Happy 88th Birthday to the Quiet Beat!

12 Mar


John Clellon Holmes is the friend Jack Kerouac was talking to when he coined the phrase “Beat Generation.” Holmes actually found success more quickly than Kerouac did in writing about the scene when he published Go in 1952. The writing style is vastly different than Kerouac’s, as it takes a much more traditional approach to novel writing, but it is fantastic! Go is one of my favorite books of the so-called Beat canon. Holmes does a fantastic job bringing all the familiar characters — Gene Pasternak as Kerouac, Hart Kennedy as Neal Cassady, David Stofsky as Allen Ginsberg, Will Dennison as William S. Burroughs, and so forth — to life as he explores hipsters partying it up in New York City. Dare I say his descriptions of the 1940s party scene are more memorable to me than Kerouac’s?!

Holmes was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on this day in 1926. Celebrate his life and work by reading Go!



3 Responses to “Happy 88th Birthday to the Quiet Beat!”

  1. J Haeske March 17, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    I agree, Stephanie, I like it a lot too. Although it’s been quite a while since I read it. So I can’t comment on the party scene question it the moment. Maybe I should read it again. That’s a lovely cover – which edition is that? J

    • Stephanie Nikolopoulos March 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

      It’s the cover of the first printing from Scribner’s in 1952. It has the same sort of abstract feel as the Penguin first edition of Kerouac’s “On the Road,” I think.


  1. Before the Beats, Rimbaud Had a “Bohemian Life” | Stephanie Nikolopoulos - April 17, 2014

    […] the term “Beat Generation” during a conversation on the Lost Generation with fellow writer John Clellon Holmes, before he went on the road and lived a bohemian life, he attended (and dropped out of) Columbia […]

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