Beloved by both Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, Lu Anne Henderson’s story has never been told. Lu Anne was a beautiful 15-year-old girl in Denver in 1945 when she met Neal, a fast-talking hurricane of male sexuality and vast promises. The two married, and soon they were hanging out with a group of would-be writers, including Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. But Neal and Jack initially didn’t like each other very much. Lu Anne taught them how to love each other — in effect, making the Beat Generation possible, as well as giving Kerouac material for one of the seminal novels of the 20th century, On the Road. One and Only traces the immense struggles of Lu Anne’s own life, which ranged from the split-up of her family to the ravages of abusive men, lingering illness, and the grief of losing the two most important men in her life. Lu Anne Henderson did not live to see the filming of On the Road by Walter Salles, but One and Only tells how Twilight’s Kristen Stewart, through her work with both Nicosia and Anne Marie Santos (Lu Anne's daughter), came to find the key to playing Lu Anne in the film.
Other books on the beats have shown slight glimpses of Lu Anne Henderson, the one true love of Jack Kerouac s sidekick Neal Cassady, but none does it as candidly as this new insider account of the creative forces of the movement that rocked America in the late 1950s. This book, co-written by Kerouac biographer Nicosia (Memory Babe) and Henderson s daughter Santos, presents Henderson s recollections: meeting Cassady at age 15 in Denver (Cassady was four years older); soon becoming his wife before his trek to New York City with a stolen car. Interviewed shortly before her death, Henderson emerges as a clear-eyed sensualist, wise beyond her years, entirely up to the sometimes zany antics of Kerouac and Cassady s gang. Although she had a three-way sex session with Cassady and Allen Ginsberg, her kindest words are for the quiet, brooding literary genius Kerouac. Henderson also had a few snarky things to say about her rival, Carolyn, who later married Cassady. In the end, this bold, confidential look presents Henderson as a sturdy survivor in the bohemian movement, which evaporated swiftly but whose influence persists.