Beatitude | Critical Book Review

Larry Closs takes readers on a moody and intimate journey in “Beatitude,” a novel that explores the enduring relationship between two protagonists, Harry and Jay. As they bond over their mutual adoration for Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation, the story unfolds against the backdrop of 1995 New York City. In this critical review, we delve into the heart of Closs’s homage to the Beats and its impact on readers.

A Beat-Infused Narrative

Set in the bustling streets of 1995 New York City, “Beatitude” introduces us to Harry Charity and Jay Bishop, both writers and fervent admirers of the Beats, who happen to be colleagues at Element magazine. The narrative kicks off with their pilgrimage to witness the original manuscript of Jack Kerouac’s legendary work, “On the Road.”

A Journey Through Friendship

Paralleling the iconic opening line of “On the Road,” the novel states, “I first met Jay not long after the end of an affair that went awry.” Harry and Jay’s friendship burgeons into a quintessentially New York bond – daily lunches at the same deli, Allen Ginsberg readings at the MOMA, and numerous poetry slams and jazz performances in dimly lit dive bars. As Harry’s feelings deepen, readers are drawn into the painful tale of his past relationship while pondering whether Jay will opt for his artistic girlfriend, Zahra, or the wistful and attentive Harry.

A Love Letter to the Beats

Larry Closs’s affection for the Beat Generation is palpable throughout “Beatitude.” The book serves as a heartfelt tribute to this bygone era, a nostalgic journey that is both meticulously penned and tender. By seamlessly integrating real-life figures into vivid descriptions of New York, Closs breathes life into his fictional characters. The narrative is so immersive that it almost transports readers into a world of smoky bars and dwindling print magazines.

Navigating Beat Lore

For those uninitiated in the world of the Beats, “Beatitude” may necessitate some background research on Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg to fully grasp the nuances of the narrative. Conversely, the book does provide a significant amount of biographical exposition about these literary icons, which occasionally burdens the story. Striking the right balance between essential context and overloading the reader with information is a challenge that the novel grapples with.

An Irresistible Passion for the Beats

Nevertheless, it is almost impossible not to be swept away by the fervor that Harry, Jay, and Closs share for the Beats. When Harry stumbles upon a hardcover first edition of “On the Road,” readers, too, share in the euphoria of the moment. Witnessing Harry and Jay’s first encounter with Ginsberg in the flesh, readers, too, revel in the presence of a remarkable poetic mind.

The Kerouac Spirit Lives On

Larry Closs has masterfully straddled the line between fiction and nonfiction in “Beatitude,” infusing the narrative with the same essence that characterizes a Kerouac novel. For those seeking a heartfelt exploration of the complexities of friendship and love, this book is an excellent choice. It is a treasure trove for Beat aficionados, keeping the spirit of the Beats alive in the literary world.

Modern Book Details:

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
Rebel Satori PressLiterary & General Fiction / LGBTQ+282 pages978-1608642274

Larry Closs takes readers on a moody and intimate journey in “Beatitude,” a novel that explores the enduring relationship between two protagonists, Harry and Jay. As they bond over their mutual adoration for Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation, the story unfolds against the backdrop of 1995 New York City. In this critical review, we…