22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2011
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. During that time, Lu Anne made a life for her daughter, but never cut Neal Cassady off. Al Hinkle handled their meet ups in New York or wherever. Anne Marie tells the story of the time Neal Cassady came to their house in Daly City. She had no idea of who this guy was, some old friend of her mother's, that's all. As manager of a jazz club, her mother had a lot of strange friends,including Mayor George Moscone.
Now I can't wait to see the movie of "On the Road". I was worried that when the movie was finally made, they would ruin it! Thank goodness, this time Hollywood relied on good sound character research rather than the same tired old clichés. (Nicosia and Santos are pictured on the set of "On The Road" in the book so they were involved--hooray!) I am hopeful that Mary Lou (Lu Anne) will be portrayed for what she was --a woman of influence with a big heart who played a big role in the lives of these two iconic men and Beat history.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2012
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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2011
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
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Firstly, One and Only: The Untold Story of On The Road is built not on facts of Lu Ann Henderson's life, but mostly on the author's opinions about her and her situation. G.Nicosia, as I see, didn't carry out investigation. He published an interview with Lu Ann. He published his own views on her personality, and his experience with her during their touch - that's all the basis of the book. "One and Only" is not big deal actually. Its an interview of Lu Ann, which maybe honest and maybe not, anyway Nicosia paints her as a saint, ideal woman almost without disadvantages with a tragic, difficult life, as the one who was passed and forgiven by anybody. The case is Nicosia was biased by Lu Ann, he didn't keep an objectivity and that is shown in the book, and it's a bit confusing. And after all, you don't see, you are not sure who Lu Ann really was, what kind of personality. Of course, you will learn something about her life, fate, but not about her character exactly.
And secondly, what is really annoying, boring - in the book there're moments where Nicosia just grists, is talking about nothing (maybe, to take some more pages, I don't know) For example:
(talking about that possible marriage of Lu Ann and Kerouac)
"For Jack, it would have meant marriage to a woman who truly loved him, and he would have been saved from the debacle of that impromptu marriage to Joan Haverty a year and a half later, born far more of his desperation to put his life in order than from any kind of real love or even respect between them. Jan Kerouac would never have been born, to live out her life with two uncaring parents, or maybe she would have been born in a different body - if you believe in reincarnation - to Jack and Lu Ann. But now we're in the realm of speculation..." and so on, such moments are a waste and they can't be published in
anything that is pretended to be a big documentary story.
What is really pleasant in this book - that is a lot of unseen photos of Lu Ann and of all the band. They would be interesting. Her interview is rather intersting and funny, too. And you would feel the Beat, but I think you would although feel the Beat in other books about Beat Generation, which is written more professional.
So, surely, I think there should be one more Lu Ann's biography full of real facts, something like Donald Spoto writes, something serious when anybody would say "I belive it's true, it's honest".
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
I was thrilled to read Nicosia's new work on this little-known aspect of Beat history. It's extremely difficult to yield anything new or vital about a subject as well-trodden at Kerouac/Cassady/On The Road/The Beats. Nicosia does it and more.
His excavations and insights reveal entirely brand-new ways of thinking about the origins of Beat and the skein of personal relations that were so integral to fortering what remains, arguably, the only authentic post-war avant garde literary movement. Also, his transcript of Luanne Henderson's account is nothing less than a work of art in its own right: senstivie, nuanced, genuine and moving. Bravo to Nicosia. I cannot recommend this book more highly.
Alan Kaufman, editor, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and co-editor (with Barney Rosset) of The Outlaw Bible of American Literature.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2011
One and Only is the essential, long-missing tale of the young woman who captured the hearts of Cassady and Kerouac when they first got on the road. Though the bulk of the book is an edited transcription of a seven-hour taped interview Henderson offered Nicosia, Nicosia does offer his unique insights into the psyches and emotions of the key players of the Beat Generation. It's a must-read for any Beat fan.
on January 19, 2015
I read "Kerouac: His Life and Work" recently and followed that with Carolyn Cassady's memoir "Off the Road." I wanted to learn more about LuAnne Henderson, "Marylou" in the book "On the Road." As far as I could tell, this book is the only one about her life. I read it on my Kindle so I know that the first 24% of the book is devoted to the making of the movie "On the Road" and also the mechanics of creating this book. Most of the rest of the book is a transcription of several interviews the author conducted with LuAnne. Included is information about her marriages, children, home and work life, illnesses and death. I appreciate the book because if it weren't for the effort put forth by the author to contact and interview LuAnne, we would know very little about who she really was. She and the author seemed to have developed a good rapport and her personality did shine through. There are many pictures included that I'd never seen before and although the photos don't show up well on the Kindle, they look great on the "Kindle for PC" application. My only negative criticism pertains to that first 24% of the book, where the author provided a rather glowing assessment of the actors and producers of the "On the Road" movie. Carolyn Cassady didn't like the movie and professional critics gave it rather poor reviews. After finishing the book I watched the movie and it was so horrible I wish I could "un-watch" it. Jack Kerouac is one of my favorite authors; "On the Road" is one of my favorite books. In my opinion, the movie was a desecration, so this author's praise for those responsible for making the film was off-putting. He could have omitted that information and spent less space describing the mechanics of the interviews. This biography isn't a comprehensive one, but it's all we have right now and for that reason I'd have to say it's a "must read" for those who love all things "beat."
on February 8, 2013
A Book Review of "ONE AND ONLY: The Untold Story of ON THE ROAD and Lu Anne Henderson, The Woman Who Started Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady On Their Journey."
