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Go: A Novel [John Clellon Holmes] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Generally acknowledged to be the first Beat novel, go was originally. Go by John Clellon Holmes – book cover, description, publication history. Go, by John Clellon Holmes, is the first novel published by a member of the so- called Beat Generation of the s in the United States. The years immediately .

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Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Go by John Clellon Holmes. Go by John Clellon Holmes. The novel that launched the beat generation’s literary legacy describes the world of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Neil Cassady. Published two months before Kerouac began On the Road, Go is the first and most accurate chronicle of the private lives the Beats lived before they became public figures.

In lucid fictional prose designed to capture the events, emptions and es The novel that launched the beat generation’s literary legacy describes the world of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Neil Cassady. In lucid fictional prose designed to capture the events, emptions and essence of his experience, Holmes describes an individualistic post-World II New York where crime is celebrated, writing is revered, and parties, booze, discussions, drugs and sex punctuate life.

Paperbackpages. Published March 30th by Penguin Modern Classics first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about Goplease sign up. Why does the description of this book spend so much of it’s tone being bitter about not being considered as important as other works from the Beats?

It comes off like one of Corso’s drunken rants about how he was cheated out of being more famous than Ginsberg or Kerouac or Burroughs. Sean Carlos This answer contains spoilers… view spoiler [ Bitterness is common to the beats. They attempted to catch fire in a bottle but when the bottle was opened A lost generation …more Bitterness is common to the beats. A lost generation indeed. They certainly acted like one. Spoiled brats with empty vapor on their minds. And they thought themselves so profound.

Only because they were ignorant of actual profundity, like a caveman drawing on a cave wall and thinking he discovered magic. You were more interesting as living people than the characters in your fever-dream books. Even this book is overrated, but it can be mildly entertaining in an endearingly pretentious way. I never actually read the book, or any book by the beats.

I’m simply regurgitating stereotypes, but they are spot on stereotypes, I guarantee. I don’t have to remember the past to avoid repeating it. All I have to do is avoid its failed ideas. That starts with avoiding amphetamines and the entire beat generation. Lists with This Book. Jan 18, Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it Shelves: Most people believe that On the Road is the first fictional portrayal of the Beat Generation.

Go was published infive years before On The Road. It is an old fashioned sort of novel, in spite of its subject matter, an odd amalgam of the social chronicles of Balzac and the mad mystical dialogues of Dostoevsky.

Both the narrator and the author are somehow detached from the life around him, and this detachment itself becomes one of the themes of the book. Is art essentially reflective or ecstatic? Does the poet say to himself “come, stay” in this moment, explore its meaning? Or does he become the moment, shouting “go, go, go”‘ like a hipster digging a “real gone”sax solo, until life itself comes to a stop? The two personalities that come most vividly to life are those of Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg.

Hart Kennedy Cassady is not the romantic, almost mystical figure that he is in Kerouac, but rather a transparent sociopath, subject to fits of violence particularly against womenusing his philosophy of being in the moment as a cloak for criminal and irresponsible behavior. It is David Stofsky Ginsbergthough, who is the most memorable: This is by no means a great novel, but everyone interested in the Beat Generation should read it.


It balances the ecstatic visions of Kerouac and Ginsberg with the observations of a clinical middle-class eye. Holmes gives us a more realistic, less romantic, vision of the Beats, and this helps us put this generation of poets in perspective. Holmes is especially good when he is describing bars, after-hours joints, and marijuana parties. To conclude, I give you this description of the end of one of the latter: The lights were out, an all-night bop program hummed out of the radio, and a single candle made a quivering finger of light upon the table.

The room seemed full of dusky subsidings, a shambles of butts, strewn glasses and books, the sad mementos of a carouse that had swept on elsewhere. Nov 28, Stephen Hayes rated it it was amazing Shelves: Go is generally regarded as the first novel of the Beat Generation, written between andand first published innearly sixty years ago. I first read it when I was 20, fifty years ago, and rereading it after all that time is a rather strange experience. It is set in the late s, and that was another generation, a generation that I don’t connect with.

They are the people who came home from the war, whom I used to meet in bars around Durban, those boozy old men. In I used to Go is generally regarded as the first novel of the Beat Generation, written between andand first published innearly sixty years ago.

Go: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

In I used to go for lunch at the Grosvenor Hotel in Soldiers Way across the road from Durban station and sip my solitary beer and eat my 15c curry for lunch, and hear them talking about Smiler Small, who used to frequent the bar in Malvern, and I used to look at all the World War II memorabilia decorating the bar.

