Monday, November 13, 2017

Heartbeat - My Life with Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, A Review

A novel about Beat Legends Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, told by Neal's wife Carolyn Cassady. The time period is the early to mid 1950s.

Heartbeat, by Carolyn Cassady

By Carolyn Cassady, wife of Neal Cassady

My Life with Jack and Neal, as the subtitle indicates, is written from the point of view of the wife of one of the most loved and discussed of the Beat legends, Neal Cassady.

One woman, and two men who are best friends, the "triangle" that never seems to work very well. When Neal settles into family life with Carolyn, he invites Jack to come and stay with them. Jack is on the healing end of a marriage split, and appreciates the offer and the company. He thinks he can hire on to the railway, and yearns to see different places.  Jack arrives and is given his own room to encourage him to write. He thrives on the family atmosphere, but Neal gradually becomes less keen on the sharing, especially when it affects his marriage. As the tension builds, Jack gets the signal that his welcome is wearing thin. It's time to hit the road again.

Jack describes the San Francisco he sees in the mid to late 1950s, and the trains where he tries to make a few dollars to help pay his way. Jack may covet what Neal has, it's hard to say. Neal may covet Jack's freedom to roam. But the idyllic setup comes to an end. What one imagines as ideal doesn't always seem that way in reality. Sad but true.

This is a small book, a novella, and easy to read. If you're a fan of the Beat Literary writers, then you might like reading this one, as I did. There are letters in the book which were written between Ginsberg, Kerouac and others. It's a resource for those learning about Jack and Neal. Recommended for fans of the Beats and for those wanting to learn more about the 1950s lifestyles of this generation.

Do you like to read about the Beat literary writers and their books? Have you read any of the books by Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, William Burroughs, or Allan Ginsberg? Do you like any of the Beat writers?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll reply. Thanks for stopping by!

More reviews to come on two mystery books (compilations) by Agatha Christie.



Jack Kerouac (A to Z Blog Challenge 2016)
Contains several additional links to Jack Kerouac book review posts and information on the writer.