I completed reading this book on February 2, 2013. It was leant to me by my Uncle, Billy Koumantzelis, who was a personal friend of Jack Kerouac's. Inside of the book cover - on the title page - is a handwritten note and autograph from the author that says: "For Billy Koumantzelis & Genevieve Regan - great friends along the Road. Billy, you are the great truth teller with heart [a drawing of a heart]. Love always, Gerry Nicosia. 10-8-11 Lowell."
Have you ever read any books by Jack Kerouac? ...
If you have never read any books by Jack Kerouac, you should read at least one: THE SCRIPTURE OF THE GOLDEN ETERNITY. But you cannot go wrong with even reading his heartfelt little book, simply called, PIC. Most people will tell you to read DOCTOR SAX, or ON THE ROAD, or THE DHARMA BUMS - which are all great books. Personally, I like all of these books, but I especially enjoyed LONESOME TRAVELER, DESOLATION ANGELS, and VISIONS OF CODY. I have a first edition, cloth bound copy of THE SUBTERRANEANS that I truly treasure as well. Everyone resonates with something different. Some people like "the Lowell books" better, like MAGGIE CASSIDY, while others prefer his "tripping books," like BIG SUR. Some people really enjoy his books of poetry the most. He even wrote a play once that finally saw the light of day in 2012.
This book by Gerald Nicosia is a godsend. ... Why do I say that? ... I say that because reading this book not only helped me to understand who the real Lu Anne Henderson was, it helped me to understand who the real Jack Kerouac and who the real Neal Cassady were. Not only that, but it helped me to more fully understand what really happened out there "on the road" during the many trips that Jack, Neal, and Lu Anne took crossing this great country together in the late 1940's post World War Two era. The true hero of this book, in fact, might not even be Lu Anne Henderson ("Marylou" in ON THE ROAD) herself, but her good friend, Al Hinkle, who was probably Neal Cassady's best and lifelong friend. Though portrayed, unfortunately, in the movie version of ON THE ROAD as a bit of a bumbling bumpkin, the real person of Al Hinkle was nothing like the way he was portrayed in the film. In real life, he was a noble gentleman, a loyal friend, and a courageous soul who had true grit and lots of character and integrity. I was impressed by that.
Also, reading this book definitely clears up a lot of confusion in the mind of the reader over whether Jack Kerouac was writing true fiction or simply writing documentation of his life - and changing the real names around. Though it was primarily the latter, according to what Lu Anne Henderson personally told the author, Jack Kerouac definitely changed some things around from the way they really happened and made up stuff. Of course, as a novelist of "fiction," he had every right to do that. But he still felt guilty over having done it, and Lu Anne made that perfectly clear to the author. It's not that it bothered her, significantly, that Jack had done this. It seems like it bothered her more that he was so nervous about having done it, as if it was a deep betrayal of the truth in his own heart and in the hearts and minds of his friends and close companions that shared the road together with him.
I finished reading this book shortly after having seen the movie of ON THE ROAD which I saw right on the heels of having finally read the ORIGINAL SCROLL version of ON THE ROAD. I must say, reading ONE AND ONLY after seeing the movie really sharpened the focus of the whole picture in my mind and cleared-up a lot of things that one cannot simply grasp from either reading the scroll version of the book or watching the movie. This book, then, is essential reading for anyone who wants to learn more of the whole story - and more of the truth of what really happened out on the road - from someone who was there the whole time it was happening: Lu Anne Henderson.
God, what a beautiful woman she was! I find it truly sad that she never got the chance to see the movie of ON THE ROAD before she died. Some of us had been waiting since 1957 to see this movie. In her case, I'm sure, she was probably waiting since 1947. But her daughter and the author were very instrumental in mentoring and guiding the actors who played the parts of the major characters in real life. This, I'm sure, is some small consolation to the families of Lu Anne Henderson and Neal Cassady. When you think that this book - ON THE ROAD - was not really a book of true fiction in the classic sense but a book of autobiography or historical documentary, it makes it all the more interesting when you realize that most of this stuff that took place really happened to these people! For Kerouac to turn his life with his friends into works of literary art that would be celebrated for generations after he and them were all dead and gone must not only have been enormously satisfying to him in some small way but is, also, most certainly, a great feat of human accomplishment. How many people can say that they turned their whole life inside out and made a living out of what went on between them and their friends? Now, I know that when Jack was alive, he barely made a living out of doing what he did. But, it's still quite a human accomplishment having done that and pretty incredible just the same, and now - for sure - like many other great people who have died before their time (like Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, and Frank Zappa), the work that they generated while alive continues to generate even greater monetary profits for all of the living they have left behind.
