First Edition of John Clellon Holmes' Get Home Free; Inscribed by Him
Get Home Free.
Clellon Holmes, John .$650.00
Item Number: 71478
New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc, 1964.
First edition of Clellon Holmes’ third novel. Octavo, original cloth. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, “May 1976 For Burt Britton- with appreciation- John Clellon Holmes.” Fine in a near fine dust jacket. Jacket design by Paul Bacon.
Five years before Kerouac's On the Road, Holmes's novel Go introduced the kind of lives and themes that later would be called Beat. Get Home Free, first published in 1964, 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.