Closs, Larry. “Beatitude”, Rebel Satori Press, 2011.
Love and Love
When I was a college undergraduate, one of the books that we all read was Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and the book almost gained Biblical status. There was something about the Beat generation that was magical and even though we knew we could not emulate it, we could at least read about it. Larry Closs’s new and first novel is inspired by that age and it is great fun to remember how it was.
Harry and Jay both work at “Element” magazine and they both love Kerouac’s book. They would spend their lunch hours talking about it and they even went to the library to see the original book. The two men became fast friends as a result of the book but Jay’s girlfriend, Zahra, feels that Harry is entering their world and she is not happy. Harry has had two bad relationships but he is not about to give up his friend just as Jay is not willing to do. The men are connected emotionally and the love they feel for each other is obvious. Harry really tries to dump the feelings of having been burned in the past, not once but twice and he comes to Jay’s rescue by explaining to his girlfriend that the love they share is a love of life and not sexual. As Harry and Jay begin their journey to visit book stores and bars, jazz clubs and poetry readings their feelings for each other continue to heighten.
When they meet Allen Ginsberg, they learn what being a “beatnik” all was about and they are broken when they see that they had an idealized view of the way things were. Harry especially has to consider how to handle loving someone who cannot return the love and Jay has to come to terms with being the object of Harry’s love. Closs exposes life and love along with reality and friendship.
Closs is a masterful writer and each sentence is a gem as we are led to self-reflection as we read. Here is a story of a “bromance” that begins purely and without the hassles that usually come along with relationships. Of course, that changes as the men realize what is happening to them. Closs sends us messages throughout the text and even though there is a lot to take in, I felt that I wanted even more.
Closs masterfully uses dialogue to give us his story and it is dialogue that is filled with passion and the joy of the men discovering a mutual attraction for a time gone by and for each other. We look at fascination for the ideal, the place where we want to be able to be even though we know we may never reach it. I really loved seeing everything fall into place and the way Closs is able to relate that we suffer from wanting what cannot be. This is a human story that is gorgeously rendered and it shows the vulnerability that we all face. Most important is the idea that love is everywhere and it can be ours if we are willing to have it.