On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
I was sixteen when I read On the Road. My reading palate up until then was typical prescribed classroom reading assignments. I remember being so genuinely engaged; I felt as if I was at a higher plateau - it was unlike anything I read before. Even though I had no life experiences beyond my immediate small town surroundings, I felt that I could relate to the atmospheric-journey-drama that Kerouac told. It was the snap, crackle and pop I needed in my life.
I was also listening to a lot of jazz during that time and that helped me set the backdrop for the book. On the Road, like jazz, is a spontaneous, emotionally raw journey that swings hard and fast; like life should.
It was the right book at the right time for me and I was dangerously impressionable at sixteen. I guess you could say that I was pretty much under a heavy influence of jazz and Kerouac during high school. Everything that was going on around me seemed comical and trivial.
On the Road was my gateway to the other Beat books. Beat is where it’s at. Dig?
…and so it lingers…