Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Maggie Cassidy” as Want to Read:
Maggie Cassidy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Maggie Cassidy

(Duluoz Legend)

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  4,007 ratings  ·  204 reviews
"When someone asks 'Where does [Kerouac] get that stuff?' say: 'From you!' He lay awake all night listening with eyes and ears. A night of a thousand years. Heard it in the womb, heard it in the cradle, heard it in school , heard it on the floor of life's stock exchange where dreams are traded for gold." —Henry MillerOne of the dozen books written by Jack Kerouac in the ea ...more
Paperback, 194 pages
Published August 1st 1993 by Penguin Books (first published 1959)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Maggie Cassidy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Maggie Cassidy

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,007 ratings  ·  204 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Mike Sweeney
Aug 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. Its mostly over looked by your run of the mill Jack Kerouac fans. Nothing like On the Road, its not about being a beatnik. There are no drugs or road trips or crazy jazzmen...Its a sweet love story set in pure Americana in 20's Lowell.
I prefer the stories of his youth like Maggie Cassidy and Visions of Gerard (Dylan's favorite Kerouac book). These books tend to have all the elements of the more beatnik books but without the trendiness of the beats.
The kiss scene is one
Oct 15, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Fucking hell, Kerouac.

It may be that your semi-intellectual idea of 'spontaneous prose' is the source of some deeply poetic-sounding shit. It may be that On the Road is a great book. It may be grand that you wrote a book about your first love and named it after her.

This all becomes slightly less grand, however, when you then go on to spend half your time "in love" disrespecting and ditching 'that big love in the wild Lowell whirlwinds of black night'.

There's some instant Kerouac for ya. Just ma
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've just out this book down and am currently torn. On one hand, Kerouac requires patience, a bit of a run-up, time to settle in to his rhythms. At some points, I didn't give him that, but when I did it was fantastic. When I didn't I was disappointed. Equally, it's a first novel and a little messy - in good ways and in bad - at turns not quite hitting the mark and resulting in delightfully madcap, onomatopoeic run-on sentences. When its good, it's really, really good, and following at its natura ...more
Yeshi Dolma
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Kerouac. As a story, it's very typical; an adolescent love affair of an American high school athlete, set in 60s maybe, a small town story. However, the writing is sweet as honey. It is the poet in Kerouac that won it all over for me, despite the testosterone driven teenage boy talks. The writing was beautiful, very poetic. :)
Chris Meger
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Maybe one of the most approachable of Jack's. Heartbreaking and sincere. There's an upside down kiss in this book that is a thousand times sweeter and sexier than the one in Spider-Man
Robin Friedman
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First Love

Kerouac's autobiographical novel "Maggie Cassidy" is set in his hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts in 1939. It is the story of a high school romance in all its innocence and sexual frustration. The book includes wonderful descriptive passages of winter in New England, of shabby urban tenements, of grizzled and failed adults, and of hope, love, and loss.

The book captures the yearnings of first love in its confusion and undirected passion. It talks about both how people change and how the
Benjamin Stahl
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Heartbreak Hipster Review

With Kerouac being one of my father's favourite authors - (he takes The Dharma Bums with him whenever we travel. He even named our first dog after him, though we kids were unable to pronounce the name, and so just called him “Wacky”) - I have always been encouraged to read some of his work. Along with Hemingway - and several others of this respected, but unvisited, calibre - I have always intended to read something of his, eventually. And so finally, having finished Ma
David Highton
Published in 1959, after 'On the Road', this novel covers Jack Duluoz (a thinly disguised young Kerouac) through his final year of High School and his first year of college in 1939-40m and his romance with Maggie. Although the characters have different names, this is a prequel for the Sal Paradise character in 'On the Road" which I read 40 years ago. Written in his 'spontaneous prose' style, some of the writing is quite lyrical and the early scenes of his schoolfriends larking about are great. O ...more
Michael Irenski
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jack Kerouac embodies Americana. Plain and simple.

Father-Son relationships. Blue Collar America. Wild, silly friendships. Small(ish) towns. All some of my favorite things.

One of the greatest love stories I've ever read, "Maggie Cassidy" so accurately exemplifies friendship, young love, and adolescence. To fool friends and family for the heart of a woman, as flawed as she may be, while simulatenously battling the confusion of growing up, Kerouac illustrates that our decisions as youngsters really
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Love the passion of Kerouac's prose even if it gets tiresome after a while. I read this book when I was a teen, around 1965, and still have a fond spot for passages like this:

