Book Reports: Deliverance and On the Road

It’s been a few months since I read these two books. I liked Deliverance a lot and found On the Road insufferable. More interestingly maybe, the two books seemed to be about the same thing: discovering real life through voluntary suffering. Deliverance, of course, would be the more middle-aged model and On the Road the more youthful. I suppose maybe that’s why I liked Deliverance better, but I think rather it may have to do with matters of actually having a plot rather than being thinly veiled anti-everything philosophy.

Hadn’t seen the movie version of Deliverance before reading the book, so didn’t know to expect things like “squeal like a pig” (it’s been a few months, but I don’t think that’s quite in the book like that — I mean, the scene happens, just that it’s not quite as iconic as it is in the movie). And I liked the way the book conveyed the characters better than the movie version, with the main character learning to take up the cause of his buddy and grab “real life” by the horns. Kind of a Bildungsroman for a middle-aged man learning to be alive. Also was enamored of the way the book dissipated rather than resolving. Made it feel less contrived and, I think, the openness and ambiguity at the end shined an interesting light on the book’s theme.

On the Road, though, is just so self-satisfied. I’m guessing the whole beat thing is by its nature self-satisfied. And the character of Dean Moriarty is so dull to me, yet the book requires the reader to idolize him. Didn’t work. He’s too cool to be believable and I guess I was brought up to dislike self-important jackasses. Blame my parents, I guess.

I think I also liked Deliverance better from the standpoint that it’s about having experiences for the sake of personal growth. I don’t think the beat generation was really into actual personal growth — I think that’s more about clapping with one hand. Yeah, well, I don’t care for Buddhism much either.




  • Miquela

    Hey, BK;

    I tried to comment on your photo post but I could never get the post or comment field to show up here on your site. Any idea what’s going on?

  • bkdunn

    Yeah, so it’s probably b/c the new LJ cross-poster I found doesn’t care what date I publish something on this blog, it just publishes it on LJ regardless (I got posts queued up through Tuesday at this point, which are all appearing live on LJ). I’m guessing that might be it. (Unless you’re referring to the Photos section of the site — I think that area just doesn’t allow comments.)

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Miquela

    No, I was talking about the cool news on yet another of your photos being accepted for publication (the nifty one with the flags).

    I wanted to tell you “Good eye!” šŸ˜›

  • bkdunn

    It was a big blogging weekend for some reason. Probably because I’m using blogwriting as an excuse not to worry about my novel.

  • telkontar

    I just noticed you’re denigrating all of Buddhism for the shortcomings of a single Zen Buddhist koan. -[This comment advances no discussion.]

  • bkdunn

    Absolutely! Actually it’s more the implications of the Second Noble Truth that seem immoral to me.