Brother-SoulsJohn Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac, and the Beat Generation

Brother-SoulsJohn Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac, and the Beat Generation

Ann Charters and Samuel Charters

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781604735796

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

John Clellon Holmes met Jack Kerouac on a hot New York City weekend in 1948, and until the end of Kerouac’s life they were—in Holmes’s words—“Brother-Souls.” Both were neophyte novelists, hungry for literary fame but just as hungry to find a new way of responding to their experiences in a postwar American society that for them had lost its direction. Late one night as they sat talking, Kerouac spontaneously created the term “Beat Generation” to describe this new attitude they felt stirring around them. This book is the chronicle of this cornerstone friendship and Holmes’s life. From 1948 to 1951, when Kerouac’s wanderings took him back to New York, he and Holmes met almost daily. Struggling to find a form for the novel he intended to write, Kerouac climbed the stairs to the apartment in midtown Manhattan where Holmes lived with his wife, to read the pages of Holmes’s manuscript for the novel Go as they left the typewriter. With the pages of Holmes’s final chapter still in his mind, he was at last able to crack his own writing dilemma. In a burst of creation in April 1951 he drew all the materials he had been gathering into the scroll manuscript of On the Road, the author of which was close to Holmes for more than a decade.