"Can I make you happier with powder on my chest? Do you need a thousand movie shows? Sixteen million people to ride the bus with, hit the stop—I shoulda never let you go away from home—" Rich lips brooded in my deaf ear. “The fog’ll fall all over you, Jacky, you’ll wait in fields—You’ll let me die—you wont come save me—I wo
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
It's always interesting reading Kerouac because his style is so unusual, even in the this pre-On The Road book published after he became famous. Since all of his books seem to be semi-autobiographical, it was fun to read a story about young Jack Kerouac, how he relates to his friends, what he thinks about his home town Lowell, MA, what he thinks of girls, his star athleticism, and a little about his family's dynamics. Ultimately though, I'd give this book two and half stars because it's main sto ...more
May 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Good quotes: "The second-hand kisses the minute hand sixty times an hour 24 hours a day and still we swallow in hope of life."
"I can't face my own conculsions."
Guy Portman
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: beat-generation
Set in the close-knit working-class French-Canadian community of Lowell, Massachusetts, Maggie Cassidy is a semi-autobiographical account of Kerouac’s adolescence. The story is recounted through the teenage mind of the author’s alter ego, Jack Duluoz, a high school athletics and American football star.

Maggie Cassidy is a meditation of love, of being in love and youthful innocence. A memoir of the fantasy-filled memories of adolescent years spent male bonding with his ‘corner boys’, recollecting
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
My lovely husband read me this book over several nights before going to bed and I think that's the only way I can appreciate Jack Kerouac since I have a hard time understanding his prose when I am reading it on my own.

In comparison to my experience reading On the Road, Maggie Cassidy felt real and soulful whereas with On the Road, I never understood what was going on or why the story was written.

One of the things I love about this book is that it really shows how similar teenagers from the 193
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here, I think, Jack leaves plain where his life diverted from someone who could have a traditional life, faithful in his religion and devout in a monogamous marriage, to someone who brags about sleeping with a prostitute, even to his school crush. I enjoyed Kerouac’s messy prose still, and I think sometimes the misogyny is more a product of his time— but I do think Kerouac was at the same time aware of it, but would do nothing about it. Maybe add it to his guilt list. But the ending is so abrupt ...more
Nov 30, 2009 rated it did not like it
I found this book in the library, and having heard of Kerouac, but never read him, I loaned it. But I can't read it. I admire the way Kerouac creates words, but what he writes about - an American teenage boy of a previous generation - is too far removed for me to find it in the full-on fussy sentences. Perhaps, if the scenario was something I felt some empathy with, I would sink into the language - but as it is, I see the book as a little story padded and swathed with description until it can fi ...more
☮ mary
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
All I can say is that reading this book is good for the soul
( I'm not even kidding )


the Kerouac style sends my heart affluter, in "Maggie Cassidy" he explores a sort of Elusive Flighty Poetry #Love #Freedom #Childhood description
Ed Terrell
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-fiction
Maggie Cassidy is poetry in motion. Sad smells, candlelight sunsets, and cling-clanging trains rush you along with Jack and Maggie by his side past depots and jazz joints till the black of midnight strikes and you fall asleep clutching your pillow, prose rushing in to sweeten your dreams. When your’e a poet of Kerouac’s skill, every line has its rhythm and they fall together in place like the wonderful impromptu jazz magic that sweetens the darkened fog swept alleys of an inner city night.
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-fiction
An exhilarating, lively novel about the ambitious teenage Jack Duluoz and his love for Maggie Cassidy. Occasionally a victim of its time as far as attitudes are concerned this still ranks near to the top of Kerouac's novels for me, so far. Great poetic prose, a memorable group of characters getting to grips with what life has to offer them; all you could want from a writer doing what he does best.
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tyson Heck
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I see the appeal of this book, especially for those who find Kerouac's more well-known novels to have been written in the wrong spirit- for money more so than any other driving reason. And while it keeps in tradition with his style of writing, it does seem to stray away a tiny bit from the ramblings and incoherent sentences that are scattered among works like On The Road and even moreso in Dharma Bums. And, of course, nobody goes camping, lives off the earth, or does drugs. But who's counting?

Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This may be the day dreamer's handbook and a road map for anyone who has ever grown up and felt the world shift through the eyes of another. This is beat writing at its best, but there's no politics and spirituality; there's satisfaction in that mystifying poetry of love's unmeasurable angle.

Maggie Cassidy draws you in with an enticing narrative frame that clicks the zoom lens down to Zagg's formative years in a lucid dream. It's one that I personally recognised - being amongst the fog while eme
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I found Kerouac's style in this book to be truly phenomenal. It was some of the most beautiful writing of his. What made it an odd contrast was how it portrayed the life of a high school jock, a little shy and inexperienced, compared to the poor alcoholic of later books. The subject matter was an honest look at the frustration of high school relationships. I felt sorry for Maggie, stuck in what appeared to be a fairly small town, trying to decide at 17 if she should get married or not, more out ...more
Leslie Proudfoot
Oct 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Since this was one of his early books, I believe he hadn't developed the stream-of-consciousness style he'd later become famous for. In the beginning, Maggie Cassidy told the story of the golden age of the main character's youth and love in Francophone New England. The community had a faintly mythic quality, as though seen through a child's eyes. However as the story developed and the main character grew older, the charm was lost and the story floundered. Although interesting because of the desc ...more
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was good. About half-way through, I consciously realized how two-dimensional the characters were. (And that's not exactly a GOOD thing.) But the writing is beautiful, lyrical. The plot is strong, and it kept me turning pages. "Maggie Cassidy" probably doesn't get the attention it deserves in the Kerouac lexicon, to be honest. And the last two chapters are, in my opinion, among the finest commentary on the so-called "American Dream" that I've read in years.


