Wednesday, February 13, 2008

beat novel written by Karl Marx

Mike Hennessey was browsing used books and came across John Clellon Holmes' 1952 novel - sometimes said to be the "first Beat novel" - Go, opened it up and found graffiti scrawled by someone - presumably a young man - named Brian Zimmerman. Perhaps Brian was required to read Go in high school? "What Would Patton Say?" he asks (rhetorically) in one outburst. At right is a close-up; below, at left, you can see the title page as Brian, incensed by the obviously communist propaganda, has written over and through it.

Unlike Brian, the novel says: "I actually yearn for life to be easy, magic, full of love."

And elsewhere: "You know what I just dreamed? I dreamed about everybody I know.... I honestly never realized how many people I know. Too many goddamn people. You know what I mean?"

O Brian, dream such a dream.

It was to Holmes that Kerouac once said, "You know, this is really a beat generation." Jack in turn had gotten the term from Herbert Huncke.

In 1958 Holmes published The Horn, which is considered by many to be the definitive jazz novel of the beats.

I've written about Holmes here before.