Tag Archives: Ken Kesey

Happy 77th Birthday, Hunter S. Thompson!

18 Jul

hunter

Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on this day in 1937. (Fun fact: the S. in his name stands for Stockton.) He’s known as the originator of “Gonzo” journalism — a type of journalism where the reporter gets so involved in the story, he ends up part of it! Oh, and he wrote a little book called Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. The film adaptation starred Johnny Depp. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Beat Connection::: Thompson shot to fame in the literary world in 1967 with Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang. Immersing himself with the Hell’s Angels for a year, Thompson wrote about the time Beat Generation icon Neal Cassady got into a verbal fight with police at a Hell’s Angel party at Ken Kesey’s pad in La Honda, California.

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.

Writing Wednesday: A Blurb Job

14 Dec

When Joan Williams asks William Faulkner to blurb her book, it takes an ugly turn.  In telling the story of their affair (a story also told by Lisa C. Hickman in William Faulkner and Joan Williams: The Romance of Two Writers), Glen David Gold makes a compelling argument for not sleeping with writers in “On Not Rolling the Log,” in The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Gold goes on to say:

How confusing it is to entangle acclaim and love. How much of a balancing act to determine your real value to another person. When you cultivate a literary friendship, it’s good to remember — and hard to prove — that it’s the work which is a commodity, not you.

An editor was telling me recently that Ken Kesey asked Jack Kerouac to blurb one of his books and he refused.  He was very protective of his name, his brand.

Some writers whore out their name.  Others keep it under lock and key.  The book business is a small and incestuous one, and a blurb from the right author can propel sales.  But at what cost?