A novel of New York today, Go deals with a group of young people whose lives are frenetic and even violent. Because they want passionately to believe in something and cannot find it, they create strange illusions to live by, and they are driven by a craving for excess. Their long nights involve liquor and marijuana, with the beat of bebop in the background, and they drift close to the fringes of the underworld. But these young people are neither callous nor criminal. They have talent, they seek belief; and they want to love.
“A score of important characters emerge from the fully developed novel. Central in the story stand Paul Hobbes and his wife whose struggle to sustain their marriage Mr. Holmes makes poignantly moving. Theirs is a closely knit world, for all its bizarre incident. It is made up of Stofsky, poet, mystic, disciple of Blake—a characterization of extraordinary freshness and appeal; of Agatson, violently determined to accomplish his own ruin; of Hart Kennedy, restless and inexhaustible, a man who lives by bebop rhythm; of Ancke, the cocaine addict, and Verger, student of theology; these and many more. Mr. Holmes graphically describes their course from Third Avenue to Broadway to the Village, but Go is no mere documentary. It has depth as well as a vivid surface; its characters have intellectual substance. Paul Hobbes come to understand, at last, that spiritual impoverishment leads inevitably to the death of hope, that here lies the root tragedy of them all.
“Because of the insight and power that Clellon Holmes has brought to bear in Go, its unordinary world is lifted to general importance.”