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One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road Hardcover – November 22, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Most novelists draw from the material of their own lives, few more directly than Jack Kerouac. Now one of his iconic but long-lost characters steps from the covers of On the Road to speak for herself, to present her perspective as a young woman in the late 1940s who knew intimately some of the finest and most controversial writers of her generation. Lu Anne Henderson's own story is the core of One and Only, providing an unflinching examination of the motivations, fears, limitations, and achievements of a young woman who challenged the limitations for women in male-dominated mid-century America. Gerald Nicosia presents a living, breathing human being whose life did not end with the closing pages of Kerouac's novel.”
—Matt Theado, Chair, English Department, Gardner-Webb University, and author of Understanding Jack Kerouac.

"The transcription of the tapes that we listened to is now a book. Gerry Nicosia put it together and Anne Marie Santos also wrote a little bit in the end. It’s called One and Only and it is so important. … the book is absolutely amazing."—Kristen Stewart on Gerry Nicosia and One and Only

"Celebrated author and Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia is the white knight of Beat scholarship, rescuing another damsel from the distress of obscurity, marginalization and an undeserved bad reputation. In his new book he illuminates the life and central importance of Lu Anne Henderson, Mary Lou of On the Road, Neal Cassady’s first wife, who largely narrates the book; Nicosia’s encyclopedic knowledge and rigorous documentation have enabled him to present what was just a box of cassette tapes as a riveting narrative with much of the drive and most of the action of On the Road, only with actual names and events."
—Evergreen Review

"One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road brings together a set of interviews conducted by the Bay Area writer Gerald Nicosia with Lu Anne over a period of years before her death in 2008. Her oral history of the early Beats is interlaced with reflections on the major players of the age (Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, most notably), together with further reflections by Lu Anne's daughter; Anne Marie Santos. It provides the Beat aficionado with new information about the private lives of well-known personae."
San Francisco Chronicle

"I think it’s a beautifully conceived, edited, and written book, and I’m convinced it is the most important addition to Beat scholarship since Nicosia’s Memory Babe."
—The Beatnik

"In many ways, it is more sobering than most volumes on Beat history. One telling incident is hopelessness concealed in the question Neal asked Lu Anne, when he finally went quiet and quit acting, “Where do we go from here, Babe?”"

“By the time I reached the last page of her account [Anne Marie’s concluding chapter] I was in such a state of heightened emotion I cried. My feelings about One and Only”should be clear by now, after the long weeks we’ve shared together dissecting it. I think it’s a beautifully conceived, edited, and written book, and for the reasons I’ve already outlined, I’m convinced it is the most important addition to Beat scholarship since Nicosia’s Memory Babe."
Wholly Communion Blogspot

"Gerald Nicosia -- preeminent biographer of the Beat Generation and author of Memory Babe -- and Anne Marie Santos -- daughter of LuAnne Henderson -- have joined forces here to tell the back story of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. The result of this rare collaboration is a mesmerizing read. Even if you know nothing about the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac, his friend Neal Cassaday or their friends, this book will draw you in and keep you hooked. Using interviews with LuAnne Henderson and quotes from Beat icons in Kerouac's, Cassaday's and Henderson's inner circle of fellow travelers, the authors give readers a fascinating literary treat."
Midwest Book Review

"A revealing portrait...A welcome addition to the growing literature on the women of the Beat Generation. With a generous selection of black-and-white photographs."
Library Journal

"Nicosia makes a compelling case for Henderson’s unique perspective on and understanding of Kerouac and Cassady, poster boys for the Beat generation. ... A real find for Beat aficionados, adding verve to a cherished moment in American history and the novel that came to define it."
Kirkus Reviews

"If it hadn't been for a nubile teenager named Lu Anne Henderson, Jack Kerouac never would have hooked up with the legendary Neal Cassady, and never would have written On the Road, the defining novel of the Beat Generation, one of the most influential books of the 10th century.
Marin Independent Journal

