Beatitude, Larry Closs - Rebel Satori Press, 2011
"It arrives when you least expect it, in ways you never imagine, from a place you never thought it could come... And though it may not be what you hoped it would be... to accept it for what it is, and for what it isn't... is the greatest gift of a good heart."
Harry Charity, a writer at Element, an arts and culture magazine in New York City, has a bad habit of falling in love with the wrong people. Burned one too many times, he is withdrawn, wary, and unwilling to risk love again... until Jay is hired in Element's art department. Harry feels an instant attraction, and the two men discover their mutual love of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and the rest of the beat writers and poets.
The men develop a fast and exhilarating friendship, going to lunch together every day, exploring bookstores to search for first editions of Kerouac's On the Road, attending poetry readings in the hopes of meeting Allen Ginsberg. But Harry awkwardly finds himself in a confusing and ambiguous triangle with Jay and his girlfriend Zahra. Harry navigates this relationship clumsily, and needily - but so generously and sincerely, one begins to wonder if there could be any bigger heart than Harry's. When Harry finally scores an interview with the poet Allen Ginsberg, their conversation turns to love and friendship, and Harry finds the wisdom he needs to make sense of his relationship with Jay.
I very much enjoyed reading this touching exploration of an imbalanced friendship/unrequited romance, and while it is not a happy ending in the romantic sense of "happily ever after," it is a happy ending in that it celebrates love however it comes. I must confess more than once during the novel, I wished I could give Harry a good prod, push him out into the world, introduce him to a few new friends, help him find a new hobby, and move on from the waffling Jay. (Really Har, you can do better! But I also suspect that just beyond the ending of novel, you already are).
The added element of the Beat writers was also fun- I learned a few interesting new tidbits about Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, et. al. Beatitude even includes two previously unpublished Ginsberg poems.
Overall, I found Beatitude to be a warm, uplifting and hopeful story, recommended for contemplative readers who enjoy a thoughtful story infused with the spirit of the Beat generation.
(Many moons ago I saw Allen Ginsberg read, and have a very vivid memory of the powerful anti-war poem Hum Bomb! - found this little clip of him reading it in a club in London in 1995 - a few years after I saw him. Enjoy!)