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Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg Paperback – August 1, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Third Impression edition (August 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014015390X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140153903
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,199,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Infidelity, drugs, road trips and encounters with legendary Beats characterized the author's 15-year marriage to Neal Cassady, during which she had an affair with Jack Kerouac and shared Neal with Allen Ginsberg. "To the familiar history of the Beat generation, Carolyn Cassady adds a proprietary chapter marked with newness, self-exposure, love and poignancy," said PW. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Neal Cassady has been the subject of several novels, poems, and songs, but he is probably still best known as Dean Moriarty in Kerouac's On the Road . This biography is an expanded, more detailed, far superior version of Carolyn Cassady's Heart Beat ( LJ 9/15/76), the memoir that served as the basis for John Byrum's 1980 film of the same name. Cassady is more expansive here. She describes the complex, intense relationships that developed between her husband, Kerouac, and Ginsberg, and she analyzes their effects on her marriage. Her writing is sincere and engaging, full of pain and struggle but also love. Highly recommended.
- William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Happ on February 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book,written by Carolyn Cassady, wife of famed beat rebel Neal Cassady, offers us a glimpse of the real life and times of the beat poets. The book begins with the tale of how Neal and Carolyn met and ends with his untimely death in Mexico.
Carolyn recounts her twenty-some years of the tumultuos relationship with Neal and his contemporaries which include, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Ken Kesey, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, et al. Besides serving as a time-line for the beat generation you will also find a plethora of letters and writings that give a true feel of the period.
After reading this book I came away with a much better insight to the fictional works of Kerouac. In fact the book is as much about Kerouac as it is Cassady.
This work gives an in-depth "taste" of the beat period from New York to San Francisco and it's eventual metamorphosis in the sixties.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By adead_poet@hotmail.com on March 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
As great as the Beat fiction is, and life-changing as On the Road is, we get too caught up with the fictitive personas of the Beats. It's nice to see the side of Kerouac, Cassady, and Ginsberg that didn't make it into the novels. I'm sure Carolyn's viewpoint is skewed a little, but so is what we read in On the Road. Between her work and their work we can get a picture of what they were like, not as legends, but as men.
There are times when Carolyn bogs down with too much detail, or too much whining, or patches that just aren't great writing, but all in all it is a good biography, autobiography, and novel.
If you want to know more, here is a good place to start, along with these books, though you probably have read them by now: Kerouac's On the Road and The Dharma Bums; Cassady's The First Third; Perry and Babb's On the Bus; Ginsberg's Howl
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By K. G. Matt on October 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
A recent appetite for any and all written about Beat Generation(Kerouac, Ginsberg, et al), Ken Kesey and Merry Pranksters led me "Off The Road" while browsing at my local library. I found this book insightful and entertaining and yet knew the downside as Neal's life speeds Furthur and Furthur out of control. I was happy to read of NC's unending love for his three offspring and his true devotion to his friends, even though that comradeship was the foundation for his doomed relationship with Carolyn. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a feel for the late 50's and early 60's that altered many lives and lifestyles.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is all right, I must say that I enjoy the fact that Carolyn owns up to her own faults, such as her jealousy and such. I think that it is easy to judge her from 50 years down the line because so much has changed socially. She fell in love with Cassady at a time where women didn't just get up and leave their men if they were cheated on. Divorce was not as common as it is now. The women of the beat generation lived life on the edge of suburbanism. Most of them found themselves in the unusual and yet somehow liberating situation of being the primary breadwinner. I found Carolyn Cassady's biography to be an interesting account of an intelligent and talented woman who walked the line between her own more old fashioned sense of morality and the life Neal Cassady introduced her to. She mostly seemed to want his friends to go away. I think that he still would have been as wild if they did go away, he would have just found new friends. I don't blame her bitter attitude toward a lot of his friends though. It is a frustrating experience when someone's friends see only the party side of them and don't see what it does to the person's family.
Carolyn did, unfortunately, hang tight for a while to her belief that she could hold onto her husband. Hard to say if her version of their relationship is accurate or not. I do believe her account of what happened, but I also believe that he was a smooth talking guy who probably had similar conversations with his other two wives as well as all those other women. This obviously has to be a biased book, it involves the woman's marriage, I should not expect her to be able to look at things too objectively.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 1997
Format: Paperback
A welcome slip through a portal into an age overshadowed by the sixties and into the lives of those who were unkowingly shaping an entire genre of literature. Carolyn's account reads honestly while balanced perfectly with letter excerpts to and from Neal, Jack and Allen. No other biography allows the reader into the lives of these characters so seamlessly, making for the most enjoyable peephole into the lives of the
individuals' who were later to become known collectively as the Beat Generation. (If you saw the movie, fret not, the book is leaps and bounds better!)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
I thought this was a really great book. I had read part of Kerouac's On the Road a couple times but hadn't gotten all the way through it. By chance I saw this book and decided to read it. It tells the story from a different side, a more rational and real side than in On the Road. It makes you realize that these people who were Beat heros were really just sad, real people who died young. Carolyn Cassady is a great storyteller. I highly recommend this book.
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