On The Road

Tyler Mcmahon
Author, Assistant Professor of English at Hawaii Pacific University

What is your official title/occupation?

By day, I’m a mild-mannered assistant professor of English at Hawaii Pacific University. By night, I write fiction. My first novel came out about a year and a half ago and is called How the Mistakes Were Made.


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Tyler Mcmahon

Where and with whom did you see the movie? Kahala Consolidated Theater with my wife, Dabney Gough.

Overall, what did you think? I read this novel a dozen times or more in my late teens and early 20s, and I was prepared to be disappointed by the film. All in all, I thought it was good. It captured the spirit of the book without sticking too closely to the events and whatnot. It was one particular reading, which is probably the best approach.

Without giving away the ending, what was one of your favorite scenes? The scenes in the jazz clubs were all really great. I also liked Sal Paradise’s (Sam Riley) time in the work camp, picking cotton with the migrant workers. The Mexico trip was another favorite.

On a scale of one to four stars, what would you rate this film? I’d give it a ★★★ or a ★★★★.

What did you think of the cinematography? Visually, the movie was awesome. The old cars, the snowy roads, the Western landscapes – that was the best part.

Was the message/theme clear? In this movie, they really seemed to get into the dark side of Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) – something I don’t remember being so heavy-handed in the book. By the end, it almost seemed a cautionary tale; Dean was undone by his own irresponsibility. I don’t remember that from the book, but it sort of worked.

Did it remind you of any other work in film? Yes, it reminded me of My Own Private Idaho, set back in time 50 years.

To whom would you recommend this movie? To people who’ve read the book and liked it, but not people who haven’t read the book – most definitely not people who still love the book.

Did any of the actors stand out?

The two leads – Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty – were both played by young actors I’d never seen before.

They both did great work and stole the show from the Hollywood types.

Did you identify with any of the characters? Sal Paradise is pretty sympathetic. The Dean Moriarty in this version comes off as a bit of a jerk (or maybe he always was and I’m just older now).

Did the soundtrack contribute significantly to the film? All the music was great. There were a lot of scenes that captured the excitement of live jazz from that era (mostly late ’40s).

Would you buy this movie when it comes out on DVD? Probably not. It’s not one I can imagine watching over and over again.

What’s your favorite movie snack?

Popcorn! At home, my wife often makes it with bacon fat and Old Bay seasoning. At the theater, I’ll settle for butter and salt.

On a different note, what’s new with you? My second novel has just been accepted for publication. It’s about some expat surfers stuck in El Salvador after a series of devastating earthquakes struck that country in 2001. The tentative title is Missing the Point. You can actually read an excerpt in an anthology called Jack London is Dead, which is newly released from Tinfish Press.