In enlisting On the Road to support a liberal history of the 1950s, academics first ignore the narrative timeframe of the novel and capriciously place On the Road in its “context” that is the “Nightmare Decade” of the 1950s (title of Fred Cook’s book on Senator Joseph McCarthy). Second, they find somebody else to quote. To demonstrate that On the Road is contemptuous of American culture, Professor Michael Hrebeniak, in his 2006 Action Writings: Jack Kerouac’s Wild Form, fills a half dozen pages quoting Sigmund Freud, Marxist Norman O. Brown, leftist poet Robert Duncan, and Normal Mailer, but not a probative word from On the Road.16
Hard to believe that doofuses like me saw On the Road as a paean to America. But then doofuses like me had a great time during those awful '50s.