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Off the Road: Twenty Years with Cassady, Kerouac and Ginsberg (Flamingo) Paperback – 26 Sep 1991


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New edition edition (26 Sept. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006544479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006544470
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 877,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Day on 7 April 2009
Format: Paperback
My curiosity was first peaked in "Off the Road" by, as I'm sure is often the case, my earlier reading of the works by the enigmatic Jack Kerouac and my consequent desire to learn more about not only him but the legendary Neal Cassidy that I had come to know under the pseudonym "Dean Moriarty" in "On the Road". I wasn't entirely taken with the dynamic pair, knowing the havoc they wreaked on the lives of others through their dangerous adventures across the country and other reckless behaviour, but at the same time there was a glamour to their style of life that kept me intrigued. A zest for life that was infectious. A second opinion seemed necessary.
It was not quite what I expected. I was interested in the story, but I was expecting perhaps something of a rant against the injustices Carolyn had to endure. Far from it. Carolyn is a strong writer in her own respect, chronicling her adventures and misadventures with the famous characters she lived with, loved, and was justly agonizingly torn over. The narrative of the tale flows with a beauty that kept me turning pages when I least expected it (you know, 2AM with work the next morning...) Carolyn produces unbelievable insight into all of the psychologies and actions of those around her, particularly considering how long ago all the events happened, backing these musings with later actions and a massive amount of correspondence between Neal, Jack, Allen, and herself. She gives the less glamorous side of the tales that Kerouac narrated in his books, balancing that allure of the freedom granted by the open road and the kicks of drugs, women, and danger the two men loved, with the depression they both faced, the internal struggles they had to cope with, and their ultimate self-destruction.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amy Arthur on 12 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
In Off the Road, Carolyn Cassady provides the reader with a new perspective on the Beat and Hippie movements. Her position is an interesting one--close enough to these movements to report on them in detail, but distanced enough psychologically to show them separate from the fervour often directed at them by their enthusiasts. In Cassady's memoir we see these men as human beings, rather than phenomena, or poster-children for a generation or literary movement. She also gives insight into the female experience within what is very much a male-dominated subculture.
The book is an absorbing read. The truth of these men's lives is every bit as entertaining as the fiction based upon it, if not more so simply because it actually happened. I enjoyed Off the Road immensely and would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in a more well-rounded knowledge of the Beat movement.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jocelyn on 31 July 2007
Format: Paperback
I knew nothing of the Beat Generation, Kerouac, or Neal Cassady before reading this book; however, it was truly an experience! A great story that is told from the perspective of Neal's wife and Kerouac's lover, Carolyn Cassady, who has managed to capture the reality of her situation in an endearing manner. I laughed with her, cried with her, and got angry at her life when she couldn't bring herself to do it. Reading this book I felt like I was one of the characters, truly involved in the story and what was going on. I recommend this to anyone who is a beat enthusiast, or those who have never heard of Beat before. If you like a great story, you'll love Off the Road.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rubsley on 13 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Tremendous book, breathtaking in its detail and in Carolyn's remembrance of people, conversations, situations. Some might say too much information but better it's all preserved here than anything lost from what appears to be an important time in literary and cultural history. This is the companion piece to everything Kerouac and Ginsberg wrote, to whatever stories you might have heard about Neal Cassady - the one to round it out, complete the picture, provide the other view. Not all puppy dogs and roses - N.C. not just mad jumping crazy and something to laugh about, hero-worship, but the family man too, who caused his family much grief, even as they loved him. Carolyn is honest, always self-critical, desperate to try and accept the mad behaviour around her - even when I, as a reader, was screaming, Jesus, love, there's nothing wrong with you, it's all wrong wrong wrong! But she loved him anyway, couldn't leave/let him go, and came to see the whole thing as her karma - and post 'On The Road' we get to see the inner story of her and Neal's attempts to find spiritual meaning in their lives, to heal their situation. A welcome relief after the boozed up empty Buddhist rants of Kerouac's later books - as though throwing the words 'holy' and 'Tathagata' and 'void' into a sentence is what being a free-expressing Buddhist is all about. Neal, of course, is the star - as, I imagine, he always was. But also so, so sad. We need this book to read and not get carried away with all the exuberant freedom of 'On The Road' - because we need balance; there was a price to pay; and they paid it with their lives. If only if only if only...but all was as it was meant to be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 5 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
In Off the Road, Carolyn Cassady, wife of Jack Kerouac's sporadic travelling companion and the movement's forgotten prophet, Neal Cassady, provides the definitive history of the birth of the `Beat' generation.

The author paints a beguiling portrait of her journey into a universe inhabited by itinerant poets, authors and artists; this demented coterie of hipsters breeze through her marital home in a tornado of poetry, prose, and disruption. She is able to draw on her wide correspondence with Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and her husband, as well as her own recollections to record and vividly bring to life the genesis and evolution of the Beat movement and the beginnings of a wider counter-culture.

Off the Road is essential reading for any Beat scholar. As wife of Neal Cassady and sometime lover of Kerouac, Carolyn Cassady is ideally placed as an intimate outsider in the close and powerful friendship of two icons of Beat literature. Off the Road, read in triptych with On the Road and Ginsberg's seminal poem Howl, provides an essential overview of a movement that redefined modern culture, as well as recording the author's struggle to preserve her family and her marriage in the face of this dramatic cultural shift.
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