Saturday, December 10, 2011
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended
Publisher: Rebel Satori Press
No, no no. Don't worry. I didn't suddenly turn all religious on you. I promise! This isn't a story about the Beatitudes. Rather, it's the story of two up and coming NYC magazine employees who share a mutual obsession with the Beat Generation. It's quite the clever title, actually, because it perfectly marries the story's two interlocking parts. "Beatitude" is synonymous with happiness and blissfulness, the state in which our leading men find themselves, time and time again, throughout the novel. It is also author Larry Closs's way of defining those who model the Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Cassady way of life - a sort of Beat-attitude, if you will.
You see, Harry - recently crushed by a relationship gone bad - first lays eyes on Jay as he interviews with the magazine for a position in the Arts department. Days later, after they introduce themselves, they discover their shared love of all things Kerouac... and an immediate friendship is kindled. For Harry, it feels like he has met his soul mate and soon the duo are near-inseparable.
Harry uses his position at NYC's Element Magazine to snag review copies of Kerouac's books, DVD's and Audiobooks under the guise of an article he is writing on the resurgence of the Beat Generation, and gifts them to his new BFF, who gladly accepts. They take long lunch breaks together, talking endlessly about The Beats. They attend Beat poetry readings together. They convince the New York Public Library to allow them to view Kerouac's rumored Scroll Manuscript. They are inspired to purchase typewriters and co-author a novel.
Meanwhile, Jay's girlfriend Zahra sees beyond the puppy-dog love and realizes Harry's true intentions for Jay. And when Jay suddenly finds himself in the middle of a tug-of-war for his affection and backs away from Harry, Harry resolves to do whatever it takes to get him back... even if it means pretending he's no longer in love with him.
Beatitude demonstrates Larry Closs's sensitivity to the inner turmoils of love, and also showcases his own love of The Beat Generation. He subtly introduces those of us (no judging now!) who've never read Burrough's Naked Lunch or Kerouac's On the Road or Ginsberg's Howl to the Beat lifestyle while weaving it's influences through Harry and Jay's relationship. Making no assumptions, Closs brings readers like me, with no prior experience or exposure to The Beat writers, up to speed so we can clearly see the parallels he makes between Harry, Jay and Zahra and Kerouac, Cassady, and Ginsberg.
Unrequited, uneven love is the gear around which the rest of this novel turns. It's not only the heart of this story though, because it's at the core of every human being's body as well, isn't it? How many times have we fallen hard and fast for someone who simply does not feel the same.. cannot give back what we are putting in.. who is unable to feel more than a deep friendship while we are spinning down a depressive spiral of unreciprocated love? Or falling for someone who is already in a relationship and finding ourselves in the dreaded position of "third wheel", convincing ourselves that we'd rather stuff our unmatched love deep down and pretend we're cool just being friends because pretending not to love someone is better than not having them in our lives, and who knows... maybe they'll come around eventually?
Beatitude, simply put, is an exceptionally well written debut that explores love in all its varied forms, dissecting what it is to love.
Check out the book trailer: