Free-spirited adventuress? Promiscuous party girl? Proto-feminist? Who was the real Lu Anne Henderson, immortalized as “Marylou” in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road?

Nicosia (Lunatics, Lovers, Poets, Vets and Bargirls, 2006, etc.) and Santos address many of the labels thrown at Henderson and her reputation in this composite text comprised of scholarly analysis, an extensive interview with Henderson conducted in 1978 and personal memoirs about her. Henderson, the 15-year-old beauty who married Neal Cassady, accompanied Kerouac, Cassady and others on the cross-country adventures later fictionalized in On the Road. Nicosia makes a compelling case for Henderson’s unique perspective on and understanding of Kerouac and Cassady, poster boys for the Beat generation. Henderson was there from the onset of their friendship, when she and a passionate, frenzied Cassady arrived in New York City in a stolen car, carrying suitcases of books but no cash. The two quickly fell in with a group of young students and budding writers, including Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and John Clellon Holmes. Cassady, desperately trying to become a writer and overcome his lack of education, was enthralled, inspired and sometimes jealous of these new peers. The balancing act of admiration and misunderstanding was most pronounced between Kerouac and Cassady, especially in later years. Yet their friendship ran deep and had profound effects on both of their lives, as Henderson directly observed in her role as friend and lover: “I really believe there was something of an umbilical cord between the two of them, because their lives were so entwined, and they really both ran the same gamut, and wound up at the same place.” Henderson’s extensive interview provides a unique perspective on the development of the seminal Kerouac-Cassady friendship, as well as anecdotes about and corrections to the account rendered in On the Road. The oft-maligned Henderson, characterized as an oversexed nitwit in many film and memoir accounts of the period, speaks with intelligence, insight and tenderness about her experiences and her genuine affection for both men. A real find for Beat aficionados, adding verve to a cherished moment in American history and the novel that came to define it.


Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-936740-04-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viva Editions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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