Tag Archives: Carolyn Cassady

10 Books of Beat Generation Letters

14 Jul

The other day I wrote about viewing Neal Cassady’s infamous “lost” Joan Anderson letter at Christie’s Auction House.. Letters are a great way to get to know and understand the writers of the Beat Generation. The novelists and poets were prodigious letter writers. Here are ten books of collected letters by the poets and writers of the Beat Generation.

1.

CassadyLetters

 Neal Cassady: Collected Letters, 1944-1967

2.

KerouacLetters

Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1940-1956

3.

Carolyn

Jack Kerouac’s Dear Carolyn: Letters to Carolyn Cassady

4.

KerouacGinsberg

Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters

5.

YageLetters

William S. Burroughs’ and Allen Ginsberg’s The Yage Letters Redux

6.

GinsbergSnyder

The Selected Letter of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder

7.

GinsbergDad

Allen Ginsberg and his father’s Family Business: Selected Letters between a Father and Son

8.

HettieJonesLoveH

Love, H: The Letters of Helene Dorn and Hettie Jones

9.

DistantNeighbors

Distant Neighbors: The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder

10.

CorsoBiography

An Accident Autobiography: The Selected Letters of Gregory Corso

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Happy 88th Birthday, Neal Cassady!

8 Feb

firstthird

Neal Leon Cassady was born on this day in 1926 in Salt Lake City, Utah. His mother, Maude Jean (Scheuer), passed away when he was just ten years old, and his father, Neal Marshall Cassady, went on to raise him on the mean streets of skid row in Denver, Colorado. With an alcoholic father, Cassady soon turned to a life of crime, and was arrested when he was only fourteen years old. At nineteen years old, and fresh out of prison, Cassady married a vivacious fifteen year old by the name of LuAnne Henderson. Together they set out for New York City in 1947 to meet up with a Denver friend who had gone on to study at Columbia. It was through Hal Chase that Cassady met two other young guys who studied at Columbia: Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. His life would forever change.

Returning to Denver, Cassady met Carolyn Robinson, a young teaching assistant at the theater arts department of the Denver Art Museum, whom he married, after divorcing LuAnne. By 1950 he was in a bigamous relationship with Diane Hansen. Cassady’s romances, command of a steering wheel, and zeal for life inspired Kerouac’s writing, and he became Dean Moriarty in On the Road and the title character of Visions of Cody.

What is sometimes overlooked, though, and which I want to celebrate on his birthday is Cassady’s own writing. It was Cassady’s great “Joan Anderson letter” that took Kerouac’s writing to the next level, inspiring him to become more confessional and spontaneous. Although he died in 1968, Cassady also left us with his own memoir, The First Third. Here’s how it’s described on Barnes & Noble:

Immortalized as Dean Moriarty by Jack Kerouac in his epic novel, On the Road, Neal Cassady was infamous for his unstoppable energy and his overwhelming charm, his savvy hustle and his devil-may-care attitude. A treasured friend and traveling companion of Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Ken Kesey, to name just some of his cohorts on the beatnik path, Cassady lived life to the fullest, ready for inspiration at any turn.

Before he died in Mexico in 1968, just four days shy of his forty-second birthday, Cassady had written the jacket blurb for this book: “Seldom has there been a story of a man so balled up. No doubt many readers will not believe the veracity of the author, but I assure these doubting Thomases that every incident, as such, is true.”

As Ferlingetti writes in his editor’s note, Cassady was “an early prototype of the urban cowboy who a hundred years ago might have been an outlaw on the range.” Here are his autobiographical writings, the rambling American saga of a truly free individual.

For a critical analysis on the “facts” of The First Third, check out David Sandison and Graham Vickers’ Neal Cassady.

While the salacious details of his personal biography are important perhaps to understanding where he came from and his perspective on life, they should not be confused for the totality of who he is and what he offered the world. Contrary to his wild persona, his prose is tame. He methodically plots out his lineage, trying his best to adhere to some intangible idea of what it means to sound literary. Yet it’s also raw. Cassady refuses to conform to the standard rules of grammar, instead allowing his words to gush over the page.

In honor of Cassady’s birthday, read some of his work! It’s the best way to understand the man behind the myth.

What do you think of Neal Cassady’s writing style? Do you have a favorite biography about Cassady?

Remembering Neal Cassady

4 Feb

“I recently heard a quote in a play, the source I forget: ‘A man’s measure is not from the amount of love he gives to others but the amount he is loved.’ I have to think about that, but Neal was/is certainly loved.”

~ Carolyn Cassady

Just a few days shy of his forty-second birthday, Neal Cassady passed away. On February 3, 1968, he left a wedding party in Mexico, where he’d taken a barbiturate known for its hypnotic effects, and began walking along the railroad tracks in San Miguel to reach the next town. Somewhere along the way, he passed out. He was found in a coma the next morning. He was taken to a hospital, but died a few hours later. The autopsy report read: “general congestion in all systems.” He was apparently cremated.

