Friday, June 8, 2018

Curation #60 from my Kerouac bookshelf: Maggie Cassidy by Jack Kerouac

Item #60 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 1993 Penguin Books 2nd printing of Jack Kerouac's Maggie Cassidy. It's in good condition (minor underlining and yellowed pages), 194 pages, about 5" x 7-3/4", and the provenance is unknown although it is likely the first copy I bought of three that I own and therefore the one I read first. I imagine it was a used purchase on Amazon.

I already said enough about the content of Maggie Cassidy when I curated my other two copies on April 9 and 10 here and here. So, here are some random thoughts about Maggie Cassidy in no particular order of importance.

Note that Cassidy is spelled different from the surname of Jack's muse, Holy Goof Neal Cassady. Ellis Amburn in Subterranean Kerouac says that "it seems likely that Kerouac was displacing other relationships onto Mary Carney when he wrote Maggie Cassidy," most notably, of course, Carolyn Cassady -- who Amburn states said she never asked Jack about the possible connection between the names.

The cover of this copy includes an apt quote from Kerouac biographer and scholar, Ann Charters: "A bittersweet evocation of high school, love, lust and loss in small town thirties America . . . ."

I note that either Charters or the editor does not subscribe to the Oxford comma. I do.

It's probably gauche, but some of you may be wondering if Jack and the real-life Maggie Cassidy, Mary Carney, ever consummated their relationship given the ending (where the protagonist Jack Duluoz is stymied by Maggie's girdle). Barry Miles, in Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats, points out that "while Jack was having a tortured chaste love affair with Mary he was at the same time sleeping with a much more worldly girl called Peggy Coffey." Amburn says that Mary Carney told her daughter, Judy, that Jack was her father, which would suggest intercourse. However, Amburn states that Mary does not appear on the list Jack kept of his sexual conquests (a "sex list" he says is in the Kerouac archive in Lowell), revealing that he and Mary never consummated their affair. Given the conflicting stories, we are left to wonder . . . .

Maggie Cassidy is both a roman รก clef and a Bildungsroman. If those are unfamiliar terms, I invite you to Google them. I love words and these are some good ones to know.

 Happy reading!

Below is a picture of Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (10th item from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

Shelf #2 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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