An English Lit degree won’t necessarily get you a high pressure job out of university, but it will get you into high pressure conversations over turkey dinner.
Over Christmas this past year my mom’s best friend asked if I had ever read Jack Kerouac. Shocked that my answer was no, she told me I had to read On The Road. I added it to my list but, to be honest, without any particular priority. It sounded like a very course syllabus-y selection that I had somehow dodged throughout years of literature lectures, and shouldn’t waste my post-graduate freedom reading.
Now, I wouldn’t consider myself an innately competitive person, but when I come across those “how many of these classic novels have you read?” posts on my Facebook feed it’s a whole other story. A few months after Christmas I was (all too proudly) filling out one of such questionnaires when On The Road came up. It bugged me that I couldn’t check it off, conceding a point to CBC in what was clearly a me vs. them competition. It moved up a few spots on my to-read list.
A few weeks ago I was on my way to Pulp Fiction Books to pick up some summer reading material, when Paul Simon’s A Simple Desultory Philippic came on my shuffled iPhone playlist. Sure enough it dawned on me where I had first heard Kerouac’s name (I was Union Jack’d/Kerouac’d/John Birch’d/Stopped and searched..) and if there’s ever a sign I’m going to take seriously it’s one that comes from Paul Simon.
The girl working at PF didn’t exactly boost my confidence in the syllabus standard (“I didn’t like it at all…. but my best friend did..?”) but I figured my own literary pride was worth the $9.95.
And, in the end, it was. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it relatable (Sal’s journey of finding himself was nothing like Mindy Kaling‘s), it still struck a chord here and there. More so than anything it further aggravated the travel itch that’s been tickling me for the last few months. In fact every time Sal and/or Dean hopped in a car and drove across America, I became more inspired to hop on an airplane and transplant my own life.
My flight to Calgary for the Stampede this weekend didn’t quite satisfy my travel bug, but I guess it will do for now.