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John Clellon Holmes - book author

John Clellon Holmes, born in Holyoke Massachusetts, was an author, poet and professor, best known for his 1952 novel Go. Go is considered the first "Beat" novel, and depicted events in his life with friends Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg. He was often referred to as the "quiet Beat," and was one of Kerouac's closest friends. He also wrote what is considered the definitive jazz novel of the Beat Generation, The Horn.

Holmes was more an observer and documenter of beat characters like Ginsberg, Cassidy and Kerouac than one of them. He asked Ginsberg for "any and all information on your poetry and your visions" (shortly before Ginsberg's admission into hospital) saying that "I am interested in knowing also anything you may wish to tell... about Neal, Huncke, Lucien in relation to you..." (referring to Herbert Huncke and Lucien Carr), to which Ginsberg replied with an 11-page letter detailing, as completely as he could, the nature of his "divine vision".

The origin of the term beat being applied to a generation was conceived by Jack Kerouac who told Holmes "You know, this is really a Beat Generation." The term later became part of common parlance when Holmes published an article in The New York Times Magazine entitled "This Is the Beat Generation" on November 16, 1952 (pg.10). In the article Holmes attributes the term to Kerouac, who had acquired the idea from Herbert Huncke. Holmes came to the conclusion that the values and ambitions of the Beat Generation were symbolic of something bigger, which was the inspiration for Go.

Later in life, Holmes taught at the University of Arkansas, lectured at Yale and gave workshops at Brown University. He died of cancer in 1988, 18 days after his 62nd birthday.

John Clellon Holmes is the author of books: Go, The Horn, Get Home Free, Displaced Person: The Travel Essays, Visitor: Jack Kerouac in Old Saybrook, Gone in October, Passionate Opinions: The Cultural Essays, Night Music, Representative Men: The Biographical Essays, Nothing More to Declare

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Author Books

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Title
Description
01
Go
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 essence of his experience, 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.
02
John Clellon Holmes reflects on the history of jazz in this classic novel. Edgar Pool is "The Horn," the hero, and the man who helps change the face of American music. He becomes the legend whose triumphant and tragic career is reconstructed through the memories of his friends and lovers.
07
The third and final volume of collected essays by the distinguished writer and chronicler of the Beat Movement. From the jazz scene of New York in 1945 to the state of contemporary fiction in 1986, the essays tell the story of one of America's most vibrant, troubled eras--the post-war years.