Go: A Novel

Go: A Novel

John Clellon Holmes

Language: English

Pages: 344

ISBN: 1560254246

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The novel that launched the beat generation's literary legacy describes the world of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Neil Cassady. Drafted two months before Jack Kerouac began On The Road, Go is the first and most accurate chronicle of the private lives lived by the Beats before they became public figures. In honest, lucid fictional prose designed to capture the events, emotions, and essence of his experience among the Beats, Holmes describes an individualistic post–World War II New York where crime is celebrated, writing is revered, and parties, booze, discussions, drugs, and sex punctuate life. The most tentative and conservative of the Beats, Holmes's intelligent and sensitive voice also details the pressures and regrets that his lifestyle gave birth to. With portraits of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neil Cassady, William Burroughs, this first novel about the Beat Generation gives us a peek into what it meant to be a Beat before the term had ever been used. "... still one of the best novels about the Beat Generation ... brilliant and important."—The Los Angeles Free Press " I want to write to you about ... your book. You did the honest thing, the big thing, the good thing."—Jack Kerouac "Go signaled the start of something new in American literature. A generation with a new consciousness had found its voice..."—Ann Charters

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literal truth, sometimes a truth too literal to be poetically true, which is the only truth that matters in literature. Go is, in every way, a young man’s book. It was begun in August of 1949 when I was 23, and the last draft was completed in September of 1951 when I was a somewhat tougher 25. The two years of work at the typewriter were nothing but a continuation of the two years of experience that had preceded them. It is also a young writer’s book, full of solemn gaffs, technical

initiate. She listened to Hart’s frank sallies without a word, but eventually she became intrigued by his coquetry. And proving himself no ordinary hustler, he overcame her by slipping a stick of tea into her palm with a wink, at which she leaned closer and muttered something in his ear. Ketcham, Hobbes and Kathryn hurried off a past-midnight Times Square, that was blown with fragments of torn paper and echoes of muffled music, to a drugstore on Fiftieth Street and cups of sour coffee. Ketcham’s

up in Denver, didn’t I? We came all the way up from Tucson, just to pick you up, didn’t we?” “I never told you to pick me up! I thought I was finished with you. Sure, it was dull and nowhere up there and I jumped at the chance to get out, but that’s because I’d forgotten what it was like with you. But that certainly wasn’t your fault. Two years ago I didn’t guess I’d ever forget it … But you know we never really had anything together, surely I never did. There wasn’t even anything to talk about

bones and a mouth that was sensual and yet somehow melancholy. It was her mouth that created the expression of slight introversion that belied her usually aggressive manner. Hobbes always became agitated when she hurled herself into cleaning and straightening the minute she got home. He would say over and over again, night after night, “If you’d just sit down a moment, get yourself collected, you could work all night and not feel it.” Though often convinced that this was sensible, she never did

out: “No, but I mean I was thinking last night … well, about everything. Why should I get all hungup on writing and all that! Or you either for that matter. I’ve decided it’s really unnatural, biting your nails and writing books. What did I ever get out of it? Three years sitting up nights, scribbling, and being unmarried and mad! It isn’t real … But then you know all that.” He lapsed into a morose silence as though all further attempts on the inarticulateness between them would prove futile.

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