Title: The First Third
Author: Neal Cassady
Page Count/Review Word Count: 222
Neal Cassady is a fascinating character – you might know him as Dean Moriarty in On The Road, one of Jack Kerouac‘s closest friends and a hugely underrated member of the beat movement. While the world mostly knows of Cassady because of Kerouac’s immortalisation of him, he’s an important literary figure in his own right, albeit one who was overshadowed by Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs.
As The First Third shows, Neal Cassady had a way with words that occasionally equaled his contemporaries, and this autobiographical novel is a fine example of his writing. It’s interesting to learn more about the life of a man who influenced so many, a rare example of a writer who, purely from the act of living in his own inimitable way, became immortalised in words by Kerouac, Ginsberg, Bukowski, Ken Kesey and Hunter S. Thompson, among others.
Simply put, The First Third would be worth reading whether it was written by Cassady or not. The fact that it was written by him just makes it all the better. It’s just a shame that Cassady died so young – it’s like a wasted opportunity, like he didn’t live up to his potential. Rest in peace, Neal Cassady.