It never occurred to me that those people, who frequented bars like that, were the Beat Generation, and yet they were. Jack Kerouac was the same age as my father-in-law, who occasionally used to go drinking at the Malvern Hotel. Yet it was only ten years later, in that I was reading their books, envying their life, and wondering if had really happened the way John Clellon Holmes and Jack Kerouac described it. But they are the generation I associate with alien things like Frank Sinatra, and males in suits and hats, and women wearing lipstick and nylon stockings, and people trying to get back on their feet after the war.

John Clellon Holmes Book Covers

So reading Go is very strange. It was only 20 years cleolonyet is now forty years ago. And the Durban station is no holmrs there, and Soldiers Way is probably called something else, and if the Grosvenor Hotel is still there it too is probably called something else now. But then I remember that I too was like that, even when longing to be like that and thinking it must be different somehow, and somehow more exciting.

But it only sounded more exciting than the lives we lived in the s.

We too experienced that restless rushing around in the, rushing to Meadowlands to see Cyprian Moloi, or to Springs to see Noel Lebenya, travelling many miles to see if a holmed was home, and finding that they were out, travelling many more liles to see another.

Not as many boozy parties, and no one was writing a book, but perhaps our conversations were even more intelligent, even when we smoked pot, clellon was rare.

Go: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

And that was only fifteen years after it all happened in Holmes’s book. Fifty years ago somehow seems quite close to the present, yet ten years earlier, when Holmes wrote, seems another world, another eon, another universe. In the sixties Holmes’s world of New York seemed like some magic golden age, and looking back from now to the sixties, golmes seems like the real golden age.


The times Holmes wrote clelloj, I realise now, were different, not just because it was another generation, but another world and worldview.

Go by John Clellon Holmes

joohn And rereading it fifty years later, I see ggo Holmes actually tried to create the new vision that made us look back on his world with rose-tinted spectacles. What he longed for became part of our vision. The essence of the book is summed up in the dream of one of the characters, Stofsky a thinly-diguised version of the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Stofsky dreams that he meets God, in a rather shabby dusty room, sitting on a very shabby throne, and God tells him to “Go, and love without the help of any Thing on earth.

It was a kind of presupposition. It was the presupposition with which I read Fo the first time. And so it all seemed rather wonderful, transported out of its time and place into some kind of beautiful timeless realm.

I could not imagine them as part of the same world as the suits and hats and nylon stockings. But rereading it fifty years later, I see it in a very different perspective. Another of the characters in GoPaul Hobbes who represents Holmes himself doesn’t have dreams and visions like Stofsky, but gradually comes to realise that their values and their life of endless boozy partying are rather shallow. He thinks of his friends, including one who had died, and wonders if anyone had actually loved them.

And it is in this seeting of lovelessness, hopelessness, selfishness and despair that God appears to Stofky in a dream and says “Go, and love without the help of any Thing on earth.

This is virtually all true and the portraits here of the big three Ginsberg, Kerouac and Cassady are great to see.

Ginsberg, especially, gets a starring role in this, as compared to On the Road, where he plays second fiddle. We get to see his real caring nature, his eclectic personality, and his devilish playfulness, including instigating multiple conflicts based on his psychological insightful challenges toward his friends. Amazingly, Cassady comes off nearly the same person as Ker Excellent!

Amazingly, Cassady comes off nearly the same person as Kerouac’s version, especially his dialogue, phrases, intonations and mannerisms, but in this novel I glimpsed more of his penchant for causing damage, rather than inspiration. Bonus, we get the live-action scene of Cassady breaking his thumb I think it’s only the aftermath in OTR, and I don’t recall it at all in the Scrollwhich in some strange way is a bit touching, even though he breaks it on his girl’s forehead.

I felt both his psycho qualities and I also felt some pity for him. And for Kerouac, we get to see him jonn an hour after he’s informed of his first book contract – it’s like witnessing history, and ironically and truly Holmes’ character learns the fate of his first book in the very same hour.

This got better and better and holmrs finish is amazing. Towards the end we get to see the events that caused Ginsberg to get arrested, and soon after there is some pretty good holmea involving a sort of cleaning up of a crime scene, essentially.

Later there’s a shock of unexpected tragedy, then more totally unexpected comedy in the shadow of death, and next, tears were flowing, all within a few pages. The novel is about this group of friends who have mostly lost hope, yet are trying in all sorts of ways to cope, or find some meaning, whether intellectually, spiritually, artistically, or by drowning their feelings and just getting kicks in their booze, drugs and crime.