Gerald Nicosia on the road | Bleader

Gerald Nicosia on the road

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Berwyn native and UIC grad Gerald Nicosia is in town to present his new book, One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road. He has appearances Wednesday at 2 PM at the UIC Daley Library, Wednesday at 7:30 PM at Women & Children First, and Thursday at 7 PM at Barbara's on Halsted.

Best known as the author of Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, Nicosia also wrote Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement. (Patrick Z. McGavin profiled Nicosia about that in a 2001 Reader story, "Writing Is Hell.")

Nicosia, who lives in the Bay Area, writes to the Reader about One and Only:

"One and Only (which just came out from Viva Editions in Berkeley) is filled with a huge amount of new information about Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. It grew out of my work on the movie of On the Road, which concluded filming here in SF last December, and my lifelong connection with the Beats.

"The book is based on two long interviews I had done in 1978 with Lu Anne Henderson (the model for the character “Marylou” of On the Road). I discovered them in my archive when I was coaching Kristen Stewart, who plays Marylou/Lu Anne, and working as an advisor to the film last summer in Montreal. The movie itself was supposed to have been out in December but now appears to have been moved to 2012.

"I discovered that these interviews, over ten hours in total, contained the whole inside, untold story of what really happened on the trips that Kerouac turned into his famous novel. So I worked with Lu Anne’s daughter Anne Santos (the real Lu Anne died a few years ago) to get the full story of her life, and also interviewed some other people who were involved in the story. The book is a bio of Lu Anne, but it also contains the full 35,000 words of edited interviews, revealing things about Neal and Jack no one else ever told, and that few people knew. It shows how the Beat Generation really began (the key was this woman, linking Kerouac and Cassady)—and also how Kerouac was able to shape and change the real facts of the story to make the novel that changed history. The book also deals in part with the making of the movie, especially the way that Kristen Stewart came to understand her part as Lu Anne/Marylou.

"Anne Santos, Lu Anne’s daughter, by the way, will be with me at all the readings in Chicago."

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