This novel's ending is not
May 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-and-not-read
The fact that the main character in this novel is actually Sal Paradise - Kerouac wanted them to share the same name but publisher stopped that - made me like the book a lot more. And the fact that that made me like it a lot more isn't very good 'publicity' for this book. I've read two other Kerouacs, On the Road and Lonesome Traveler, that I both enjoyed very much. I love reading about travelling and all the adventures on the road, and I think Kerouacs spontaneous prose fits those stories very ...more
Beth Weeks
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Less profound than Kerouac's seminal work On the Road, Maggie Cassidy is nevertheless a thoughtful read that reflects on the innocence and nihilism inherent in teenage romance. Written in a sometimes-narrative, sometimes-stream of consciousness format, Kerouac recounts the tale of his formative years as a high-school athlete in 1930s New England as well as his frustrations with his first love, Maggie Cassidy. Perfect for a quiet winter night, Maggie Cassidy is a must-read in the Kerouac canon.
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: winter-reads
While the book takes place in Lowell, Massachusetts in a small yet urban neighborhood pre-World War II, the defining generation of a melting-pot society, it's easy to inhibit the main character, Jack Duluoz, as you ride along his experience as an adolescent clutching for the answers of friendship and true love. Although my first Jack Kerouac read, the writing style delivers a very realistic approach to how a young adult may interpret love while also dealing with family, school, and future expect ...more
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this as I love On the Road, but this book was difficult to read. The characters weren't interesting and didn't have depth. Due to the writing style I did not read this wanting to know what happens next or feel any investment in the characters lives. Kerouac's writing is a great improvement in On the Road. This is a good book to read if you are curious about Kerouac's teenage years but in terms of story and readability there just wasn't enough to keep me entertained.
Gabriel C.
Dec 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012, angela
If I never read another coming of age novel, it'll be too soon. There was a lot of pretension in here, like he read some fancy modernists and felt like he had to keep pace. I don't remember that kind of pretension in his other work--there was plenty of other pretension but not that. The ending got to me but I think that might just be the lonely tequila speaking. This was hard to work through, boring and somehow at the same time dread.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac
  • Jack Kerouac: Angelheaded Hipster
  • Go
  • First Third & Other Writings - Revised & Expanded Edition Together With A New Prologue
  • Jack's Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac
  • Mind Breaths
  • Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats
  • The Beat Book
  • Kerouac: A Biography
  • The Yage Letters
  • Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg
  • The Happy Birthday of Death
  • The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation
  • Her
  • Demon Box
  • Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of on the Road (They're Not What You Think)
See similar books…
Jack Kerouac was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac on March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Jack Kerouac's writing career began in the 1940s, but didn't meet with commercial success until 1957, when On the Road was published. The book became an American classic that defined the Beat Generation. Kerouac died on October 21, 1969, from an abdominal hemorrhage, at age 47.

Other books in the series

Duluoz Legend (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings
  • Visions of Gerard
  • Dr. Sax
  • The Town and the City
  • Vanity of Duluoz: An Adventurous Education, 1935-46
  • On the Road
  • Visions of Cody
  • The Subterraneans
  • Tristessa
  • The Dharma Bums
“She brooded and bit her rich lips: my soul began its first sink into her, deep, heady, lost; like drowning in a witches' brew, Keltic, sorcerous, starlike.” 29 likes
“In the variety of the tone of her words, moods, hugs, kisses, brushes of the lips, and this night the upside-down kiss over the back of the chair with her dark eyes heavy hanging and her blushing cheeks full of sweet blood and sudden tenderness brooding like a hawk over the boy over the back, holding the chair on both sides, just an instant, the startling sudden sweet fall of her hair over my face and the soft downward brush of her lips, a moment's penetration of sweet lip flesh, a moment's drowned in thinking and kissing in it and praying and hoping and in the mouth of life when life is young to burn cool skin eye-blinking joy - I held her captured upside down, also for just a second, and savored the kiss which first had surprised me like a blind man's bluff so I didn't know really who was kissing me for the very first instant but now I knew and knew everything more than ever, as, grace-wise, she descended to me from the upper dark where I'd thought only cold could be and with all her heavy lips and breast in my neck and on my head and sudden fragrance of the night brought with her from the porch, of some 5 & 10 cheap perfumes of herself the little hungry scent of perspiration warm in her flesh like presciousness.” 19 likes
More quotes…