Popular imagination most readily remembers Neal Cassady as a muse, a character in novels, the man behind the wheel of the bus Further in grainy film footage. Check him out in these “Beat” novels:

  • Dean Moriarty in On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Dean in Jazz of the Beat Generation by Jack Kerouac
  • Cody Pomeray in Visions of Cody by Jack Kerouac
  • Cody Pomeray in Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac
  • Cody Pomeray in Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac
  • Cody Pomeray in Book of Sketches by Jack Kerouac
  • Neal Pomeray in Neal and the Three Stooges by Jack Kerouac
  • Leroy in The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac
  • Hart Kennedy in Go by John Clellon Holmes

Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson, and The Grateful Dead also wrote about their experiences with Cassady.

Contest: Show Us Your Burning Furiously Beautiful

21 Nov

Show us YOUR copy of Burning Furiously Beautiful for a chance to win Jack Kerouac memorabilia.

Paul is giving away his own personal copy of an audio cassette that Carolyn Cassady made for him, labeled with her handwriting (with also the mailer too, which bears her signature), of Jack and Neal Cassady reading into a tape recorder. It’s one-of-a-kind and can be yours.
Rules: Just buy yourself a copy and find a cool as Miles Davis place to take a picture of it or of you holding it and post it on the official Burning Furiously Beautiful Facebook page and then find everyone you know to LIKE it. Only “likes” on the Facebook page — not if you post the pic here or elsewhere on Facebook — will be counted. The entry with the most “likes” by November 28, 2013, will win

How to purchase:

We’ve already received some really creative entries, which I’m excited to share with you! Even if you’re not interested in entering the contest, you can cast your vote for your favorite photo.

Contest1Richard Marsh

Contest2Kate Levin

Contest3Roxanne Leinhauser-Brennan

Contest4Katie Ingegneri

Contest5Anne-Marie Giroux

Contest6Ben Stables

Vote or enter here!

Friday Links: Breathe In, Breathe Out

8 Nov

Oh, what a week, what a week. It seems like so many people I know are going through difficult times right now, myself included. I think this weekend we could all use a little nurturing. Here are a couple links to take you into what is hopefully a restful and enjoyable weekend:

Iconoclastic Writer penned a post entitled “Memory Babe: a writing exercise inspired by Jack Kerouac.” It’s an old post, but I think being in tune with our senses and learning to write resonate detail can be meditative

Sometimes just looking at beautiful, far-off lands makes me feel like I can breathe a little more

In an effort to drink less coffee (and ahem stronger drinks) and more tea, I bought a delicious champagne rose tea from Mitsua in New Jersey a few weeks ago

I’m also excited to try the new Teavana that opened up on the Upper East Side — it’s one of Oprah’s favorite things!

My doctor recommended this Upper East Side restaurant to me

I’ve been missing my mom a lot lately, which has made me crave macaroni & cheese, both a comfort food and one of her specialties. I might have to check out one of these places

I’ve been embracing my homebody side these days and reading and rereading the interior decorating magazine Domino — I’m so glad they’re back!

I like to light a candle when I write, and I see that Bath & Bodyworks — my favorite place to buy candles — is having their candle sale

Paul and I are holding a contest where you could win a one-of-a-kind tape that Carolyn Cassady personally gave to Paul. You can find the details and enter (or just vote for your favorite) on the Facebook page for Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”

 

 

“Burning Furiously Beautiful” eBook Now Available!

30 Sep

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Happy Monday! I have BIG news to share today. Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an eBook! You can get it for $8.99 at Lulu.

Here’s a bit about the book from Lulu:

Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is the most up-to-date and accurate account of the development of American writer Jack Kerouac’s groundbreaking 1957 novel, On the Road. Using archival resources as the foundation of this book, Kerouac scholars Paul Maher Jr. and Stephanie Nikolopoulos have fashioned a gripping account of the internal and external experiences of Kerouac’s literary development.

And here’s our synopsis:

Fueled by coffee and pea soup, Jack Kerouac speed-typed On the Road in just three weeks in April 1951. He’d been traveling America for the past ten years and now, at last, the furious energy of his experiences flowed through his fingertips in a mad rush, pealing forth on a makeshift scroll that he laboriously taped together. The On the Road scroll has since become literary legend, and now Burning Furiously Beautiful sets the record straight, uncovering, among other things, the true story behind one of America’s greatest novels. Burning Furiously Beautiful explores the real lives of the key characters of the novel—Sal Paradise, Dean Moriarty, Carlo Marx, Old Bull Hubbard, Camille, Marylou, and others. Ride along on the real-life adventures through 1940s America that inspired On the Road. By tracing the evolution of Kerouac’s literary development and revealing his startlingly original writing style, this book explains how it took years—not weeks—to ultimately write the seemingly sporadic 1957 novel, On the Road. This revised and expanded edition of Jack Kerouac’s American Journey (2007) takes a closer look at the rise of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation.

The ebook can be read in the following formats: Windows, PC/PocketPC, Mac OS, Linux OS, Nook, Apple iPhone/iPod/iPad, Android, Kindle (Amazon), Sony Reader, Blackberry Devices, Palm OS PDAs, Cybook Opus, Bebook (Endless Ideas), Papyrus (Samsung) Jetbook (Ectaco), Windows Mobile OS PDAs.

A print book is forthcoming.