Get Home Free

John Clellon Holmes, Author Thunder's Mouth Press $8.95 (253p) ISBN 978-0-938410-52-2
Five years before Kerouac's On the Road, Holmes's novel Go (1952) introduced the kind of lives and themes that later would be called Beat. Get Home Free, first published in 1964 and long out of print, also portrays the desperate and dissipated youth that congregated in New York City in the '50s. The novel takes its title from the child's game of kick-the-can, where players scurry back to home base; only here, the participants are existentialist adults. Bohemians Dan Verger and May Delano break up and, in separate sections, we follow them on visits home, Dan to the Connecticut shore ``to come to terms with a stalled life,'' and May to Louisiana, where she confronts her past as a Southern belle. Dan and May gain self-confidence, and, eventually calmer, more sober, they both return to New York determined to forge ahead. In Holmes's world, where ``even the hopelessness becomes curiously moving,'' May and Dan succeed by recognizing that their talky search for all the answers about love and their times, initially inspiring, has become tiring and even deadly; they shut up and just live. Infused with the characteristic Beat rawness, at times the novel is painful to read. It also often crackles with social observations that still speak true today, and there are many fine set pieces that evoke the splendor of rural life and the angst of the urban. This honest, powerful book has the air of the epic and carries it well. Holmes died on March 30. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 253 pages - 978-0-938410-53-9
Ebook - 253 pages - 978-1-5040-2230-9
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