Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beatitude by Larry Closs: A Review

I just finished Beatitude by Larry Closs. Here is the description from Amazon, where you can buy a copy:
New York City, 1995: Harry Charity is a sensitive young loner haunted by a disastrous affair when he meets Jay Bishop, an outgoing poet and former Marine. Propelled by a shared fascination with the unfettered lives of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation, the two are irresistibly drawn together, even as Jay's girlfriend, Zahra, senses something deeper developing.    
Reveling in their discovery of the legendary scroll manuscript of Kerouac's On the Road in the vaults of the New York Public Library, Harry and Jay embark on a nicotine-and-caffeine-fueled journey into New York's smoky jazz joints, dusty rare-book shops and thriving poetry scene of slams and open-mike nights. 
An encounter with "Howl" poet Allen Ginsberg shatters their notions of what it means to be Beat but ultimately and unexpectedly leads them into their own hearts where they're forced to confront the same questions that confounded their heroes: What do you do when you fall for someone who can't fall for you? What do you do when you're the object of affection? What must you each give up to keep the other in your life? Beatitude features two previously unpublished poems by Allen Ginsberg.
I liked this novel a lot, and for a couple of reasons. First, it is well-written. Closs demonstrates a clear command of narration, dialogue, and detail. As a result, the story is both believable and engaging. Second, Closs skillfully weaves together a modern love story with a Beat Generation subplot, and it works. Along the way, we learn some things about human nature as well.

If you're a Kerouac fan, or a Beat Generation fan in general, and you're looking for your next modern novel, I highly recommend Beatitude by Larry Closs.

One bellwether for a good read is that it inspires you to do even more reading (or writing). As soon as I finished Beatitude, I wanted to keep reading and I was still hungry for a beat love story. So, as you can see by the sidebar, I am now starting Maggie Cassidy by Jack Kerouac. It's one of the only Kerouac novels I haven't yet read. Thanks for the inspiration, Larry!

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