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Go: A Novel Paperback – September 5, 2002


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Go: A Novel + The Portable Beat Reader (Penguin Classics) + Naked Lunch
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press; Reprint edition (September 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560254246
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560254249
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Clellon Holmes (1926-1988) was an essayist, poet, and novelist; and was a "sometime member" of the Beat Generation. He published GO in 1952; The Horn, a novel about jazz, would follow in 1958, and Get Home Free, depicting the later fate of two characters from Go, would appear in 1964. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on November 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Go," generally acknoweldged as the first of the Beat Generation novels, was Holmes' first novel and it shows many of the typical flaws of the first major work of a talented artist. The tone is incosistent, the plot tends to wander, and the first half the book has a tendency to drag. That said, "Go" is still a worthwhile novel. Much as his friend Jack Kerouac would later do, Holmes essentially records his life as an aspiring writer living on the fringes of the postwar New York underground. Under various aliases, such familiar characters as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady wander through the book. In its loose, episodic fashion, "Go" tells the story of a young writer who, while desperately trying to complete his first novel, watches his friends and wife dance through a decadent society, fueled by their own desire to say something original in a world that seems to fear and despise anything less than the purely conventional. Its a familiar plot but Holmes truly manages to capture both the excitement and the fear that goes with being both young and undiscovered. This a book that will be easily understood by anyone who has ever been convinced that they, for whatever reason, have been blessed with the ability to see both the beauties and the horrors of modern life that the rest of the world seems to safely ignore. As well, the book serves as a sad lament for both the promise and the ultimate fate of the original members of the Beat Generation. Though Holmes couldn't have realized it at the time, some of the book's most powerful scenes comes from having the knowledge of the ignominous fates that await characters like Gene Pasternak (Jack Kerouac) and Hart Kennedy (Neal Cassady) once they find the success that they are so desperately seeking.Read more ›
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By MyComa on April 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Holmes is generally considered to be a Beat novelist, but that label creates unfair expectations for those who have not read his work. In truth, Holmes' writing is a narrow bridge between writer's of the 30's and early 40's and the Beats. His style is reminiscent of Thomas Wolfe to an extreme--something Kerouac was guilty of in 'The Town and the City.' The problem with this novel is that Holmes wants so badly to chronicle the activities and attitudes of the Beats, but he can't pull it off stylistically. Kerouac's spontaneous prose was better suited for the subject matter and themes. This is why Kerouac, not Holmes, is generally considered the King of the Beats. Holmes' prose is dense with word illustrations and bland dialogue. Compare this with Kerouac's economy of words and beat-laiden dialogue, and you'll see why Kerouac's chronicles of the Beat Generation more fully capture the essence and spirit of the movement. If you truly enjoy Thomas Wolfe, you'll like Holmes. But if you're thinking 'Go' is anything like 'On the Road,' think again.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kerouac fan on January 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
An Extremely Important Book In The Beat Canon

We all know that Jack Kerouac was a more important writer than J C Holmes. More poetic, more rhythmic, more original, more driven by his passion, but was he more aware of the situation, and the relationships, and insightful? That's what I'm left wondering after returning to Holmes' book Go after I put it down 30 years ago, (I'm reading the 1959 British version The Beat Boys). I didn't finish it the first time, probably got less than a quarter of the way through it because it didn't seem to contain Kerouac's dream I found it too conventional, literate, dense with detail, dry?

Now having read all of the Kerouac canon and having searched volumes' of letters of such for further knowledge of The Beat Generation I happen back on Go and having a heavy bout of flu have the time to settle back by the fire with cat on lap and re-discover it - and by God it's all here, everything I ever wanted to know about the early days. You know how you wish you could have a time machine and travel back to be at a beat party in, say, 1949 and see Jack, and Neal, Luanne and Allen as they really were through the eyes of (yourself or) someone else - well now you can, it's incredible!

And not written in retrospect by someone putting the record straight or playing to an audience, satisfying a fandom, but Holmes is writing about them before he even knew that they would ever become famous (why?). Why would you do that? They must have been an extraordinary group of people or just I suppose living life in a wild way that didn't go on in the war years. Do you write books about your groups of friends? Documenting their every move? Yet Holmes does, and it's lucky for us he did. And the insight he shows on what those guys were like! Wow!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nick on July 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
A hard to find novel, and one I thought would be as entertaining as it is legendary. However, I found myself for much of the book wanting to put it down. It had at times, the trite voice of another young author putting too many words to too many pages. While it is a good chronicle of Beat life, illuminating more truth than perhaps On The Road might even. And perhaps thats it failure... it failed to gloss over too many blasie days and focus on the story... Id say... if you love the Beats, read it. But if yr looking to find out more about the Beats, read the more popular works and leave Go for later. Finally, if you do read it, and you find yr self dosing as often as I, skip to page 270. Assuming you know the Beats, Holmes story starts here.
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