Review: New novel’s Scroll goal

Larry Closs’ novel Beatitude, which came out in late 2011, is a sharp, smart novel with a human voice and some neat interweavings of memory and the present. Set in the recent past in a largely gay milieu in the media world of Manhattan, it avoids the usual posing or pretentiousness of fiction located in that hip, midtown mode. Rather, it is a story whose narrator has warmth and it is driven by a dialogue that is convincing and engaging. But the book is more than just a tale of quotidian romance in the upper storeys of a bejewelled urban isle – it also makes regular reference to the Beat Generation writers which drew me in still further.

It opens as Harry, the storyteller, and his friend Jay go searching on a grail-like mission to view Jack Kerouac’s legendary Original Scroll for his most famous novel On the Road and the book proper then commences with an almost direct reference to the opening lines of Kerouac’s own signature text. Yet Beatitude, which takes its title from Kerouac’s extension of the word Beat to embrace notions of the saintly and also incorporates some unpublished fragments of poetry by that other Beat giant Allen Ginsberg in its pages, is more than a mere derivative homage. It is an authentic contemporary account, enlightened by appealing Beat details, but its main strength is in its ability to convey plausible conversations between its believable dramatis personae.

Beatitude is published by Rebel Satori Press, Hulls Cove, ME

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