The title is as brilliantly simple as it is self-evident; Kerouac's alter ego main character relates his hitch-hikes across 1940s America, including an incursion into Mexico.
For all its Beatnik bravado, this iconic road-novel feels deeply patriotic; Kerouac's love for his country and its people pervades the whole book (like "air you can kiss").
It is also a tale about friendship - a bromance, if you will - in its both clear-sighted and heartbreaking portrait of the narrator's confused friend Dean, who no doubt would today have been diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder, and who blends in with the country, implicitly throughout the book and explicitly in the final, dazzling, paragraph.
Just like 'The Catcher in the Rye' and 'The Bell Jar', this narrative is emblematic of a the generation who grew into adults in postwar America.
All three novels share the same idiosyncratic charm, making them virtually impossible to resist.