On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West." As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty," the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.
Below is an extract from On the Road: The Original Scroll. The text below was omitted from the original publication of the novel:
In the middle of the Pecos country we all began talking about what we would be if we were Old West characters. “Neal, you’d be an outlaw for sure” I said “but one of those crazy-kickoutlaws galloping across the plains and shooting up saloons.” “Louanne would be the dancing hall beauty. Bill Burroughs would live at the end of town, a retired Confederate colonel, in a big house with all the shutters drawn and come out only once a year with his shotgun to meet his connection in a Chinese Alley. Al Hinkle would play cards all day and tell stories in a chair. Hunkey would live with the Chinamen; you’d see him cut under a streetlamp with an opium pipe and a queue.” “What about me?” I said. “You’d be the son of the local newspaper publisher. Every now and then you’d go mad and ride with the wildbuck gang for kicks. Allen Ginsberg---he’d be a scissors sharpener coming down from the mountain once a year with his wagon and he’d be predicting fires and fellows in from the border would make him dance with hotfoot bullets. Joan Adams…she’d live in the shuttered house, she’d be the only real lady in town but nobody’d ever see her.” We went on and on, scouring our rogues’ gallery. In later years Allen would come down from the mountain bearded and wouldn’t have scissors any more, just songs of catastrophe; and Burroughs would no longer come out of his house once a year; and Louanne would shoot old Neal as he staggered drunk from his shack; and Al Hinkle would outlive us all telling stories to youngsters in front of the Silver Dollar. Hunkey would be found dead one cold winter morning in an alley. Louanne would inherit the dance hall and become a madame and a power in the town. I would disappear to Montana never to be heard from again. At the last minute we threw in Lucien Carr---he would disappear from Pecos City and come back years later darkened by African suns with an African Queen for a wife and ten black children and a fortune in gold. Bill Burroughs would go mad one day and start shooting at the whole town from his window; they’d set the torch to his old house and everything would burn and Pecos City would be a charred ruins and ghost town in the orange rocks.