Legions of youthful Americans have taken On the Road
as a manifesto for rebellion and an inspiration to hit the road. But there is much more to the book than that. In Why Kerouac Matters
, John Leland embarks on a wry, insightful, and playful discussion of the novel, arguing that it still matters because it lays out an alternative road map to growing up. Along the way, Leland overturns many misconceptions about On the Road
as he examines the lessons that Kerouac’s alter ego, Sal Paradise, absorbs and dispenses on his novelistic journey to manhood, and how those lessons—about work and money, love and sex, art and holiness— still reverberate today.