helpful

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  • P Hermes
  • 2011-10-13

What a wild ride!

I first experienced the wonder of On the Road in 1969 and deemed it "far out" (along with just about everything else!). Listening to it these many moons and schools and experiences later I found it just as mind blowing as that first read. My great joy this time was listening to Will Patton's magical interpretation. His melodious, southern-tinged voice is perfect for the ra-ta-tat-tat rhythm of Kerouac's words, pulling me into Sal's world in a way my old 17 year-old brain couldn't possibly have understood. Thanks, Will. Beautifully done.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 2012-01-13

Heard about this book

Since the book is 50+ years old, you hear different references about the book through your life...So I decided to read it.....It was great...Performance was awesome...I'm not sure how Sal stayed with his crazy buddy, but it made for some entertaining stories...I would put this on your "Read someday list"....

12 people found this helpful

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  • Pilette
  • 2021-11-02

Un grand classique lui par une voix parfaite

J'ai eu du mal à rentrer dans l'histoire, mais au fur et à mesure qu'elle avance, elle devient de plus en plus passionnante et j'ai écouté les derniers chapitres quasiment d'un seul trait. La voix de Will Patton est parfaite pour lire ce roman.

1 person found this helpful

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  • saunier
  • 2022-07-07

Not high enough to appreciate the quality of book

Seriously, I'm going to give up after the first 10 chapters. The thourough description of Kerouac's dull days and nights life among a bunch broke and alchoolic felows ... Well not taste