"Other books on the beats have shown slight glimpses of Lu Anne Henderson, the 'one true love' of Jack Kerouac’s sidekick Neal Cassady, but none does it as candidly as this new insider account of the creative forces of the movement that rocked America in the late 1950s. ... This bold, confidential look presents Henderson as a sturdy survivor in the bohemian movement, which evaporated swiftly but whose influence persists."
Publishers Weekly

"This is the missing back-story of the back-story of On the Road, the mysterious missing woman a lot of us sensed was there but invisible and silent. Until now. Nicosia has given her voice and made her visible, and she's extraordinary. No wonder both Kerouac and Cassady loved her."
—Russell Banks, author of Cloudsplitter

"One and Only is essential reading for anyone wishing to get the full picture of the Beat Generation. Lu Anne Henderson was Neal Cassady's life-long love and was responsible for the friendship with Kerouac that gave us On The Road. Gerald Nicosia was always a loyal advocate of the women of the Beat Generation, and his remarkable interview with Lu Anne fills in an enormous gap in the story. It shows the vulnerability and insecurities of the main characters, and reveals the chaos of their emotional lives so that Kerouac and company finally emerge as real people! A great book."
—Barry Miles, author of Ginsberg: A Biography; Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats; and the forthcoming authorized biography of William S. Burroughs, Call Me Burroughs

"The passion and knowledge Gerald Nicosia shared through Memory Babe has influenced so many people to appreciate Kerouac and his work; I've read all the Kerouac biographies, and Memory Babe is clearly the best."
—Walter Salles, director of On the Road

One and Only is an ongoing chapter in the riveting Beat saga, chronicling another life and its poignant hopes and fears. An unsung teen-heroine of the time, Lu Anne Henderson, the young woman on whom the character ‘Marylou’ in On the Road is based, finally has her say. The book is an intimate and revealing portrait in the annals of American belletristic and real life memory.”
—Anne Waldman, author of In the Room of Never Grieve, Iovis and Beats at Naropa, and co-founder of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa University

“I read One and Only straight through and loved it, and loved the energy that was put into it. Lu Anne, much ignored by most of the biographers except Nicosia, finally comes across as a vital part of the Beat Generation. His new book is an informative and moving portrait of a girl who was really a lady, and lets us see once again how strong was the influence of womanhood on the major Beats, both negative and positive. One and Only is must reading and fills in many gaps. It will become an essential part of the Beat canon.”
—Jerry Kamstra, original Beat poet, author of The Frisco Kid and Weed: Adventures of a Dope Smuggler

One and Only is an essential addition and corrective to the masculine locus of Beat Generation history. Lu Anne Henderson was a witness and participant in the legendary road trips and saw Neal Cassady, Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs in a clear-headed light. Nicosia's reclamation of her centrality to that experience is revelatory. Her testimony captures the complicated involvement with these men with clarity, compassion, and wise humor. This book is a necessary revelation of the female experience in postwar U.S., not to mention the incredible story and insights into the times covered by On the Road and also those after.”
—David Meltzer, original Beat poet, author of San Francisco Beats: Talking with the Poets; Beat Thing; and David’s Copy

“What a great and important find: Lu Anne Henderson, aka Marylou of On The Road. Neglected by most of the scholarship, she put Jack and Neal together, is at the core of the movement that changed history, both literary and cultural history. But only Eastern establishment scholars and male-identified fans could be stunned by her. For Westerners, childhood was full of such women—the mothers we grew from. Henderson’s authenticity is no surprise—is relief, joy and truth. We owe thanks to Gerald Nicosia for the interestingly-crafted One and Only, a sweet book and a delightful, beautiful story that can never again be ignored.”
—Sharon Doubiago, author of Hard Country, The Book of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes, and Love on the Streets

