Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I re-read On the Road recently and - unlike the author of this (very good) article in yesterday's Observer, found it more thrilling than the first reading in my teens.

I hadn't even been anywhere much in my teens except suburban greater London, Belgium and family holidays to Greece, so it's not surprising I loved the book more the second time around. It's by no means perfect but I still felt the crackling, magnetic energy.

As I read it again I couldn't help wondering why a film hadn't been made of it. It could really be dangerous territory in the wrong hands, but with the right minds it could be amazing. Could no one do it justice? Almost instantly my prayers were answered:
Fifty years on, the book is being turned into a Hollywood film, scripted by Roman Coppola, son of Francis Ford, and directed by Walter Salles who made The Motorcyle Diaries, the story of Che Guevara's road trip across South America. Kirsten Dunst will star as Carolyn Cassady.
Speaking of whom: Women of the Beat Generation and Girls Who Wore Black.
Easy to forget with such strong male figures like Neal Cassady that the women were on the road too, not left at home in the kitchen.

Neal/Dean was clearly a bit nuts and not a man you'd ever want your daughter to get involved with; while Jack/Sal being the more sensitive type was a much better bet. And yet, and yet...I realised with a slight feeling of unease, that in the imaginary world where I inhabit the book, Neal/Dean would have been able to get me in 7581 kinds of trouble and Jack/Sal would have been the sweet platonic friend. So I guess it's a good thing I wasn't there but, sigh, you know, that's a disturbing revelation to have.


*EDIT* Francis Ford Coppola has owned the film rights to On the Road since 1968. He will executive produce and the book is being adapted by Jose Riviera and Walter Salles, not Roman who had written a previous screenplay of it. Billy Crudup will play either Sal or Dean and *shudder* the name Colin Farrell has been whispered. No, please, no!


Anonymous said...

It's with a sense of great shame that I admit never having... read... that book... *blush*
Maybe I should do it before the film is released, so I won't have to pretend "Of course I read it, but it was such a long time ago..."

Anonymous said...

Love this post. Well now I am going to have to re-read it.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, just reading that book got me into all kinds of trouble-- let alone what might have happened if I had actually lived among the characters.

I really shun a film version that stars Kirsten Dunce-st; she lacks complexity, a quality Carolyn Cassady certainly had in spades.

Ya gotta read Dharma Bums next. It's got that same Roman Candle quality! XO, LC


Lola is Beauty said...

I'm hopeful, it could have been so much worse, say, made into a cheesy blockbuster - shudder! Walter Salles directing - phew..I loved The Motorcycle Diaries. Roman Coppola has never really been acknowledged for the talent (I think) he has. But yeah, Kirsten, I know what you mean - she may have been cast for her blonde hair and because she already has the Wayfarers. It could still go either way...desperate to know who will play Neal? Will read Dharma Bums...

Iheartfashion said...

I nominate Christian Bale for Neal.
And I felt the same way as you when I read OTR as a teen...I would've been with Neal, just friends with Sal, definitely.