04 February 2005

The father we never found

On this day in 1968 Neal Cassady died, at the age of forty-one. Cassady was not only Jack Kerouac's wheelman on the cross-country trips that inspired On the Road but a direct influence on Kerouac's style. His rambling, benzedrine-and-booze letters to Kerouac aimed for "a continuous chain of undisciplined thought," and invited his friend to "fall into a spontaneous groove" with him by mail. Only after getting this advice (and his own pile of bennies and his 120 ft. roll of paper) did Kerouac move beyond the "phony architectures" (i.e. traditional prose) of his rough draft into "innocent go-ahead confession, the discipline of making the mind the slave of the tongue."

Read the rest at Today in Literature.

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