>> 21 March 2010

Here is a video of Lionel Messi scoring a hat-trick (and creating a fourth goal) for Barcelona. The skill involved in the second goal in particular is colossal, and his dribble into the box to win the penalty kick is sublime.

And if you weren't impressed by this hat-trick, you can always remember that he scored three goals in his last league game.

Anyone who says that Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo is better is out of his mind!


Book Review: On The Road

>> 11 March 2010

On the Road On the Road by Jack Kerouac

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A few years ago, I read Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums and resolved after I'd turned the final page that I would not be reading any more of Kerouac's work. During the ensuing years, I remained curious about On The Road, a novel so steeped in folklore and so pervasive in our culture that I felt like by virtue of having not read the novel, I was somehow missing out on a part of my own country. So, finally, I broke down and decided to give On The Road a chance.

The plot of On The Road follows a young man, Sal Paradise, on his three journeys across America (and into Mexico on the third excursion). Along the way, he meets a wide array of people and friends, including the (in)famous Dean Moriarty, with whom he travels for a time before parting ways. Sal leaves his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his aunt, in pursuit of excitement and adventure in the American West. As Sal himself explains:

I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn...
When he sets out, he is confident that he will find some transcendental experience. "Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me." After three journeys across the country, he has still not found this shimmering ideal that he hopes to find. In the end, Sal realizes that Dean Moriarty, the man he idolized for most of the book, is sort of a jerk, and that his search for a promised land is not going to bear fruit

The legend is that Jack Kerouac wrote the entire novel during a very short period of time and then whisked it away to his publishers, but in fact, although Kerouac did use a spontaneous writing technique - his maxim was: fist thought, best thought - the novel actually underwent fairly extensive revision before its publication. The book's prose style is one of its biggest selling points. Although he does overuse some words (he must have used the words 'mad' and 'ragged' at least 2,000 times) he is able to create and sustain these long breathless sentences with so much momentum that despite the thin plot, you keep going because each sentence seems to propel you into the next.

I have read many books with less literary acclaim that I think are better than On The Road; however, I did enjoy this book a great deal. Although most of us know better than to think that we will discover Nirvana simply by crossing the Rockies enough times, I think that Sal's desire to be in all of the places where he is not is an important part of our cultural history. On The Road deserves its place in the American literary canon because of its innovative writing style and its unique insight into a important part of our national psyche.

View all my reviews

Questions for Discussion:
  1. Have you read On The Road? If so, what did you think about it?
  2. Are there any other Kerouac novels that you can recommend? The Dharma Bums has made me apprehensive about reading another one of his books.


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