“The voice of Lu Anne Henderson rises up off the page in this tender yet psychologically acute memoir, transcribed by Gerald Nicosia from tapes he made thirty years ago. Henderson played a crucial, inspirational part in the lives of Cassady and Kerouac, and the true circumstances of their complex relationship are revealed here for the first time. One and Only also shows the poverty and chaos and sometimes the sheer scariness of the lives of the Beats. Above all, the book shows the vulnerability and lack of self-esteem, the confusion and jealousy, which lay behind Cassady and Kerouac’s machismo. Henderson’s crucial insight is that Cassady and Kerouac, despite their profound friendship, were ‘totally unaware of the other one’s real feelings,’ a situation which only got worse when they became cultural icons. This new book by Nicosia is an invaluable contribution to Beat history.”
—Ian MacFadyen, British Beat scholar and editor of Naked Lunch at 50: Anniversary Essays

“Gerald Nicosia is surely the preeminent historian of the Beat Generation, and One and Only adds new and brightly colored pieces to his vast mosaic.”
—Aram Saroyan, author of Last Rites, Genesis Angels, and Starting Out in the Sixties

“Gerald Nicosia has done it again! He just keeps filling in the pieces of the Beat era for us. One and Only fleshes out the beginnings of On the Road and makes it fuller and more interesting. Lu Anne was certainly a force to be reckoned with. Her lust for life and fullness of being and generosity of spirit show through only too clearly. Her vital North Beach career, her mothering ability, her recovery from heroin addiction, her many marriages, her long clandestine affair with Neal, and her own longevity speak well for her love affair with life as well as with Neal. And her demand for a ‘broad margin to her life,’ showing she had ‘as much right to go through every open door as a man had,’ will strike many women as apt in their own lives. By the 60’s, a number of us followed her. I read One and Only from cover to cover in one day, and Lu Anne’s presence hovers with me still.”
—Joanna McClure, author of Hard Edge, Wolf Eyes and Extended Love Poem

“Gerald Nicosia does such an excellent and thorough job of documenting the ‘Beat Family.’”
—Joanne Kyger, original Beat poet, author of The Japan and India Journals and About Now: Collected Poems

“Gerald Nicosia performs a fascinating feat of balance with One and Only. While preserving his admiration for Jack Kerouac’s writing, he explores—with the collaboration of Anne Marie Santos and the preserved words of Lu Anne Henderson—the faults of character which contribute to an ambiguous cult status for Jack Kerouac and his beau ideal, Neal Cassady. The book is a most valuable addition to Kerouaciana and the legend of Neal Cassady. It also gives Lu Anne a place she deserves, and has not gotten from others.”
—Herbert Gold, author of Fathers and Still Alive

“I always sensed Lu Anne was Neal’s real sweetheart. He always had a special look on his face when he mouthed her name. Having been an intimate of major players in

From the Back Cover

The Never-Before-Told Story of the Girl Who Went On the Road with Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady

Lu Anne Henderson was a beautiful 15-year-old girl in Denver in 1946 when she met Neal Cassady, fast-talking hurricane of male sexuality and vast promises. He told her he was going to enroll in Columbia to become a writer. He did marry her and took her to New York, but stole her uncle’s car to get there. Although Neal never made it into a classroom, they were soon hanging out with many would-be writers, including Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Lu Anne became the secret link between Kerouac and Cassady, helping to ignite the Beat Generation, and giving Kerouac material for one of the seminal novels of the twentieth century, On the Road.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Viva Editions; First Edition edition (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936740044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936740048
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When I read bio books, I am looking for the story behind the story. I found it in "One and Only: The Untold Story of `On the Road'. Kerouac scholar, Gerald Nicosia and Anne Marie Santos, daughter of Lu Anne Henderson, collaborate on this bio, based on transcriptions of tapes from interviews that Nicosia did with Lu Anne Henderson in 1978. Henderson was Neal Cassady's first wife and the inspiration for the Mary Lou character in Kerouac's novel, "On the Road". The book is beautifully written and based on scholarship.