I wonder sometimes exactly how Neal Cassady died on those lonely railroad tracks down in Mexico. It appears that he killed himself. Who knows for sure? Whatever the case may be, it broke both the hearts of Lu Anne Henderson and Jack Kerouac who both loved him very much. This book makes it quite clear that if it were not for Lu Anne Henderson, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady may have never become the close companions that they had become. It also makes it quite clear that Lu Anne Henderson was no "whore" as was even included in a remark made by Neal in the new movie. Even the new movie does not do her the total justice she deserves. If what Lu Anne told the author is true, then it was not the case at all that Lu Ann was the wild and sexy woman while Carolyn was the classy and cultured lady. The major difference between the two was that Lu Anne lacked the formal and academic education that Carolyn acquired. Lu Anne, though - a deep and fellow, emotional, water sign Pisces like Jack Kerouac - was very intuitive, perceptive, psychic, sensitive, and compassionate to the core. This comes across quite strongly in ONE AND ONLY. Only another Pisces can truly understand a Pisces - and Lu Anne may have come the closest of anyone to having understood the deep nature of Jack Kerouac. Neal was an Aquarius - another higher astrological sign - and Lu Anne had a deep understanding of his nature as well. She was the "third force" - as the Gurdjieff WORK might put it - that made this bond between all of these people hold.
I loved reading this book. It tied it all together for me. When you get to the part where the author includes the transcription of the interview that he had done with Lu Anne back in the late 1970's when he was doing research for his masterful biography of Jack Kerouac called MEMORY BABE, you will be moved in a big way. This woman is a true Mahatma - a great soul. It's almost like you're right there in the room together with them while they are conducting the interview. Really fascinating!
If Neal Cassady was Huckleberry Finn to Jack Kerouac's Tom Sawyer, I do not know what that makes Lu Anne Henderson. I am not a Twain scholar. But whatever she was, her insightful and revelatory voice comes through loud and clear in this book. From Lu Anne, I finally learned when Jack Kerouac started to drink heavily - and why. From Lu Anne, I finally learned the real reason why Jack Kerouac left San Francisco and did not stay with her there to make a new life together. From Lu Anne, I finally learned the real reason why Neal Cassady became so disenchanted with his life and why this very book is called "ONE AND ONLY."
I usually take a lot of notes when I read a book, and this time was no exception. I took a total of seventy five notes. I was inspired to incorporate so many of them into this book review that if I were to do so, it would make it so long that it would lose most people's interest before finishing reading it. So, I refrain from incorporating all of those notes. Nevertheless, I cannot end this review without including just one, from pages 225, 226, and 227:
"It was 1966, and I was already enjoying the Bay Area counterculture. Despite my mother's warnings to "stay away from Bill Graham and that crowd he hangs around with," I'd already been to the Fillmore Auditorium many times - to see Janis Joplin and Big Brother, Steppenwolf, the Grateful Dead, and so many other great countercultural bands. Of course, my mother was right - people were doing every kind of drug that you could imagine at these concerts. I wasn't doing the drugs, but I liked the music. We lived in Daly City, but I went to all the free concerts in Golden Gate Park, and to the Haight-Ashbury to buy earrings and peasant skirts. I grew up in the era of the hippies, so I must admit that Beats, beatniks, and the Beat Generation were as far from my world as the flappers of the 1920s.
I was 16 years old when I met Neal Cassady, and I was absolutely baffled when he showed up at our house. ... The Day-Glo-painted bus "Furthur" was still parked in front of the house. ... "Who is this crazy person?" I demanded. ... It turned out - I later learned - that the bus had been filled with Pranksters and members of the Grateful Dead, who'd been hoping to come in our house to crash for a while. If I had known that, being a big fan of the Dead, I would probably have invited them in with open arms."
I am a firm believer in the fact - as far as I am concerned - that The Flower Children, The Merry Pranksters, and Ken Kesey were the genuine cultural bridge between The Beats that came before them and The Hippies that came after them. The person driving that bus was Neal Cassady - immortalized in Bob Weir's song, "Cassidy," on his first solo album called, "ACE" - a genuine masterpiece and a Grateful Dead album in spirit for sure, as the band plays on it!
Gerald Nicosia is a great researcher, first and foremost, but boy - can this man write a book! He makes reading fun and easy - because he has already done all of the hard work beforehand. He does not simply write like a journalist under the deadline of an editor or like an academic scholar who writes for peer-reviewed, university publications. Not that there is anything wrong with writing in either of those two styles - and not that, if he wanted to, he as well could not write in those two styles - but that when you read his book, you feel like you are reading the words of someone who has the soul of an artist and the gifts of a poet. These words are alive on the page! That is the difference between just a good book and a great book.
YOWZA! - George Nicholas Koumantzelis / The Aeolian Kid
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified 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. Apparently Lu Anne was able to always be loving, caring and optimistic through the good times and the tragedies in her life while her male counterparts, Jack and Neal, gave up hope and both died relatively young, angry and disillusioned. I'm so glad that the authors have finally decided to tell Lu Anne's story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A gift to my wife, who has a long admiration with the Beat Generation, but especially LuAnne Henderson. This book did not disappoint...except to just make you want to learn more about the enigmatic and totally unique LuAnne.