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Anne Murphy’s “Tripping With A Viper” about Neal Cassady

May 4th, 2024 · 15 Comments · Kerouac and The Beats, Merry Pranksters


Beat & Prankster fans rejoice!

A new firsthand memoir has just been released of life with one of the Mount Rushmores of both the Beat Generation & the Merry Pranksters.  That doesn’t happen very often, and there aren’t many options left.

Anne Murphy (who later reverted back to her birth name Anne Marie Maxwell) was Neal Cassady’s primary girlfriend from roughly January 1962 — 18 months after he got out of San Quentin — through the end of his life (Feb 4th, 1968).  Although they spent a lot of time with Allen Ginsberg, and met Jack Kerouac in Northport in 1963 (and she remains one of the last living people who actually met Kerouac), these years were most notable for Neal teaming up with Ken Kesey, hanging with both the Merry Pranksters and the Grateful Dead, and being part of the Acid Tests, which Anne describes as “one gigantic continuous high.”  She called Neal “the psychedelic rapster,” and they were so involved they are actually listed in the program for the historic Trips Festival at the Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco in January 1966.

Those of us inspired by those formative psychedelic years can still look forward to George Walker and Mountain Girl‘s memoirs — both of whom are great writers with vivid memories — but neither spent as much time with the person so central to the counterculture movements of both the 1950s and ’60s.

I first read this manuscript when I was living with Carolyn Cassady in England in 2012 and was riveted and jaw-dropped by its frankness and honesty.

Many appreciators of the Beat writers salivate over every new publication of their raw notebooks;  and those inclined towards the Acid Tests enjoy an imperfect looseness in their art.  This book, as published, by happenstance and good fortune, is a beautifully raw creation — perfectly reflecting the times, artists and artistry it brings to life.

Originally written in the 1990s, author Anne tried to get it published on & off ever since — and readers can be grateful it didn’t get picked up by one of the big publishing houses because they would have cleaned it up and sanitized it.  This is not air-brushed history — this is gushing confessional herstory.

Fortunately there’s a devoted cadre of Beat scholars seeing to it that this foundational work is being preserved and brought to new audiences.  Jerry Cimino and Brandon Loberg at The Beat Museum have been doing God’s work for decades sharing all things Beat with ever-evolving new generations.  David Wills has been publishing scores of important books and magazines through his Beatdom imprint.  Peter Hale updates the world on Allen Ginsberg’s connections to contemporary culture in weekly dispatches.  Charles Shuttleworth put years of work into bringing Kerouac’s Desolation Angels notebooks to life.  And Daniel Yaryan has been staging live shows and printing books and magazines under his “Sparring With Beatnik Ghosts” banner since 2008. 

Luckily for all of us, Daniel developed a relationship with the effervescent Anne, who’s still alive at 92, and still living in central California where all these adventures took place.

Here’s where it gets really serendipitous:  by the early 2000s, when Anne made another push to get the book published, she realized she’d lost the floppy disk that the manuscript was written on.  All that existed were print-outs, a copy of which I read at Carolyn’s.  If somebody other than Daniel had published it, they would have retyped it, cleaned up all the little typos and sold it as a regular book.  But this Daniel guy has a real visual sense, praise the Lord!  So, when he set about fulfilling Anne’s decades-long dream of having her memoir published, not only did he not retype it, but he printed the actual manuscript!  And not just any copy, he chose the one with Carolyn’s suggestions in the margins!

Then on top of that, just as Neal’s wife was a visual artist, so too was Anne!  The book includes a bunch of her sketches of her famous squeeze as well as a portrait of Carolyn.  Plus, the visual artist publisher created a bunch of collages and added photos reflecting and illuminating the subject matter.  The love poured into this publication is obvious on every page — a beautifully laid out memoir-meets-scrapbook of prosaic and visual delights.  He calls them “graphic intensifiers.”

Thus – harmonic to both the Beat and Prankster spirit, this book is a swirling collage of images and stories reminiscent of Kesey’s Jail Journal or Garage Sale or Arthur & Kit Knight’s invaluable Beat books — and like them is printed in the same large 8½ x 11 format.

And then there’s the sex

Neal Cassady was best known for his prowess in three things — words, women and wheels.  His words have been published in the Joan Anderson Letter, the Neal Cassady Collected Letters, and The First Third (which Anne helped type up).  And there’s plenty of descriptions of him driving.  But there’s never been a firsthand account of him driving a woman wild.  Jack’s, Carolyn’s and the Kesey/Babbs Spit In The Ocean Cassady books were all pretty PG.  The sex is always implied … not described.  Until now.