Nicosia maintains that Lu Anne Henderson played a pivotal role in the development of the relationship between these two men, but that's never been well understood or accepted. In fact, it's been all but ignored or sexed up and romanticized by Hollywood (as in the movie, Heart Beat) and that's all we remember. The Beat girl friends, lovers, wives, and ex-wives, they all seemed like cardboard cut-out characters, easily interchangeable, forgettable, marginalized. Not this time.

"One and Only" looks deeper into the role that Lu Anne Henderson played as a connecting force between these two unlikely friends. She was non-judgmental, an empathic woman who understood men and their needs. A man could be a mama's baby--Jack, or a horrible philanderer-- Neal, but Lu Anne didn't seem to hold it against them. She was in the middle, a trusted confidant, a touchstone for two very different men. And they loved and respected her for it. And she loved them back. And this was way before the sexual revolution.

Anne Marie Santos tells how her mother sheltered her daughter from all the tawdry Beat stuff. Lu Anne, by now a divorced single mother, managed the Pink Elephant, a jazz club on Broadway in San Francisco for many years.
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Format: Audio CD
This book IS an untold story. There are people arguing with that statement, because we have other viewpoints of the trip and the book and the people involved. Lu Anne's story, however, was untold up to this point, and it's nice to finally get to know her. This book does fill a gap in the ever-popular and crowded beat genre.

The interview material from which this book sprang has been well-edited. It still feels like real, spoken words but is easy to read (unlike most transcribed interviews).

The audio edition is truly wonderful. Due to being disabled the bulk of my reading is done through audio books, and I know just how many mediocre and truly dreadful readers there are. Vanessa Hart reads this SO wonderfully. She truly makes it sound like you're listening to her personal story. Stephen Bowlby also does a good job, but his job on this book was much easier and more standard, so it shines less brightly than Hart's work.
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Format: Hardcover
There have always been great women behind the important men of our collective literary existence. Lu Anne Henderson (Cassady) was the apocalyptic spark behind the rowdy duo of Jack Keroauc and Neal Cassady. According to ONE AND ONLY by Gerald Nicosia, a vital addition to the historical archives of Beat consciousness, Neal and Jack didn't get along with each other before Lu Anne connected them. Gerald Nicosia, one of our most important Beat chroniclers, here delves into places other researches have left untouched. ONE AND ONLY exposes the liveliness and magnetic charms of a beautiful soul who led a fascinating yet problematic life.

--author of When I Followed The Elephant
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading `On the Road' by Jack Kerouac I read everything I could find about the people involved in the so-called beat generation. I read biographies of Kerouac and Neal Cassady, autobiographies by Jack's daughter Jan Kerouac, Neal's wife Carolyn Cassady and Kerouac's wife Joan Haverty and many more. But I could never find anything about Lu Anne Henderson. Lu Anne was 16 when she married Neal Cassady and she was the third person in the car during the famous road trip in `On the Road'. So I was thrilled when I found out that Gerald Nicosia and Lu Anne's daughter, Anne Marie Santos, had written a book about Lu Anne.
I think the only reader who would get much of anything from this book is a reader like myself who has become familiar with the lives of all the other players and who is curious about Lu Anne's story. Most of the book is a transcript of an old tape of Lu Anne's version of the story of `On the Road' that was made by Nicosia many years ago when he was doing research for his biography of Kerouac. That part of the book is really just the same story of `On the Road' but told from Lu Anne's perspective. There's really very little there that we didn't already know and it's not told terribly well. That part of the book probably deserves two stars. The last two chapters of the book are told by Al Hinkle who was a good friend of Neal and Lu Anne and Lu Anne's daughter, Anne Marie Santos. I'm giving the book four stars because of those two chapters. Finally, in these last two chapters, we find out where Lu Anne has been all these years and how her life turned out. In my opinion Lu Anne lived a much more interesting, although difficult, life than either Jack Kerouac or Neal Cassady did.
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