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GRACE BEATS KARMA by Neal Cassady

GRACE BEATS KARMA

Letters from Prison 1958-60

By Neal Cassady

Pub Date: June 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-922233-08-X

 Unlike the Beats and hippies he inspired and who enshrined him in turn (most notably as Dean Moriarity in On the Road), Cassady (1926-68) left behind few writings other than a big mess of a novel, The First Third (1971). What a pleasure for literary bohemians and their scholars alike, then, that Carolyn Cassady, the author's long-suffering wife (see her Off the Road, 1990), has released these several dozen letters that Cassady wrote to her (and to a few others) while imprisoned in California for selling a small quantity of marijuana to some narcs. The letters speak of mundane concerns but mostly of matters of the spirit (at the time, Cassady was obsessed with Christianity), and are written in the sort of linguistic frenzy and often inspired wordplay that energized Kerouac & Co.: ``My Dear Dear Carolyn: Not since we last quaffed, or is it quiffed, gardenias together has 2 hrs. 43 min. & 12 seconds passed so quickly as did that amount on our Wed. afternoon of consoling inspiration....''; ``Dearest Better Half, Whole Wife, Forever Best Love, Sweetest Sour Suffering, My Sins Carolyn Closest, Christ Comrade Ceaselessly Cheerful....'' This isn't everyone's cup of tea, of course, spiked as it is with huge dollops of self-indulgence, but it's a welcome--if relatively minor- -literary and cultural offering that some will down like elixir.