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The Magic of Words

The Magic of Words

(p.16) Chapter 2 The Magic of Words
Ann ChartersSamuel Charters
University Press of Mississippi

Like the rest of American society, the families of Jack Kerouac and John Clellon Holmes were deeply affected by the Depression. Holmes’s family left their home in Englewood, New Jersey in the summer of 1935 and moved to Plymouth, New Hampshire. Holmes’ most important memory of Plymouth, which he shared with Kerouac, was the flood of 1936, when the Pemagawassett River overflowed. When Holmes’s father lost his job in New Hampshire, the family returned to Englewood. Holmes’s life abruptly changed when the United States entered World War II on December 7, 1941, in response to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Holmes’s parents ended their marriage and his father found employment in Washington, D.C., as a lobbyist. In the summer of 1942, at the age of sixteen, Holmes also “started leaving home.” “Leaving home” would later become a theme in the novels of both Holmes and Kerouac. As aspiring writers, their diaries were their first apprenticeship.

Keywords:   diaries, Jack Kerouac, John Clellon Holmes, Depression, New Jersey, New Hampshire, leaving home, novels

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