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For anyone who read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road in their teenage years, it didn’t matter that it was written in 1951. It spoke to you. It represented freedom and adventure—maybe you even made that road trip to California. But for anyone who’s tried to re-read those enthralling moments later in life, you were probably shocked that you once found Kerouac so hero-worthy. The characters just seem irresponsible, the writing childish. To keep your youthful memories from being dashed, New York Times reporter John Leland has written Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They’re Not What You Think). Leland, focusing on the more sympathetic, though less charismatic, character Sal Paradise, walks us through the wisdom of Kerouac. Leland quotes Kerouac’s journals: “One of the greatest incentives of the writer is the long business of getting his teachings out and accepted.” Leland’s primer continues this business, helping Kerouac survive cynicism. Leland discusses and signs copies of his work at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 418 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 638-7610.