In Jack Kerouac’s teenage years his friends gave him a nickname that was prescient and stuck with him throughout his life—Memory Babe. Kerouac was able to conjure up scenes from his childhood and adolescence that astounded his friends with their precision and detail. This talent was to serve him well as a novelist, enabling him to recall long segments of conversation that he could instantly pound out on his typewriter.
Maggie Cassidy is one of Kerouac’s most tender recollections of his past, focusing on his first true love when he was a high-school senior and a local star athlete. Filled with the sweet innocence of youth and the daily heartbreak of quarrels and unfulfilled sexual yearnings, Kerouac employs his stylishly Beat observations toward the nostalgic time period of pre-World War II Lowell, Massachusetts, when he was torn between the companionship of his gang of buddies and the sirens’ call of the opposite sex. In addition to his romance with the title character, Kerouac is especially evocative in reproducing the slangy teen-speak of the late 1930s and in detailing how he went from a precocious local boy in Lowell to an exclusive New York prep school where he was to later meet the brilliant young men who would begin the Beat Movement.
The new Devault-Graves Digital Editions version of Maggie Cassidy contains a wealth of new material for both the casual reader and the student of Beat Generation literature. Included are: extensive annotations and endnotes, an original Afterword by author Tom Graves, a bibliography of Jack Kerouac’s literary works, a guide for further study on works about Kerouac, a guide for further study of books by other key Beat Generation writers, and an annotated Character Key to identify the characters in Maggie Cassidy.