After reading the first hundred pages about her unabashed passion for passion, she starts to describe the famous Hell’s Angels party at Kesey’s place in La Honda.  For those who’ve read Hunter Thompson’s Hell’s Angels and/or Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test there’s a memorable scene describing a Hell’s Angels gangbang in a back cabin at Kesey’s that night.  As soon as I read the first sentence about her being there, I was like — “No! … don’t tell me!! . . . ”  And sure enough — it was Anne!

The renown astrologer and sexology author Gavin Arthur, who was close friends with both the Cassady family and Anne, diagnosed her as “hyper-hetero” and “a promiscuous nymphomaniac” — something Anne not only doesn’t dispute but celebrates.  She writes at one point, “I lived for acid and orgasms.”

Wolfe & Thompson are two of the most acclaimed authors of last half-century, but now, finally, the world can read about the event they both described … from the woman’s perspective!

And that connects to one of the best aspects of this book — that it’s honest and open and raw — and from a woman’s point of view!

For a literary movement once thought to be the province of men, Anne’s antics can now be properly placed on the ever-expanding Beat Women’s shelf along with Carolyn’s Off The Road, Edie Kerouac’s You’ll Be Okay, Joyce Johnson’s award-winning Minor Characters, the Lu Anne Henderson interview book One and Only, Jack’s wife Joan Haverty’s Nobody’s Wife, Helen Weaver’s The Awakener, Diane Di Prima’s Memoirs of a Beatnik, and of course How I Became Hettie Jones

And Anne couldn’t be happier!

And speaking of happy & healthy women, running through this whole book from the first words of the opening Acknowledgments to the final Afterword, Carolyn Cassady is a gracious, forgiving, empathetic, kind and wise mother figure to her husband’s girlfriend.  Not only during the relationship, but over all the many decades afterwards, Carolyn remained a supportive friend to Anne, including helping her with this very book.

photo by Allen Ginsberg of the Cassady family in 1965
the two people with the biggest smiles are Carolyn & Anne (at the end)

These were the two women who had the longest-running relationships in Neal’s life, and they both knew they were in love with a cad.  Both their books both praise and demythologize Neal.

I once asked Carolyn if she was ever in love with a man the way she was with Neal, and in her late 80s it was an instant and emphatic “no.”  And decades after his passing, Anne reflects, “I never met another human being with Neal’s charisma and power.”

Besides inclusion on the Beat Women’s shelf, this book can now forever join On The Road, Visions of Cody and the Kesey/Babbs Spit In The Ocean Cassady issue as the most vivid firsthand portraits of an enigma who found himself driving Kerouac’s car and Kesey’s bus into the pages of history … and women into the throes of ecstasy.


Neal & Anne at a Kesey event in Oakland in 1966, photo by Larry Keenan


You can order the book direct from the publisher here.


Allen & Neal interview in City Lights in 1965 with Anne by his side


Neal at the wheel with Anne comfortably close, 1963, photos by Allen



Here are the books of my Beat Trilogy —

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac about first meeting a bunch of these characters at the historic 1982 Kerouac Conference in Boulder, plus a side-trip to the Grateful Dead at Red Rocks.

How The Beats Begat The Pranksters including George Walker’s description of how Cassady met Kesey at Perry Lane; hanging with Phil Lesh; On The Road movie premiers in London, Toronto & New York; and acid tests with the modern day Pranksters.

On The Road with Cassadys & Furthur Visions about adventures with Carolyn and son John; plus the shows for the 50th anniversary of Jack writing On The Road; and pieces about the Grateful Dead, the Power of The Collective and the transformational decade from 1945 to ’55.

Here’s a sample portrait from Hitchhiker’s of Jack’s first wife, Edie Kerouac Parker, and their mutual friend Henri Cru.

Or here’s a great story about Jack’s second wife Joan Haverty and Bill Cannastra’s loft where they met.


Here’s a funny light-beaming tribute I riffed to Carolyn for her memorial . . . 


Here’s the killer “Jack on Film” show at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in 2023 featuring clips & conversation about 17 different portrayals of the author on film or TV . . .


Here’s the “Jack at 100” show at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in honor of the man’s 100th birthday . . .


