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All the Roads Lead to On the Road

01/06/2013

All the Roads Lead to On the Road

I had a close childhood friend who once said he never reads books twice because life is too short. I couldn’t understand him. I read each of the books I loved dozens of times. Going back to a good book is like going back to a close friend. Life is too short not to go back to close friends. I’m reading a few books in parallel these days. Trying to catch up, to program my brain to think writing. A travel journal, a collection of excellent stories about lousy writers, a strange story by Mark Twain, English poems by Rudyard Kipling, one of the greatest rhymers to have ever lived, Hebrew poems by Nathan Alterman, one of the greatest rhymers to have ever lived. Tonight I want to leave everything, to stop this petty catching up, to pack an old bag, well worn out, get into bed and open Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”. I’ve read On the Road several times. I collected it in a book store despite the dubious cover and thought it was my own private discovery. Later it turned out it was the own private discovery of millions of others. Then I found people who like to travel our country just like I do and who like On the Road as well. Life is short, who but Jack Kerouac knows life is short, too short not to open On the Road again. It sits on the shelf ready to be picked up any moment to go on the journey that is well engraved in the mind of the reader who’s already read On the Road. The aunt with the money, the apartment with the girl, Mexico, Mexico, the car that must get to the other coast, the overflowing sentences, the philosopher friend, the carefree paragraphs, paragraphs that flow on the road without an end in sight. Why go on the journey again, the philosopher reader would ask. Why go on the journey if the journey is well documented in the mind of the traveler. Why do we need the open window, the wind in the hair, the food stops, the hitchhikers, the night stops, the getting lost, the getting lost in words, the descriptions, the superlatives, the repetitions, the shortcuts. Why go on the very same journey again. Isn’t life too short to stop the travelling and sit by the road just to read the book you have already read several times. He will ask this question while sitting in an old American car, window half open, the wind in his hair, observing the landscape with a half curious, half lazy eye, seeking in it new paterns, unexpected discoveries, small thrills, big thrils, something familiar, something to hold on to, some sort of an old feeling, some sort of sincere intimacy, an outline of a house, a home, an appealing human face, something to connect between the enthusing and alienated landscape outside and the old familiar landscape within.

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