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Collected Letters, 1944-1967 Paperback – January 25, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Not always inspired, sometimes pedestrian, Cassady's voice is always compelling. This book is essential reading for fan's of the beats and should be on the bookshelf along with the letters of Kerouac, Burroughs and Ginsberg. Fans of Ken Kesey, Ed McClanahan, Larry McMurtry, Gurney Norman, the Grateful Dead, etc. will appreciate this book as well.
It is sad to read how often Cassady talks of writing a new book when you know that he never really get around to doing it but, in a sense, he lived a life which became a part of many books. In that sense, as an inspiration, a many faceted character he is very much a part of literature and this will add deservingly to this recognition.
Now's your chance.......
Read between the lines of what Jack Kerouac
was saying in On the Road, or at least get closer
to his hero Dean Moriarty (real name Neal Cassady).
This book officially published this winter in the
USA and available on import in the UK is a
CAUSE CELEBRE of the Beat World. Possibly
the best Beat read you'll have had since On the Road.
Neal Cassady's Letters - produced by Carolyn
Cassady and others, brilliantly edited (and that
doesn't mean cut) by Beat authority Dave Moore.
Having read On the Road we think we know it all?
We don't know half of it. Neal's Letters flesh out
the legend. For instance they show the married side
of Neal with intimate letters between himself and
Carolyn, something On the Road barely touches on.
They reveal the extent of the 'manage a trois' which
existed between Neal, Carolyn and Jack.
You want something even spicier? Try the long letter
to Alan Ginsberg starting on p.199 ...or Diana's note
on Neal p.142-143, or Neal's outrageous letter starting
p.327 and you'll see why Neal Cassady joins The
Marquis de Sade, Casanova, and Rasputin as
a sexual enchanter.
Bristolian Dave Moore's meticulous annotation and footnotes
link the letters, explain them, and make a narrative of them.
They prove Neal an engaging writer who's free-form
style inspired Kerouac in his genius to make
a prose-poem of the tale.Read more ›
Tom Wolfe is another great writer, who wrote the amazing "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," in which Neal is also a prominent character, this time the driver of a psychedelic busful of hippies.
In these books, and in others, Neal Cassady stands out distinctly as a fascinating character worthy of study--a man with an almost bottomless manic energy, the sex drive of a large crowd, and a penchant for joyriding in stolen cars.
This book here, however, goes a little deeper, is a little more personal, and as a result, damages many of the romantic illusions that have been built around his character.
This is Neal's life in his own words, in words from letters meant only for his friends and lovers and family, not for the public. There is some dishonesty here, but still it's very intimate, and very disclosing.
This book shows the sides of Neal that were often downplayed in books about him, sides that would have made him a much less sympathetic character: the neglectful way he treated and cast aside his wives and children, the almost psychopathic detachment from the crimes he committed and the women he used, the anger and the bitterness over his lot in life, the general disloyalty, the pathetically unsuccessful attempts at trying to be a writer, and the transparent tries to make his often empty life seem more significant than it was and his often horrible choices seem less like choices and more like fate.
All that would be fine however, if he had only been a better writer.Read more ›
The two aspects I enjoyed most about this book were his hopes to be a family man and his desire to be an author, favorite aspects I suppose because that's not how I saw him previously. He tried hard to be a good husband and father but his muse wouldn't let him. And in these letters you see the creative, free-wheeling writing ability he was capable of but just couldn't get together in book form. Kerouac credits Neal for inspiring the style he'd develope for "On the Road" and on, and throughout the 50's encourages him to continue his writing.
The bulk of this collection dates before 1957, before the publication of "On the Road" and the whole beat sensation. In that regard it's very special to have the inside look at these letters which at the time of their composition no one would have had the faintest clue would be published. These are letters between friends, aspiring artists and lovers when there was no email and long distance phone calls were a luxury. Neal's writing was sometimes pedestrian but at other times it would soar, making clear why Ginsburg, Kerouac, etc argued he was the greatest writer of the group.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is AMAZING!! There was a letter where Neal gave Jack his opinion on their respective relationships with Lucien Carr with a very thorough and eloquent analysis that really... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Sarah
Life in the Fast Lane doesn't do this person justice. I think sadly in these times, he would have been classified as a bipolar and given a lot of meds. Read morePublished on July 22, 2014 by Luvvic
Unless you already know the history of the beats quit well this book is fairly useless. I think if you already knew the broad brush of history this would fill in the gaps but it... Read morePublished on June 21, 2014 by William C. Butler
I STILL do not get the full impact of Neal Cassady, but his letters come closer to the man than anything I've read so far. Read morePublished on August 18, 2013 by J. R. McHone
Incredible insight into a true icon of the 'Beat' generation and a 'muse' for Jack Kerouac, Allan Ginsberg, and many others. So well worth reading!Published on April 3, 2013 by Andy Schwartz
I really like the Beats and Neal was at crest of the wave. This book offers a ton of great insight into the man and his thoughts. Read morePublished on September 26, 2009 by p74atrick
The first thing that surprised me about these letters was how fine Cassady's vocabulary was; and how well-read he was. Read morePublished on August 29, 2006 by Kenneth M. Goodman