Here’s a great piece on The Power of The Collective from The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats performed at a collaborative festival on Long Island . . .



by Brian Hassett   —

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15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gloria Merriam // May 4, 2024 at 8:08 PM

    In 1967, I lived with Neal and Annie for two months in a palapa south of Puerto Vallarta. Many tales to tell…with George Walker, Zonker and assorted visitors.
    What’s the best way to get a copy?

  • 2 Brian Hassett // May 4, 2024 at 9:17 PM

    Hey Gloria! You and George should collaborate on a memory of that time!

    Here’s where you can get Anne Murphy’s book — direct from the publisher . . .

  • 3 Gloria Merriam // May 4, 2024 at 10:21 PM

    Brian — Yes George and I did that years ago when he had a voice recorder that could also transcribe.

  • 4 George Walker // May 5, 2024 at 12:58 PM

    I just got a copy in the mail, read it today.
    I have a mixed reaction. I see a number of factual inaccuracies, which is not surprising in view of the drugs and madness that prevailed. I’m not very fond of the emphasis on all the sexuality, but that’s a pretty accurate depiction of her relationship with Neal. That said, I find it to be quite evocative of the nature of that relationship and the times. I was fascinated by her descriptions of their psychic connection which I find more interesting than all the details of their physical relationship. All in all, it’s a pretty good telling of an interesting aspect of Neal’s life in his last few years and the way he influenced all of us.

    It’s kind of a raw, unedited manuscript full of proofreading notes but quite well written, indicating Anne’s intelligence and education, as well as her unique perceptions. While not a polished, finished product like most published books, it’s a good read. I recommend it for anyone who is interested in this aspect of Neal’s life and his relationships, a subjective perspective from the woman who was closest to him in his last few years.

    Thanks for providing this valued addition to my library!

  • 5 Brian Hassett // May 5, 2024 at 4:07 PM

    Yeah, George — There’s certainly a trade-off (an expression I remember Kesey using) between the rough manuscript versus a cleaned-up polished one. Since the latter is what we pretty much always get, I relish the rawness. And btw the notes in the margins are all by Carolyn’s hand.

    I agree it’s a good page-turning read, and certainly the most complete linear account of Neal’s life circa 1962-67.

  • 6 Molly Kesey-Thurman // May 5, 2024 at 7:47 PM

    My mom and dad were there.

  • 7 Brian Humniski // May 6, 2024 at 10:57 AM

    Fantastic news. I will be waiting in anticipation of the arrival of my copy of this treat. A version of the famous La Honda soiree from the voice of the party girl herself.

  • 8 William Hodgson // May 6, 2024 at 1:42 PM

    Thanks for the head’s up! I shall be ordering my own copy asap!

  • 9 David Michael Rich // May 6, 2024 at 8:51 PM

    Thank you for this! Ordered. Can’t wait to read it.

  • 10 Steve Porter // May 6, 2024 at 10:31 PM

    Been waiting for this!

  • 11 Garland Hewlett // May 7, 2024 at 9:50 AM

    Looking forward to reading it!

  • 12 Jami Cassady Ratto // May 15, 2024 at 3:46 PM

    It’s an historical memoir and should be published, which I was going to do. With no heads-up or correspondence I was not aware.
    Even now, no one is answering me.Ann is in a rest home and has dementia. How could she possibly know what’s going on. I visit her often. Yes, she’s happy, she has dementia.

  • 13 Brian Hassett // May 16, 2024 at 3:51 AM

    Hey Jami!
    When were you going to get the memoir published? The manuscript’s been in existence for 30 years. You could have been the point person on it, but you never did it. Thank God somebody did it while she was still alive to see it.

  • 14 Jami Cassady Ratto // May 16, 2024 at 1:12 PM

    Brian! Yes, the memoir has been around awhile, that’s why so many people had copies. Ann had promised mom it would not be published while mom was alive. Why didn’t you publish it? In her dementia state of mind, I doubt she even cares about it being published “while she is still alive”. Did she get an advance? Where do the royalties go?

  • 15 Brian Hassett // May 16, 2024 at 4:20 PM

    Hey J! I couldn’t see to its publication since I had no relationship with her as you did. It’s too bad in all the years when she was fully healthy between Carolyn’s passing and now that it never came out.

    On the front credits page it says — “All profits from this book will be donated to the Female Voices and Youth Voices Project in honor of Anne Marie Maxwell.”

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